Ever since the first Lego Star Wars released in 2005, you’ve known almost exactly what you get when you buy a TT Games Lego game. The developer struck gold with that original game, founding a family-friendly gaming institution that survived a decade and a half, bridged three generations and was about as consistent a part of weekly game sales charts as GTA V. It’s now been more than three years since Lego DC Super-Villains, the last game in this long-running string of releases, and TT Games have been busy in that time. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga returns to a familiar story and setting, but this is a huge departure from the Lego games of old.
The Skywalker Saga is pretty much a completely brand new style of game with every single element reconsidered and redesigned from the ground up. It starts with the camera angle, a shift from the wide-angle overlooking view to an over-the-shoulder third-person camera that follows whatever character you’re currently playing as. Hopping into the opening of Episode 4, it’s Leia and Captain Antilles running through their doomed starship as Stormtroopers board and take control, searching for the stolen Death Star plans. Something that took a few minutes from the start of the original film is broadened into a ship-wide battle through the corridors, seamlessly shifting from combat and traversal to cutscene and back again.
It acts as a bit of a tutorial for the game as a whole and the blaster and grapple gun-toting heroes like Leia. With the third-person camera, you can aim down sights, bringing up a targeting crosshair to have direct control of the blasting you’re doing, and you can nip into the destructible cover, which you can quickly rebuild if you need it. Both ranged and melee combat build up combos, so long as you’re mixing things up with different face button presses, and there’s a Batman-style counter attack when enemies come in to try and bop you. The reward is just loads of studs, but there’s also the visual reward of more varied combo attacks, and the imperative that enemies can potentially block your attacks if you don’t vary them enough.
There’s the trademark Lego game humour right from the off. A Rebel trooper grabbing a coffee before picking up the Death Star plans, Darth Vader’s antics as he interrogates Rebels, C-3PO and R2-D2’s lopsided relationship, Stormtroopers sharing an escape pod jacuzzi, and so much more.
Partway through this opening level, you switch over to controlling 3PO and R2, getting to see a different side to the game. While they can still melee and fight, they’re not seen as threats and won’t be attacked. R2 accesses certain terminals with a rotational mini-puzzle, while 3PO can use other terminals to mess with alarms or take control of a turret and mercilessly gun down enemies. 3PO can also be split in half, reminiscent of Empire Strikes Back, and his mastery of the universe’s languages comes in handy during the open-world segments of the game.
The amount of game on offer in The Skywalker Saga is quite simply huge. All nine of the mainline films are included here, and you can start playing from the first film of any of the three trilogies. Each film then has multiple linear levels set on the various planets that they feature, but they’re also joined up by open areas that are filled with people to talk to, mini-games, environmental puzzles, and so much more. The area around Skywalker Ranch is busy enough as it is, with Sandpeople just a few moments walk away and plenty of secrets to find, in addition to little missions to find and meet up with Old Ben, but that’s nothing compared to the sprawl of Mos Eisley.
There’s just a ton to explore, find and challenge yourself to beat or puzzle through, and there’s usually a Kyber Brick at the end of it. These are the main collectable through the game and they go toward new character upgrades. Upgrades are available both generally across all of the 300 unlockable characters (OK, so a bunch of them are different ages of Obi-Wan), and then also for specific character classes and types. If you get a Jedi upgrade to soup up their mind control abilities, and that then applies for all Jedi through the game, the same for Rebels with their disguises, for Droids and on and on.
The game’s freeform structure makes things really interesting in terms of progression. Each of the trilogy opening episodes will have to act as an introduction and tutorial, while the third of each can then lean on the presumed knowledge of how to do things like lift items with the Force or unhooking power bricks.
Oh, and I haven’t even talked about how you’re able to blast off into outer space! This is a whole other kind of open-world space to venture into, again with its own type of missions to find and take on, like hopping into a Smuggling Run to take a task off a scaredy-cat trader, or simply blasting Kyber Comets to net you five bricks all at once. You can unlock and swap ships almost as easily as you can characters, hopping from an X-Wing to the ship formerly known as Slave One.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is shaping up to be a transformative reimagining of what a Traveller’s Tales Lego game can be. The series’ humour remains, but from the closer camera and revamped gameplay, to the way that it weaves through linear and open areas, incorporating so many new and more modern ideas, it’s looking to be a new high point for the series. Here’s hoping whatever’s next for TT doesn’t have the same crunch-filled growing pains.