In 2005, we got our first taste of licensed LEGO games with LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. Since then, developer Traveler’s Tale and publisher WB Games, have quickly become known for their LEGO licensed properties. From Batman, to Marvel Comics and MCU, to Lord of the Rings. We’ve gotten many, many iterations. It wasn’t until the announcement of LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga that we were promised a new era of LEGO games.
For 18 years, we’ve gotten fun iterations of numerous properties that added mostly gimmicks and minimal quality of life changes. But, there were very minimal changes to the LEGO game formula. While “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could apply, two LEGO games a year ended up getting exhausting just from the sheer amount of collectibles in each game and not having as much change between each entry.
LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga though really feels like a long time coming. As the name implies, this game covers all 9 episodes of Star Wars. From the first moments of Qui Gon and Obi-Wan stepping foot on the trade federation’s ship all the way to Rey stealing a dead family’s name. While a one-to-one retelling isn’t new for LEGO games, the amount of content is astounding. Let alone the writing. This is LEGO writing at its finest.
What I mean is there aren’t changed lines from the movie. Every big moment is there, but the way the team manages to make moments hit a G-rating and add comedy to serious scenes is top-notch. I don’t know if I needed some of the wholesome humor, but I couldn’t remember a previous entry having this many genuinely funny moments.
The brightest light though are the many gameplay changes.
First, the levels. In just about every LEGO game up to now, levels would take about 20 minutes and be full of collectibles, super easy puzzles, and beat-em-up-like combat. Each level would also be end-capped by a cutscene that led to running around an overworld, following ghost studs, to get to the next level. That isn’t the case anymore. I was surprised about how much time I was spending in the Overworld and playing out major story elements. Like in Episode 3 when Mace Windu confronts Palpatine, that is all done outside of a level. It isn’t a drawn-out fight to hit the 3 phase fight in an overly massive drawn-out level.
The levels themselves are also much more reasonable. With much less fluff than before, there aren’t just much fewer collectibles (like 5 mini kits to collect instead of 10), there are interesting challenges too. Plus levels can range from a whole area that is actually fun to explore, to a driving level (like podracing), to even just boss fights. Plus these boss fights (except for one) rarely felt drawn out.
As for the gameplay? There is a big focus on strategy. Enemy AI is much smarter and will actually block attacks and build barriers during shootouts! While it might be a minor thing, but seeing enemies build back up their barriers is actually pretty freaking cool. Also, there is much less of a diorama feel from before. This may be the biggest change that makes this game feel next-gen. Instead of playing out like a LEGO diorama, it’s like actually playing in a LEGO universe.
Going back to combat though, another great change from previous installments is the focus on combos. It isn’t just just hitting people too many times like in LEGO Batman 3, but rather executing different moves (hitting someone with a lightsaber, doing a jump attack, blocking and countering, etc). Each attack builds up a meter to get some free studs and ensures that enemies simply can’t block your attacks. Combat is definitely much flashier too. While nearly every single boss does do the same attacks, they feel different by the end of the game just as you get used to the combat. Like… there is parrying and countering in a LEGO game!
Even space travel is fully fleshed out. While there is no travel from planet to planet, there are some really fun dogfighting mechanics. Plus, space missions, large space battles, and races. The addition of actual space travel though at where it’s at is still a nice touch, even if some parts feel half-baked. For instance, while dogfighting is fun, it’s still very simplistic since enemy AI is dumb as a bag of LEGO bricks – but that kind of makes sense for an E 10+ game. That said, when there is a whole missile lock-on system, you’d think that that’d be utilized more, sadly it’s not. Just blasting away at a ship will kill it faster than it takes to lock on, making a feature with a really annoying sound obsolete.
Finally, the last major new advancement is the simplification of roles each LEGO character can do. While in the past each character had specific tasks they could do, and it took FOREVER to find who exactly you may need to complete a puzzle, they’ve all been boiled down to simple roles like Jedi, Hero, Villain, Sith, Bounty Hunter, Astromech Droid, etc. All Jedi can do the same tasks. All Heroes can do the same tasks. Plus each role can be upgraded too! Whether it means doing more damage or autocompleting tasks. Just the addition of being able to upgrade and quickly find who you need saves so much more time and headaches.
Even if this game feels like a major advancement, there are still bugs that almost feel like a normal part of playing a LEGO game. Occasionally, my game would just go into a 2-player split-screen co-op even though my second controller wasn’t even on. A hard reset of the game fixed this though (thank god the autosave feature is pretty good). Another was while playing the speeder chase part of Episode VI, enemies stopped spawning. To complete this level, you need to defeat a certain amount of Stormtrooper speeders. Because they stopped spawning, my speeder just kept going and hit a black void. I had to redo the entire level just to get back to where I was.
This is a very impressive upgrade from past iterations but did come at a cost. From recent reports, Traveler’s Tale developers experienced massive amounts of crunch with it becoming the norm for many, many years. I’m not sure if the many issues or the half-baked ideas came from the sheer want from higher-ups to bloat this game to see what stuck for their major new entry, but I hope that changes. The ideas like the massive areas, the changes to levels, and character role simplification felt much needed.
Hopefully, the leadership learns from the backlash, and the developers are given a much bigger voice because of recent reports to take back control. Because this game is close to being one of my favorites of the year already. The crunch though and the need for higher-ups to just add more STUFF bog the good down though.
LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is a massive achievement for a beloved anthology franchise that needed to change. There are so many new welcome additions that I hope become staples for the future. But there are just as equal parts that felt unnecessary. These 3 years since the LEGO games last release and recent revelations were hopefully taken in as a learning experience. These games mean so much to me, and hearing what the developers have gone through broke my heart. In the end, the developers, not the leadership, should be so proud of their work. Because what is here, regardless of the bad, is a very fun package.
LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is available now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch.
LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga
- Rating - 8/108/10
LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is a massive achievement for a beloved anthology franchise that needed to change. There are so many new welcome additions that I hope become staples for the future. But there are just as equal parts that felt unnecessary. These 3 years since the LEGO games last release and recent revelations were hopefully taken in as a learning experience