LEGO Bricktales looks sublime. That’s the first thing you’ll notice about the game, whether you’re looking at pristine screenshots, watching the trailer, or soaking in the gorgeous graphics as you sit down to play it. This is a LEGO game that’s fully infused with the creative, playful spirit of the construction toy,
Sure, the eternally popular Traveller’s Tales games are gorgeous adaptations of film and comic book franchises, incorporating many ideas and quirks from across Lego’s decades of existence, but they skim past some of the core of what Lego is. In particular, you might have lots of Lego brick constructions featured within them, but they’re incorporated into more traditional video game level design and 3D world stylings. Everything in Lego Bricktales is made from and represented by Lego bricks and construction.
At first blush, it might look like this is an adaptation of the diorama-like puzzles of Captain Toad, but in truth it’s a very different style of game. Yes, each world you explore is a squared off diorama, but there’s less emphasis on perspective-based puzzling. In fact, there’s no real control of the camera by the player, outside of a small amount of panning, and your view of the world changes to always give you an appropriate view of the world. That, of course, means that there can be obscured secret passages and pathways, but it’s more for effectively framing the game.
The puzzling in the game instead comes from Lego builds that occur at set build spots within the world. Each one has a particular goal, so you’ll know exactly what you need to build. Within the demo’s slice of gameplay, it broke down into a handful of different types, keeping things nice and fresh. There’s the traversal puzzles, which most inventively had me constructing stairs around a cliff face by slotting longer pieces into holes in the wall and layering them together for strength. There’s also straight construction puzzles, to create a supporting strut for an overhanging platform as one example, and puzzles where you have to recreate a specific build, in this case copying an ancient Lego statue. The puzzles sure to capture the imagination the most are the physics-based ones, such as the aforementioned helicopter build.
The act of putting together the Lego bricks is relatively straightforward, but still needs a little bit of refinement to round off some slight rough edges. Bricks that you select will generally go where you expect them to, and it’s a cinch to snap them up and down vertically within a build. The issue right now is that it sometimes doesn’t quite do what you want it to, whether that’s placing a block too deep within the viewing angle that you currently have, or simply being a bit tricky to spot where it is in relation to other bricks in 3D space. Shifting the camera view helps, but I’m sure that ClockStone will refine this between now and release.
Still, when it works, it works wonderfully well. It’s so easy to become absorbed within the build, start to go beyond the bare basics required to complete a task and start to put some individual flair into your creation. I made sure that a bridge I made had “rope” running alongside like a classic rope bridge, as well as more ornate details. When it came to making a helicopter, I made sure to put lamp pieces on the little winglets. I’ve no doubt that everyone’s builds will be subtly different.
It’s not all builds, though. Exploring the opening jungle world, you come across a stranded archaeologist who’s cut off from his team, a secretive biologist who just wants to see a chameleon (which is why he’s disguised as a tree), and a camera man stuck up in a tree after a crashed landing. There’s a lighthearted sense of humour that’s immediately obvious as you meet them.
You also start to gain more tools for getting around the world, such as an Indiana Jones-style whip letting you grapple up to certain hooks, and your little robot buddy learning a stomp ability to clear away some blocking scenery. You can’t jump at the start of the game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s something you learn along the way as well!
Oh, and there’s a whole thing with bananas and an in-game shop that’s run by a classic Lego ghost.
Playing this opening demo for Lego Bricktales absolutely lived up to everything I hoped and expected from the game’s announcement trailer. From the wonderful visual style, to the light tone and the great construction puzzling enabling your creativity to shine through, this is a game that I can’t wait to see more of when it releases later this year.