I have a lot of love for Lego — both as physical crafting toys and as PC games. The PC games have all been delightful, fully packed with simple, charming humor, adorable toy antics and a real sense of exploration. It’s the physical bricks that I fell in love with first, though. Making a medieval dragon cage with my dad is one of my earliest memories. Messing about with a bucket of random pieces to see what I could create. It’s an experience that’s both soothing and invigorating for my mind, my creativity sparking while my fingers go through the meditative process of clicking the little bricks into place, one by one. Lego Bricktales gives you the best of both worlds, and is a wonderful addition to an already impressive collection of Lego games.
The story is simple — your grandfather needs help fixing up his broken down amusement park. He’s got a handy machine that instantly fixes things up but runs on Happiness Crystals. Fortunately, he’s recently invented portal technology, and with the help of one of his old robotic assistants, you hop from world to world, helping people with their problems, collecting their joy, and restoring your grandfather’s theme park to its former glory.
The most important part of the gameplay is the building. You’re given a surprisingly free rein to build things that help you on your journey — making bridges, stairways, vehicles, and more. The challenge is in accomplishing the task with the limited number of bricks provided and doing so within a limited space.
As someone with a rather weak sense of spatial awareness, I found these puzzles to be challenging, but not impossibly so. I am impressed with how well the game captures the feeling of sitting down with a collection of Lego pieces, clicking pieces together and experimenting with new structures and aesthetics. As the buildings require more intricacy, you may experience the odd frustration with needing a certain piece to go into a very specific spot, but for the most part, building things is a seamless experience. For the more challenging puzzles, I found myself taking apart an entire structure with no hesitation to start again from scratch — when you know what you want to build, it comes together impressively quick.
Once you’ve solved the puzzle, you unlock Sandbox mode, allowing you to beautify your creation to your heart’s content — a creation that remains a permanent part of the level going forward. I’ve played a lot of games, and few instilled in me the sense of pride I had walking up and down one of my creations as I went through the level.
Exploration is another big part of the game. While the levels may look simplistic at first, secrets and collectibles are crammed into enough nooks and crannies to make wandering around a level well worth your time. Some areas can only be accessed through skills you acquire later in the game — you start off with the ability to smash through certain objects, and these unique exploration skills only get cooler as the game progresses. These abilities can be used across all levels — there’s a lot of replay value for those who have finished the main story.
The writing is on par with every Lego game I’ve played before; we have a fine balance of silliness, charm and wit that will entertain both kids and adults alike. The story is well paced — the game’s building and exploration could possibly grow a little dull if the tales and jokes weren’t there to keep things fresh. That being said, there are a few questlines that make you feel like the game is merely padding its time. One particular series of fetch quests towards the end of the game grew so exhausting it nearly drained all the fun out of the game, but that’s the exception more than the rule.
Overall, the joy of Lego Bricktales is in how much it encourages you to just slow down and…well, play. Games can often make you feel like you need to rush from one objective to the next. Lego Bricktales encourages you to slow down and take your time. It fosters patience, creativity, and inventive thinking, and it rewards all three. In fact, the balance it strikes between challenging, rewarding and entertaining is near perfect. If you’re a fan of Lego, no matter what form you’ve enjoyed it in, Lego Bricktales is a worthy purchase.