REVIEW

REVIEW

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

April 22, 2022

GOOD

  • Enjoyably rapid romp through Star Wars universe
  • Fun gameplay with hilarious writing
  • Updated yet familiar combat
  • Great visuals, music and performances

BAD

  • Occasional bugs, visual glitches
  • Some great stuff hidden behind menus

GOOD

GOOD

Clearly made by and for fans of the series, The Skywalker Saga freshens up the LEGO formula just enough to provide an outstandingly enjoyable tour through the Star Wars stories, punctuated by some wonderful humour, familiar gameplay and an energetic pace.

Like so many of you reading this, it won’t surprise you to learn that I am a huge fan of both LEGO and Star Wars. Star Wars has held a special place in my heart ever since my dad introduced me to the epic space opera as a young child – probably in the late eighties or very early nineties. My dad’s not a huge sci-fi guy – but he liked Star Wars. Little did we know then how much A New Hope would ignite my love for the genre but also how the series would give us something to continue to enjoy together decades later. I have also come to admire the LEGO games; Not only because of their fun simplicity but also because they so often manage to translate some of my favourite movies into similar-feeling video game experiences while simultaneously also adding humour and making everyone feel kike they’re in on the joke. It’s a hard line to tread and TT Games have usually walked it pretty expertly. However, I’ve got to admit that some of the more recent titles have perhaps fallen into a bit of a rut in terms of gameplay. And as someone who often plays the LEGO games on Nintendo consoles, you couldn’t help but feel that you were missing out when comparing versions of the same game on other consoles.

So, when LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was announced back in 2019 I was overwhelmingly excited to explore all nine episodes in a single game but also a bit concerned about how that would translate into a more modern LEGO game, particularly on a Nintendo console. However, I am very happy to report that other than a few (very intermittent) bugs and a menu system that is somewhat necessarily quite hefty and therefore a little difficult to manage, The Skywalker Saga is otherwise fantastic! It revitalises all the features that make LEGO games great like clever humour, multiple playable characters and that familiar stud-collecting-break-everything gameplay and combines them with all we love about Star Wars, including force-wielding lightsabre duels, spaceship dogfights and made-to-be-toys cute-as-heck droids and alien creatures. It’s also an accelerated package that doesn’t linger on any of the nine episodes too long while still keeping the spirit and basic storyline of the whole saga intact. And thankfully even on the Switch it looks, sounds and plays better than any LEGO game has. And in case, it’s not yet clear, loved my time with it, I did.

…loved my time with it, I did.

A long time ago… or even just recently. 

Despite the strange order in which the movies were released – in this game, you get to decide which of the trilogies to kick off with. The first episode of each is available from the start. (so either The Phantom Menace, A New Hope or The Force Awakens). As you beat the first episode – the next episode then becomes available. To select where to begin, each episode has a delightful living diorama that shows off a pivotal scene from the films (plus a little trademark LEGO gag of course). It’s wonderful and really only a sign of good things to come. In my playthrough, I decided to start at Episode 1 and work my way through the story. Also, as an aside, there are some great accessibility options available right from the start including, for example, an option to autocomplete any sections requiring quick button taps. As mentioned above, each episode is relatively quick to get through, consisting of around five energetic chapter-like sections.

Now, for those of you out there that know every line from every movie – you may notice that some liberties with the story have been taken. Some plot points have been removed completely, others watered down to be a little less scary than their film counterparts and even others are played out of sequence. So, that does mean that your favourite section could be missing. And to be honest, starting off I was a bit surprised at how quickly (under two hours) the first episode took to complete. However, by the time I got to Episode 9, I was pleasantly surprised with how swiftly I had been able to experience the whole ‘saga’ without feeling like I was bored (a worry I had going in two a nine-movie-based game). And that has a lot to do with the variety of gameplay that is on offer even within each relatively-quick episode.

I’m actually really impressed with just how much of the story you get and the variety of gameplay that is on offer even within each relatively-quick episode.

Do or do not… you always have options. 

In terms of gameplay, if you’ve played a LEGO game before you know what to expect at least on a basic level. Yes, there’s still a whole lot of breaking structures, collecting studs and the occasional swirling-LEGO-bricks build. Hidden items also make a return and there are even some mild puzzles to figure out along the way. Ultimately, it’s really fun to break things apart – especially if you’re a purple lightsaber touting Mace Windu or even a mechanically magnificent wrecking ball-like BB-8. And what sets The Skywalker Saga apart, thanks to small updates like the more expansive use of the Force when you are a Jedi/Sith or a smooth over-the-shoulder perspective change when you pull out Han Solo’s trusty baster is that everything just feels even better to explore and destroy that it has in the past. Additionally, there is simply a huge roster of characters in a plethora of classes that are slowly unlocked along the way and switching between them means it never feels dull. And even while making my way to Exegol on my final mission – I still found myself Force-pushing around every nook and cranny to add to my stud collection. And thanks to an open-exploration mode – even after the episodes are done – completionists like me can spend hours and hours going back to find every last collectable. Yes, it’s a simple repeating formula but it’s got a fresh coat of paint and the Bantha spit and shine has worked. And I found it as enjoyably comforting as a warm glass of a Thala-Siren’s green milk on a cold Ahch-To evening.

