LEGO Bricktales is a charming puzzle adventure game that epitomises the LEGO values of creativity, imagination, learning, fun and quality
- Developer: ClockStone
- Publisher: Thunderful
- Release date: 12th October 2022
- Genre: Adventure, puzzle, creative
- Platforms: PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S, Microsoft Windows
- Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
LEGO Bricktales Review
I’m a parent to two LEGO-loving children, and like many people, I’ve loved LEGO since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. As you can imagine, LEGO games are a firm favourite in my household. If I had one complaint, however, it’s that not many of them let you actually build anything. LEGO Worlds with its Minecraft-Esque design gives you a lot of freedom to build, but Bricktales is the first game I can recall that truly recreates the experience of creating your own bespoke builds.
The story is simple and wholesome. Your inventor Grandpa owns a theme park that has sadly fallen into disrepair, and he needs your help to bring it back to its former glory and save it from being closed. To do this, you must set out with the aid of your trusty robot companion Rusty to help people out and gain the happiness crystals needed to power Grandpa’s machinery.
Rusty, who is one of Grandpa’s inventions, was lost in space and time, upgraded by aliens and returned as a sentient being with the power to create portals to other places in time. Together, you’ll travel to five beautifully realised biomes, where you must help the inhabitants by carrying out rescue missions, discovering who contaminated the local well, dispatching an army of space robots and much, much more. It’s a lovely game for kids, as it’s all about being kind and helpful, and epitomises the moral values of LEGO.
The gameplay structure is quite simple. There’s no fighting, and although there are a few fetch quests, they are simplified and don’t require massive amounts of backtracking or collecting. The focus here is on designing LEGO builds to overcome obstacles or solve problems – it starts off gently, building simple bridges, but the builds get more complex as you go on. Some of these involve building market stalls and yoga bars, recreating statues, or my favourites, physics-based puzzles like complex bridge building, designing a water collector or creating cranes and gyrocopters.
Some of the puzzles involve creating builds that span large gaps with multiple routes, and you’ll need to carefully plan the construction to ensure you can reach your destination without it collapsing. Lego Bricktales uses a forgiving physics system, but you’ll still need to make sure you reinforce your builds as you go. Although you only get a limited amount of pieces for each build, there are loads of ways of solving each puzzle – I can’t wait to see some of the community’s solutions!
Some of my creations were ugly but functional, but once you’ve passed the criteria for each build, you can instantly go back into it and rebuild in sandbox mode. This gives you an unlimited number of the original build’s pieces, as well as a selection of additional build elements you can use. I absolutely adored this part of the game, as you get the satisfaction of solving the building puzzle first, but then you can go straight back in and build an intricately designed replacement. This is made even better as there are three save slots for each build, so you can experiment, create and compare your original build to your newest masterpiece.
The build system is simple to use and can be played with either a controller or with a keyboard and mouse on Xbox. I used the KBM controls for testing purposes, but the vast majority of my time was spent relaxing in my chair with a controller in hand. It takes a few minutes to get used to the controls, but after the tutorial stages and initial builds, you’ll rapidly become a master builder.
Lining up some of the pieces can be tricky when you’re trying to judge heights for example, but LEGO Bricktales uses clear visual indicators when pieces are connected properly, and allows you to snap pieces upwards or downwards to ensure they’re in place. Any pieces that aren’t attached properly are bordered in red, and once they are joined, the border turns white. It’s a simple and intuitive system, and it’s the first LEGO game that truly recreates the process and enjoyment of brick-by-brick LEGO building.
The magic comes once you are happy and finished with your creation, as it then appears in your game world. It’s so satisfying when you revisit areas and come across something you’ve built, and they can always be edited if you have new pieces or colours to use. I had so much fun redesigning builds to match the biome I was in. At first, you only have a limited number of build elements and colours to use, but each level has collectables in the form of animals and treasure chests. It’s these chests that are key, as they contain currency (in the form of things like donuts, clams, or chicken drumsticks, depending on the biome) that you can spend in the shop to purchase new brick colours, themed decorative pieces and character customisation items.
Although building and problem-solving are the main draw, exploring the world is also very enjoyable. You can’t physically jump in Lego Bricktales, but your handy robotic companion Rusty can be upgraded by solving puzzle rooms in each biome which unlocks “powers” that you’ll need to progress through the levels or gain access to collectables. I won’t list them all, as that would ruin the joy of discovery, but each one allows you to access previously unreachable areas and secrets, which encourages you to explore previously cleared biomes.
There are five beautifully realised LEGO biomes to visit: The jungle, an Egyptian-themed desert, a medieval biome, a LEGO city, and a beautiful Caribbean locale complete with pirates and hidden caves. Each of these biomes is fantastically well designed, with multiple inter-connected routes and secret areas.
The default camera view is close and fixed, rotating if you go around buildings or obstacles, which can make it tricky to see where you’re going sometimes. There’s a hugely helpful world view, though, that lets you freely look around the current level. It’s never actually explained how to access it, and I stumbled on it by accident, but if you enter the pause menu it snaps out to a wide view of your location. From here, if you move your analogue sticks, you can rotate and zoom the level, so you can look for secrets or plot your route through (and also admire your handiwork).
If I had one complaint, it’s that the audio could have been developed a bit more. The background music is chill and enjoyable, but there’s no voice acting and very little in the way of effects or incidental sound. Some of the character dialogue is actually quite funny, and having it vocalised would have elevated the gameplay considerably.
I encountered a briefly repeated glitch involving one of the unlockable powers, where my character became momentarily stuck, but exiting to the hub-world (Grandpa’s theme park) and re-entering resolved this.
At the time of writing, there was one far more annoying problem, where a plank that is supposed to rise with the water during a puzzle became stuck. This doesn’t affect the main game progression, but it prevents you from collecting the very last hermit crab on the last level. This ties into four completion achievements, which is pretty annoying. Hopefully, this can be patched out by the developers before release. (Edit: The developers fixed this glitch the day after launch, and all achievements can now be unlocked.)
There have been comparisons made with LEGO Builder’s Journey, but aside from the thematic similarities, LEGO Bricktales is superior in every way. As it stands, I fully completed all five biomes and found everything apart from the single aforementioned crab, with a total playtime of well over thirty hours. When you’re in the zone and building, the hours fly by. I still have some builds I’d like to revisit since unlocking new pieces, so I can imagine racking up at least a dozen more hours.
Realistically, with a walkthrough at hand and just making the most basic builds to solve the puzzles, you could probably finish LEGO Bricktales in a fraction of that time but, for me at least, that goes against the whole point of this game. It’s the first LEGO game I’ve played that gives you the freedom to create builds how you want and I absolutely love it.
LEGO Bricktales is an excellent game that fans of IRL LEGO building are sure to enjoy. Even though it is primarily aimed at kids, there’s something therapeutically satisfying about creating the builds in Bricktales that will appeal to gamers of any age. Much like LEGO sets you can buy have an age range of 6-99, so it is with this game.
The build controls can be a little fiddly and the camera angles are sometimes a little awkward, but the overall gameplay is excellent. LEGO Bricktales is the first game I’ve played that feels like dipping your hand into your box of elements and making a custom build. If you like building stuff with LEGO (and who doesn’t?) this game is the closest you’ll get to that experience, along with that feeling of pride and satisfaction you get from your creations.
I hope LEGO Bricktales gets the success it deserves and that the developers make more games in this series, and I’ll gladly play them all.