Maybe the last we’ll see of the sequel trilogy
It’s often really hard to keep track of LEGO games. If you aren’t the target audience, sometimes a sequel is fully out before you can even look at picking up the original. But with Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, Traveller’s Tales is aiming to just get it all done in one go.
That wholesale approach works out in their favor, with some caveats.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X [reviewed])
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Released: April 5, 2022
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a lightsaber-nostalgia-fest spanning nearly 50 years of prequel, sequel, and original trilogy history. While those nine films are the core focus, there are homages to Solo and The Mandalorian, mainly in the form of character unlocks (there’s over 300 characters in all, and 78 “extras” not housed under the nine-film umbrella).
So at the very start of the Skywalker Saga, the first film in each trilogy is unlocked, and you’re free to enter one of your choosing (completing the first film in a single trilogy will unlock the subsequent sequel, and so on). It’s all very relaxed, as LEGO games often are, and you can change episodes via a menu screen while in-game like you were swapping cartridges in a retro system. Because of that, I found myself swapping between stories often so one trilogy didn’t overstay its welcome.
Full voicework is back, although there is still some pantomiming. I can see the merits of both approaches, and feel like the modern games benefit from a mix. There’s plenty of comedic undertones that fit the lighthearted themes of the Lucas films. To be clear, this isn’t a remaster: in fact, The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker were never given the LEGO treatment to begin with. Instead, they’re essentially redoing every film in a more bite-sized package that adds up to a main course. They could have easily just pasted the old games they had into the new one and a lot of folks wouldn’t have noticed. But as someone who has played the prior games, I enjoyed the subtle differences (including the fully voiced characters, with an unlockable mumble mode of old).
If you haven’t played a LEGO game before, while there are moments of seriousness, they err on the side of jokey. And it absolutely works for a franchise that gave us a wise talking puppet, on top of all the other hammy happenings of the prequel and sequel films. In LEGO Star Wars, Han doesn’t kill Greedo: he throws his blaster at him and makes him run away. The MCU-ified sequel humor also works better in LEGO form than in the actual movies, especially when writers are floating around ideas like a Star Wars “yo mamma” joke. It’s been a long while since I’ve completed an objective called “Follow Jar Jar Binks to Otoh Gunga.” Nor did I ever think I’d hear the phrase “yoosa in big doo-doo” again. But once it’s over, it’s over.
The core LEGO approach of simplicity-all-around still works, especially in multiplayer when you’re benefitting from streamlined convenience together. Death is fleeting and you instantly respawn if something goes wrong, sans checkpoints or lives. There’s bonus objectives in each story mission that usually involve screwing around with enemies in an amusing way (like sucking them out of an airlock), and light puzzles.
Combat isn’t going to require iFrame study, but it is subtly improved from prior games. Doing an aerial rave combo in a LEGO game isn’t exactly a requirement for beating some bosses, but it’s fun to do all the same, and the combo system has a quasi-Dynasty Warriors beat ’em up tint that’s expanded upon depending on the character you’re controlling.
This is clearer in some of the scripted dramatic confrontations (like defending the Millennium Falcon from the Empire in Mos Eisley), where characters can perform different tasks/solve unique puzzles. Obi-Wan can flip switches with the force, Han Solo can identify and overload wiring systems, R2-D2 taps into circuit boards: that sort of thing. It’s all a staple of the classic LEGO formula, but it still works well, especially when it comes to encouraging players to get out of their comfort zone and swap characters often.
With that in mind, some of these moments are so brief, that the real stunner portions of the game pass you by too quickly. For instance, you don’t get to play any of the Darth Maul and Qui-Gon fight on Tatooine: it’s passed by with a quick cute cutscene, before asking players to go back to Otoh Gunga for the second time. With only five stages to work with for each tale, things need to keep moving, for better or worse. While levity is appreciated, I would have loved to have lingered on some of the more memorable moments of the films, or seen more innovation like the Falcon-hangar-defense; which was made up for this game and expanded upon from the events in A New Hope.
The Skywalker Saga is going to impact different mindsets in different ways. To some, retreading old media they’ve seen a million times in a faster-paced format could be a blessing. To others who still hold a lot of water for some of these stories, it might feel truncated due to the packing-in of all nine major episodes. Again, with five stages in tow for each film, that’s just right for a few films that only have roughly an hour’s worth of storytelling in them at best; and on the short side for the more compelling tales (I’ll let you guess which ones I’m talking about). And that’s how long it’ll take to complete each game episode, roughly: an hour or less if you absolutely rush.
But if you do decide to stop and smell the nightkelp, you can double that playtime for each episode. There’s quests to find, sandboxes to explore, stuff to unlock, and hidden collectibles to locate. Then there’s Galaxy Free Play, which is essentially the sandbox of the game. You can go to unlocked planets and use all the characters you have in tow to finish sidequests, and explore on foot or via a spaceship of your choice. It has a semi-annoying cadence in that you’re required to unlock episodes to unlock characters you might really want, but Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is, in general, a low-commitment enterprise.
Cleverly, the team allows players to buy “rumors” that outright show you how to unlock a character: so if you really want to beeline it to General Grievous (there’s no reason I’m mentioning him here, this is completely offhand), you can. In free play or between story missions, you can also create teams like Boba, Jango, and Mando, spanning generations. It’s a way to reach across the aisle to people who are lapsed fans: Star Wars All-Stars, if you will. When I finished the first stage and saw an overall “0.6% completion rate,” that gave me an impression of what hardcore LEGO game fans have to work toward.
If you get this to play with someone else at home, you’ll more than get your money’s worth. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga doesn’t reinvent the wheel and the subject matter is limited because the narrative mostly adheres to the film trilogies (when can we get a Rebels LEGO game?), but it’s a fun way to relive them as an adult and show them to kids at the same time.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]