LEGO Bricktales VR Review
Whatever else it is, the endless array of licensed LEGO games, toys, and entertainment is nothing if not consistent. Fun, family-friendly, and ubiquitous, LEGO products appeal to everyone with a sense of goofy humor. Building with the physical brick toys is relaxing and deeply satisfying. While some of the movie tie-in games are a bit lackluster, 2022’s LEGO Bricktales focused on the pleasure of creative problem-solving and building with bricks. It was about as close as any game has come to the “pure” Lego experience. Until now, with LEGO Bricktales for the Meta Quest 2, 3, and Pro.
Physical LEGO bricks have a couple of well-known downsides. It’s a right of passage for every parent to step on a sharp brick or two, or wrestle bricks from the mouth of an unruly pet. Even the most elegant and complex LEGO creation has to find a home somewhere, which takes up space. Sure, the original Bricktales came close to simulating the building experience, but on the Meta Quest 3, the illusion takes a giant leap forward.
Bricktales — both in the original release and on VR — has a simple premise. You are trying to help your inventor grandfather bring a faded amusement park back to life. To do so, you travel to a handful of richly detailed environments. You build and repair and make the people in each little land happy, earning you rewards to take back to the amusement park.
The story is benign and occasionally amusing, but the heart of Bricktales is building and puzzle-solving. You have a series of building challenges that take place outside the world, allowing you to focus on one small task at a time. For each puzzle, you have a limited and specific collection of bricks. The puzzles amp up in difficulty, and encourage all sorts of creative thinking approaches to solve. The process is immensely satisfying.
LEGO Bricktales for the Meta Quest doesn’t significantly change the original game. The premise and worlds are the same. The puzzles are the same, but the ability to examine the fully 3D dioramas is absurdly engaging and fun. There is a lot of detail, small animations, and character that really come through in 3D. You can, of course, move or resize the dioramas, or you can walk around them and see them from different angles. The same applies to the separate puzzle-building challenges.
LEGO Bricktales can be played in AR, with the dioramas floating in the middle of your play space, or in VR with a plain background environment. I’m still thrilled by the Quest 3’s implementation of AR. Thanks to improved and color passthrough cameras, I was able to place the dioramas approximately on an actual table in the room. It was kind of amazing.
Moving and building are pretty intuitive. You pick up with your hands and manipulate them naturally. You bring up the UI by looking at your watch. My biggest frustration was that very often the UI was imprecise to control and responded sluggishly. Of course, no matter how much it has improved, manipulating objects in AR/VR still lacks the tactile element that would make it feel truly real.
No Clutter, All Fun
Coming on the heels of the excellent Assassin’s Quest Nexus, the Meta Quest 3 is developing a strong post-launch lineup. The hardware itself is outstanding and using custom lenses from Zenni — and ditching my glasses — has made the experience even more comfortable.
LEGO Bricktales was one of the best and purest versions of the brick building experience. On the Meta Quest 3, and especially in the AR mode, the game takes on a whole new life that comes very close to the real thing. The puzzles are challenging and the tone is lighthearted. Aside from some fiddly controls, LEGO Bricktales is more proof that the Meta Quest 3 is the VR headset to have.
***Quest code provided by the publisher for review***
- Excellent building and puzzles
- Cute story
- Works great in AR/VR
- Some sluggish UI controls
- Not much new content
- A bit repetitive