LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Review

April 18, 2022
Also on: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series
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I legitimately forgot I was playing a LEGO game at times, such is the difference between LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and previous titles. Whilst it retains the series’ signature toyetic playfulness, with each individual brick and stud now rendered beautifully on the PlayStation 5, there’s more of a feeling of “this is a Star Wars game made of LEGO” rather than “this is a LEGO game with Star Wars in it” — an important distinction.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga doesn’t really look or feel like what players have come to associate with the long-running brick-built game series. Adopting fresh approaches to gameplay and level design for this latest trip into a galaxy far, far away, developer TT Games has built an expansive world that feeds off each chapter of the source material perfectly and with a great sense of humour. The end result is a love letter to Star Wars fans of all ages; one that just happens to require a little assembly every now and again.

Choosing to adapt these movies as accurately as possible, the focus of The Skywalker Saga has shifted from simple action platforming to encompass so many gameplay styles, all of which have been brought together under a single umbrella of anarchic fun. Moving at an incredibly fast pace, I never found myself doing one particular thing for too long. A mission may start with a shootout, but quickly move to a puzzle, and then to something that requires more exploration or a pure one-on-one lightsaber battle. They’ve even managed to include Pod Racing in here in a way that doesn’t feel out of place. It’s a huge step up for a LEGO game, and that is exemplified in just how vast the game world is.

Did somebody say ‘Bricks… of War’?

The Skywalker Saga’s fresh approach has largely worked for the better. A new tighter third-person camera brings the player much closer to the action. It's a move that matches the evolution in the game's combat: characters with blasters can now take cover behind ever rebuildable walls to shoot enemies — although it's rarely something to worry about — whilst Jedi can utilise the new combo system for flashy takedowns. It’s a welcome move away from a LEGO game being little more than a simplistic action-platformer and one that is executed really well.

While different characters' methods might vary, everything eventually turns to studs in a fit of anarchic silliness. Very little strategy is required in any of the game’s forty or so missions (and beyond). That said, I appreciated the different routes through certain sections to allow for alternative play styles on second visits. 

In my time, I played as everyone from lightsaber-wielding Jedi to bounty hunters packing more heat than Tatooine in summer, and with 300+ characters to unlock there's everyone else in between too. Alas, the introduction of character classes does little to influence gameplay aside from offering a special move or action every once in a while. Similarly, you can unlock new features for each class but this too felt redundant. It's one of the many areas in which LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has implemented new features buried in menus that feel far too busy and filled with things that have changed for the sake of change. The core unlockable system has also had a similar overhaul, becoming more incremental, but they're also of far more use than the class-based unlocks.

Unlocks are achieved with Kyber bricks – another clever play on Star Wars lore – and you'll receive these for completing any of the game’s abundance of challenges or goals in the story missions or as a reward for finishing a side quest. There's a ridiculous amount scattered throughout the game and it'll take multiple runs and plenty of exploration to get them all.

100% the Droids you are looking for.

Hours upon hours can easily be poured into this game, with exploration now an even more intrinsic part of LEGO Star Wars than ever before. Repeating missions in free play with all of your unlocked characters is a given, and remains one of my favourite parts of the game; often creating some fantastic ‘what if?’ scenarios. However, simply making it from each main story mission required more than a bit of willpower and a few Jedi mind tracks to (ahem) stay on target. Each hub level is much larger than in any game previously and each of them is wonderfully realised, even if the majority of the scenery is made up of plastic bricks. There are plenty of characters to meet, and things to explore, with the aforementioned side quests providing plenty of distraction too. You can even head into space if you like, either to simply travel between planets or for epic dogfights against the AI. There really is a galaxy to discover here, alongside the excellent story missions. 

The variety in those story missions may be what impressed me most about The Skywalker Saga. One minute you’re solving a puzzle, the next you’re in a firefight and before you know it you’re piloting an X-Wing or the Millenium Falcon. Speaking of which, piloting Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing to down the Deathstar at the end of ‘A New Hope’ felt just as exhilarating as it should, even whilst everything around me shattered into studs. Each of these iconic moments had me smiling throughout as they’re delivered with enough authenticity, balanced with a level of fun and accessibility that few games ever get right. It’s genuinely a joy to play through each of the nine films, each level and hub world littered with a ton of in-jokes and fan service — none of which I want to spoil here. 

Humour really is at the core of the game, and it goes to show how much reverence TT Games has for the source material. To be able to gently poke fun at an iconic scene without annoying hardcore fans really is a gift. Equally impressive is the fact that these jokes land almost every time, whether its a scene of pure slapstick at the expense of an otherwise stoic figure or a simple twist on a scene that wouldn’t make it into a LEGO game otherwise — no Taun Tauns were harmed in the making of this game.

Cutting edge technology

It’s also even better with a friend by your side — well, most of it. The LEGO games are well known for being excellent couch co-op experiences, and whilst doubling the fun is still my preferred way to play it isn’t without issue. The new action-focused camera angle struggles in split screen play, narrowing your field of view and feeling claustrophobic a lot of the time. This isn’t much of an issue when running through story missions, but it adds an element of frustration to those wide open hubs that I otherwise loved exploring. There are also issues with certain sections just not accommodating two players very well. Granted, these are few and far between. However, no one wants to just watch their friend take down a boss or have a cool lightsaber fight as they stand awkwardly off to the side as a playable onlooker. Add to this a few frame rate issues when playing with a friend and you have a co-op mode that is still fun, but one that felt like it was nudging me to play alone and compounded my thoughts that with all of its new additions, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga may have accidentally shifted away from being the wholly approachable experience people have come to expect.

Overall though, the change is largely positive and makes for a far more varied and interesting game. I came in expecting to play a truncated ‘greatest hits’ of the Star Wars timeline, but what I found was a game bursting with fresh and exciting ideas, a seemingly bottomless Sarlac pit of missions, side quests and other fun things to do, presented with an incredible sense of humour and enough glorious fan service to appease even the most hardcore of fans. This is a love letter to Star Wars that just so happens to be set in a universe made of plastic bricks.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is an incredible package that alters the expectations for a LEGO game with only a few poorly implemented features holding it back from harnessing the true power of the force.
Ant Barlow

Started with the PlayStation, now I'm here... with a PlayStation. Once skipped school to play the Metal Gear Solid demo repeatedly. I love stories big and small. Trophy hunter. Recent VR convert. Probably a hipster.