However, even if you’re not a huge collector like me, you can follow the basic storyline (a literal path lights the path to your next objective) and do minimal exploring and still there’s enough to keep you entertained. Lightsabre duels will happen frequently and simple button-mashing mayhem is interspersed with a few sections where you’ll have to trigger specific combinations of buttons. In other areas, you’ll need to solve simple puzzles (like rotating door locks with R2-D2 or hitting the correct combination of targets with a scoundrel’s blaster). On Tatooine, you get to jump into a Podracer and take on Sebulba. On Hoth, you may commandeer a giant AT-AT walker and on Endor, you can destroy an Imperial outpost from dizzying heights. And in between, you can take on a series of series-favourite bosses like Boba Fett or switch between C-3PO’s leg and torso sections to figure out how to crawl into an air vent and unlock a door. There’s just a great variety to break up the main platforming/action-adventuring and I really never felt bored and couldn’t wait to see what the next fun film-call-back activity was going to be.

Now, this might be (at least partially) because I’m a huge Star Wars nerd… but i’m happy to report that there were several times that I actually laughed out loud.

Possibly best of all, as you visit new planets, you actually get to fly in a huge variety of starships you’ve seen in the films. At first, it seems like this is just basic taking off and landing cinematics. However, it’s not. In fact, in the vast starry space around each planet, there are specific challenges to take on. These range from really fun X-wing vs TIE-Fighter dogfights to time trials races or high-speed target practice. I loved doing these and whenever I felt like a break from running around – I’d happily hop into a ship and fly around for a bit. On top of all of this, there is a skill tree to upgrade characters and ships. It’s not strictly necessary to dive into, but if you take the time to explore the menu you can not only increase the general abilities of all your characters but if you have a favourite class (like Jedi or Villain) you can spend your studs and other collectable items on increasing speed/health and other attributes).

I don’t like sand… or bugs.

Despite all that I loved about the gameplay, pacing and more – what I think I enjoyed most about the game was the humour. Now, this might be (at least partially) because I’m a huge Star Wars nerd, but I really loved all the interactions between characters and how clever and funny each cutscene was. Not only were there the traditional LEGO-based physical-humour or prop comedy, but the writers went above and beyond. They managed to (usually tastefully) poke fun at Star Wars moments that have since become memes (yes, of course, Anakin talks about his disdain for sand and an aged Luke dusts off his shoulder when facing Kylo Ren). But they’ve also peppered the episodes with little in-jokes like Qui-Gon Jinn mentioning his “particular set of skills”. And I’m happy to report that there were several times that I actually laughed out loud.

However, before spending all my time waxing lyrical, it’s probably a good idea for me to cover the small issues I had with the game. The visuals are really fantastic even on the Switch and the sheer number of pictures I took both of gameplay events and cinematics is definitely a testament to that. However, A few of the cinematics had some occasional but noticeable frame drops and I did experience the occasional visual glitch that would make everything look pixelated; A little like what happens when you’re watching a video on YouTube and suddenly your internet fades and the video quality drops out. Just starting the game up again fixed those problems though.  Also, on two occasions the game crashed sending me back to the Switch home screen. Thankfully, the short missions within each episode, meant even on those occasions I didn’t lose too much of my progress.

I did experience the occasional visual glitch that would make everything look pixelated… and on two occasions the game actually crashed sending me back to the Switch home screen.

On the audio side of things, the music is simply outstanding – blending the musical genius of John Williams with some really good voice acting and sound effects. Of course, despite this, a few of the voices like Queen Amidala were not my favourite and stood out for the wrong reasons. I also know that unless you bought the deluxe addition – there are DLC character packs that must be purchased to complete your character roster. I think this is a bummer but on the positive side – the base game comes with so many characters – this isn’t a huge issue for me personally. Additionally, while the game’s skill tree is a cool addition, I felt the notifications for new items that become available were a little vague, and I kind of wish the game prompted you to upgrade your character more specifically. To add to that, the development team has gone to great lengths to add some ‘cheat-code’ like abilities – like adding a mumble mode, giving all the characters big heads or replacing blaster sounds with voice “pew-pews”. These are so great, but I found them (somewhat accidentally) near the end of the playthrough by exploring the rather large menus – and again I wish these were more prominent.

I am Rey… Rey of Sunshine

All in all LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga is so much fun to play – particularly if you’re a Star Wars fan. Yes, the LEGO formula hasn’t been revolutionised but there are enough little enhancements and new options to make it feel fresher than it has in years. And while it does move very quickly through all nine episodes, I actually felt this was a good thing because it means it never overstays its welcome. And if you’re looking for a comforting, enjoyable and honestly hilarious little adventure in a galaxy far away this is definitely the one to hope on your Millenium Falcon and embark upon.

April 22, 2022

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