LEGO Bricktales Review
Building things out of LEGO is amazing fun. In theory, a game about this timeless activity would totally rule, right? It does! Sort of. You see, putting the pieces together just right requires patience and precision. It also requires an instruction manual. I had about half of one of these three things during my playthrough. For the right audience, LEGO Bricktales will be a smash hit. For everyone else, some caveats need to be laid out.
At first, I was utterly captivated by Bricktales. You play a young builder on a quest to help your grandfather. The plot is a paper-thin excuse to go touring through a wide variety of LEGO biomes. Though it’s a simple premise, the actual writing is quite clever. The jokes are snappy and well-crafted, with a healthy dose of fourth-wall breaking. Moreover, you want to see all these places. Every brick has been lovingly rendered, right down to the base plates. You feel like you could reach into the screen and push a brick into place.
And you’ll want t, especially if you’re playing on a console. The controls are rather finnicky at times, mainly when building. Which is almost always. To be fair, there’s only a couple of things that drove me crazy. When placing a brick, you have to wiggle and wobble until you find its place on the vertical axis. The game will try and guess for you, and it’s often incorrect. You do get there eventually, but it sometimes takes a bit of trial and error. All of what I’ve just described encompasses a 3-5 second time frame. This doesn’t sound like much, but it can happen any time you’re placing a brick. It’s not great.
One Brick At A Time
I keep saying ‘build,’ but that’s not quite accurate. What you’re actually doing is solving puzzles using LEGO pieces. You need to build bridges, vehicles, support structures, and mosaics in order to move forward. This was mostly fun, but sometimes it was deeply frustrating. There are no instructions to follow? You just get a pile of pieces and a goal. On the one hand, you’ve got the freedom to solve these puzzles how you like. But sometimes I found it difficult to visualize the solution without a lot of trial and error. You need serious patience for some of these puzzles.
Beyond the building mechanics, even the overworld progression felt finicky. My progress through the story hit a road-bump in the second world. I couldn’t complete a particular quest. After an hour of talking repeatedly to everyone I could, I gave up and restarted my file. On my second run, I managed to get through the quest in question. But the solution (approaching an NPC from the exact angle needed to initiate conversation) was so tiny I can’t decide what went wrong. Did I encounter a bug, or is the character interaction prompt just badly designed? I may never know.
At least everything looks and sounds incredible. Not only do the bricks look perfect, but the sound design and music is spot-on. The subtle clicks and taps sound just like they should, while the soundtrack is infectious. I found myself humming the jungle theme for days afterward. Characters also move according to their design, which I appreciate. Birds and bugs just sort of wiggle around, while the people can swing their arms and legs. Bricktales even has your character’s hair and face spin around when they’re excited.
Pressed Plastic Paradise
For the completionists, the game has a few side quests to seek out. They involve a bit of backtracking, but they’re otherwise pretty intuitive. Basically, you’re always on the lookout for items that have been tucked away. I was happy for the excuse to keep poring over these stages, truly. Every level is easily compelling enough to warrant a careful second look. You can customize your avatar, but the real focus is on the stages. They’re so ornate, it’s enough to get you buying actual LEGO sets.
Bricktales is perfect – for the right audience. The trouble is, I’m not sure who that audience is. The visuals and the writing feel very all-ages. But the puzzle design requires a high degree of patience and perseverance. I’m neither a parent nor a child, however. For all I know, kids love spending ages making the perfect bird perch. That’s where the alchemy happens, you see. That’s the crucible. If you love building without blueprints, if you’ve got a head for design, you’re in luck. LEGO Bricktales will be an incredible time from start to finish. But otherwise? The breathtaking visuals and clever design won’t be enough to hold your attention.
***An Xbox Series X code was provided by the publisher***
- Graphics are fantastic
- Clever level design
- Snappy writing
- Imprecise building controls
- Frustrating quest design
- Tough building puzzles