Publisher: Thunderful Publishing
Platforms: Xbox Series X , Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC (Reviewed)
Release Date: 12 October 2022
Price: $19.99 USD – Available Here
What makes someone an experienced gamer? The number of played games? The number of achievements and 100% completed games? Perhaps. I’d argue it is all of that but also something extra. The ability to recognize quality wherever it might be, step outside of your bounds and open up to new experiences. To not be stuck in one or two genres and types of games. It is exactly that kind of mindset that made me appreciate all the LEGO games released in the past 10 years. Why? Well, they’re really really good. Simple as that.
Whether it is LEGO MARVEL’s Avengers or LEGO® DC Super-Villains or all of their Star Wars games – you know you’re getting something good. And now we have something new and different in our hands. LEGO Bricktales. It is not comic book or movie related, it is quite different from the other LEGO games I played so far. One thing is for sure – I expect quality.
Dioramas. We all know what those are. Well, they play a big part here. Locations and story elements are presented through dioramas. Almost every level is one big diorama with plethoras of puzzles in each. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
You have to help your grandfather reinvigorate his rundown amusement park with your little robot buddy. The first level is a mandatory tutorial section that shows you the ropes of all the upcoming physics-based puzzles in the game. After you fix your grandfather’s basement generator and a teleporter, you’re pretty soon on your own. It’s time to venture deeper into a LEGO jungle (one of the main five biomes in the game) to find more inhabitants of the island in need of help and solve more puzzles along the way.
So, let’s talk about puzzles now. I mentioned they’re physics-based. If any of your oldtimers played World of Goo, then you should know what you’re in for. At first, your assignments are fairly simple. Build a staircase, a bridge, a support beam, or anything like that and with each construction, you’re one step closer to your goal. That initial tutorial slowly teaches you about rotating LEGO blocks, stacking one with the other, strengthening your makeshift bridges with support blocks, and so on.
For every puzzle, you have a limited number of LEGO blocks that you can use but here is the best part: there is no one correct way to solve anything. You do not have to use up all the blocks that are given to you. As long as your creation works, it’s all good. Who cares if that bridge you made is somewhat flimsy? If your character can get from one end to the other by using it, it’s all good. And that is one selling point of LEGO Bricktales. The freedom of approach and creativity when it comes to puzzle solving. Although later on, you can often encounter uneven difficulty when it comes to puzzles. I’d have moments where I would struggle with 2-3 puzzles in a row, only to find the next one ridiculously easy.
The visuals of LEGO Bricktales are exactly what you might expect at this point, especially if you played any other LEGO games in the past few years. The expectations of simplistic visuals have made it possible for the game to focus its fine detailing on the other aspects here, such as enhanced shadows, lighting, and smoother antialiasing. As the levels are not exactly impressive in size (after all, we are talking about dioramas here), it also means that all the background details will often take the center stage. In other words, there is a lot to see and discover in every level and biome in LEGO Bricktales. Despite such constricted level capacity here, the extra detailing that went into finely tuning every diorama is astounding.
If there is one term I could use to describe anything here, it would be this: the bare minimum. It’s not like I expected much on this front but every aspect of audio work here is just sort of…there. The characters are not voiced at all, instead, you can only hear some muffled gargling of letters are the text is scrolling from left to right during their conversations. The soundtrack is usually one of the many variations of some barely present ambiental tunes. They do somewhat change from time to time based on what themed biome you’re in, but that’s pretty much it. Basically, all of the audio that you can hear in LEGO Bricktales is just something that’s kind of there so you don’t play the game in complete silence.
Again, if you’ve come here to expect something out of most of the licensed LEGO games (movies, shows, etc), you’re in the wrong place. LEGO Bricktales is different. Deceptively masked as something aimed at kids but even seasoned puzzle veterans might struggle with it later in the game. But the flexibility and leeway in puzzle solving definitely make up for it. LEGO Bricktales is a venture into the unknown. A daring risk that pays off in the end.
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