When you first think of LEGO games, you might harken back to a bunch of blocky adventure titles that humorously recreated well-known action movies like Star Wars or Harry Potter. But as of late, LEGO has turned away from co-op combat and action and pieced together games that include everything from turn-based strategy to platform fighting.
And now with LEGO Bricktales they’ve created something much closer to a collection of brick-based puzzles. It’s a game about constructing things with no directions, and it offers some challenges for even diehard fans.
The story is simple and silly.
You’re a blocky guy or gal tasked with helping your absent-minded inventor grandfather. He owns a rundown theme park that’s under threat of being shut down by local authorities. But there’s no time to grab a wrench and bring in an army of electricians and techs: You have to find another way to get the job done.
Fortunately, Gramps has built a special portal device that can transport you to faraway times and places. And those times and places have just what you need to revamp the park.
Gamers zip from place to place and help others with their LEGO block-building needs, and then collect happiness crystals that can fix up and run Gramp’s rides and attractions. Exploring a jungle temple, rebuilding a lost pirate vessel and reaching a dragon’s lair in a medieval castle are all part of the cleverly designed build-your-way-to-a-solution locations and conundrums on hand. Each level is designed as a detailed diorama that can be examined up close or when zoomed out.
Gameplay, then, is all about exploration and puzzle solving. In each of the five LEGO-themed biomes, you find environmental puzzles and collections of parts and pieces. You’re then tasked with building all sorts of needed constructs—bridges, staircases, vehicles, lookout towers, amusement park rides, etc.—all designed through your own sense of block-stacking savvy.
Just like building with LEGOs in real life, the construction can take time and patience. Each one of the puzzles have a limited number of pieces to use in your construction. But there are also parameters to meet (such as height and width), and physics apply as well. So constructs must be balanced and reinforced. The game even tests your bridges and staircases with robotic helpers to see if they’ll crumble before you officially put them into use.
Gamers earn new skills as they progress and unlock new areas on already bested biomes.
The settings and environmental challenges are fun, and the puzzles often deliver the same joy and reward as you get from building with an actual box of LEGO blocks.
In a sense, the game teaches younger gamers some great engineering principals when it comes to envisioning and piecing together sometimes complicated constructs.
Your character encounters electrical zaps and physical thumps, but there’s nothing messy in the mix (other than your blocky bridges crumbling if burdened with too much weight).
Probably the biggest problem this game wrestles with is its difficult control mechanics. Camera angles and brick movement/placement can often be a bit finicky. On complicated builds you must sometimes move slowly and painstakingly to get a block exactly where you want it—which can lead to frustration.
This is a gamethat requires your plastic thinking cap, for sure. But between the puzzle solutions and snap-together challenges, LEGO Bricktales breathes new life into the LEGO game construct.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.