It’s fair to say the Lego game formula has worn its welcome out several times over. Over the years it’s been the boilerplate for family-friendly franchise fare such as DC, Marvel, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars. It’s garnered plenty of success with that too, but there’s been a distinct lack of change in what those games offer between franchises. Traveller’s Tales has taken its latest venture, Lego Star Wars: the Skywalker Saga, and used it as the opportunity to make that change. Is it building for a better future or is it another case of sluggish endurance, brick by boring brick?
While not the first or even third Lego outing for Star Wars, The Skywalker Saga represents the first time the post-Return of the Jedi trilogy has featured in its entirety. So if you were waiting with bated breath to see how TT poked fun at the most divisive entry (The Last Jedi) and the worst one since Attack of the Clones (Rise of Skywalker), now’s your chance.
The key difference with The Skywalker Saga is that despite being broken up into their respective chapters, this feels like one big game that just happens to feature 9 films worth of characters and stories plus some tasty tidbits from spinoffs such as The Mandalorian and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Outside of the first playthrough of the main stories, you can mix and match any characters and locales outside of the timeline, which is easy geek out material when you can chuck Darth Maul and Kylo Ren together on Endor to slay some Ewoks, or maybe get Jar Jar Binks teaming with Captain Phasma to take out the Death Star. This is the surface level reason why The Skywalker Saga is a superb slab of fan service.
Thankfully there's no trade talk minigames
The other is a completely overhauled approach to the campaigns. Instead of just sprucing up the levels found in previous Lego Star Wars games, a punchier method is used to cut key moments into vignette-sized stages that don’t tend to leave you doing the same thing twice in a row. There’s the occasional bigger stage too, but they usually act as mini hubs for whatever story progress is upcoming and can be returned to at your leisure.
With the more drawn-out nature of older Lego games, increasingly losing themselves in the sprawling misguided concept of ‘more content=better’, even the most memorable franchise stories became unpleasant trudging things that needed to be persevered with in order to get to the fun stuff. Here, the beats are hit at a solid pace, with a healthy variety of set-piece types, fresh sight gags, and plenty of great voice work now included. It’s comforting to see TT still knows how to balance Lego slapstick humor with the precious lore of an esteemed franchise, because a lot of the jokes in The Skywalker Saga are among the best in any Lego game, and usurp the brilliance of the original two games in the Lego Star Wars series.
Personal favorites include the recreation of the iconic Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon vs. Darth Maul fight, which makes a really good gag out of Maul’s toughness and Qui-Gon’s dramatic fate. There’s also some incredible attention to detail to the little things like Leia’s accent change or differing responses from NPCs to certain characters depending on their in-universe relationships.
Swinging a lightsaber never gets old
There’s a tighter perspective and combat change as well. It’s now generally viewed in an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective, and this allows for targeted shooting and lightsaber-swinging. Largely this change works for the game, but there are moments where the camera doesn’t agree with that change as well as it could.
It’s not all sunny days on Tatooine though. Some story sections are horribly dull slogs that don’t feel as fast and flowing as the best stuff. Thankfully these moments pass swiftly for the most part.
While the focus has been shifted toward loving the property over the formula, the uglier side of that formula remains in its own way, and for anyone who just wants the Star Wars tour of the story and exploring the hubs, the ceaseless collectathon that bubbles under the surface constantly threatens to breach a good time.
The hubs are visually striking
There are an exhaustive amount of collectables, even by Lego standards, and not enough of them are tied to doing something Star Wars-related. Instead, simple, uninspired puzzles take up much of the playtime and the reward is almost never worth the effort. It’s a shame such effort went into trimming the fat off the Star Wars experience while the Lego game formula itself didn’t get half as much trimming as it really needed.
Mileage will of course vary with that, and it’s undeniable that there’s plenty besides the fluff to invest in. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a good time for all ages, and while it has its issues, they aren’t likely to bother die-hard Star Wars fans and kids.
Undoubtedly the best looking a Lego game has ever been, but that does seem to come with a few minor caveats. The game suffers the odd bit of lag, missing prompts for mission progress and actions, occasional stuttery frame rate, and a clear disparity in animation quality between what it feels is important and that which is not. Still, these are mostly fleeting issues, and it’s not the worst I’ve seen a Lego game perform.
Already a pretty forgiving game, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has a bunch of options to make life easier alongside the standard selection. There are assists for a variety of game mechanics that can be toggled on and off.
LEGO STAR WARS: THE SKYWALKER SAGA VERDICT
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga does a fine job of reinvigorating the Lego game formula, even if it continues to be mired in gargantuan amounts of busywork. Most importantly, however, it’s a highly entertaining Star Wars spectacle that brings humor and joy in Sarlaac-sized portions.
TOP GAME MOMENT
For Star Wars fans there will be many. Getting to do a bit of podracing was certainly my highlight.
Best looking Lego game yet
Lots of Star Wars fan service
Lots of collectible bloat
Some inconsistency in level quality
Some minor technical hiccups