LEGO Bricktales Review (Switch) | Nintendo Life
Although the late 90s and early 00s saw the release of numerous Lego video games across all genres, the launch of LEGO Star Wars spawned over 30 co-op action platform games based on a variety of popular IPs that are still popular today. . . It’s a formula that has worked well and evolved somewhat over the years, but it’s hard to deny that the gameplay hasn’t aged with time. Luckily, Lego (the company) has been experimenting more lately to move away from this hackneyed formula with smaller titles like LEGO Builder’s Journey that are more creative in scope. The latest of these is LEGO Bricktales, a puzzle-focused, slower version that requires more creativity and problem-solving skills from the player. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but the gameplay is solid and definitely noteworthy.
In Lego Bricktales, you take on the role of a minifigure visiting your eccentric inventor grandfather who has finally managed to successfully build a portal that can take you to other worlds. Unfortunately, he was so busy with his work that he forgot to clean up the cluttered amusement park where his lab is located, and his landlord promised to confiscate the land if it wasn’t cleaned up by the end of the day. Luckily for him, a helpful little robot named Rusty comes to the rescue and builds a car to clean up the park in time. The catch is that the machine needs energy, and it runs on happiness crystals that it receives from grateful people. So to help Grandpa, you volunteer to use his portal to travel with Rusty and help people, hoping to collect enough crystals before he loses the park.
The gameplay can best be described as a mixture of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Picross 3D and Bridge Constructor (which makes sense considering it was done by Bridge Constructor developer Clockstone), with some Metroidvania elements thrown in for good measure. It may sound strange, but it all works together to create a relaxing and entertaining puzzle game. After using the portal to travel to a new biome, you are faced with a diorama-style level that your character can explore at will. This biome has several dioramas to explore, each filled with treasure chests full of goodies and short environmental puzzles that unlock new routes and secrets.
Although the progression through each biome for the “story” is relatively linear, you will need to use special items and abilities to unlock all the side paths and collect all the treasures. Some of them can be obtained in the biome itself, but sometimes you will have to go back when you get the necessary abilities in later biomes. Treasure chests contain things like extra cosmetic items to decorate your character, special bricks that you can use to spice up your builds, or edibles like chicken legs and bananas that you use as currency to pay ghost seller for extra cosmetics. It’s not that hard to find everything in a given biome, but we appreciated how you are often pushed to check the diorama from all angles to find hidden rooms and switches that are cleverly hidden.
Each biome will have several people that you need to help in the story, such as rescuing the crew of a downed plane in the jungle or killing a dragon that poisons the water of the fiefdom, and this is where most of the building gameplay begins. At various points, you will encounter an obstacle, such as a river that you need to cross or a cat that needs to scratch a tree, and you will be asked to build something. This will take you to a separate screen where you are given a limited number of bricks and need to build a stable structure that meets certain criteria. You can be as creative and original as you like in what you build and how you build it, the only thing that matters is that it fits the bill.
Before you can move forward, your work must pass a stress test where the robot runs over something you’ve built or weights are dropped on it to test balance and strength. Considering this is a Lego game for kids, you don’t need to have a degree in civil engineering to find a working solution, although there are some puzzles that will make you think a little before you finally stumble upon something that doesn’t work. t will fall apart.
This building aspect of the gameplay turns out to be relaxing and quite rewarding when you finally get something that works, but there’s one big downside here – the way it’s controlled. Maneuvering bricks in 3D space to place them in certain configurations is quite tricky to navigate with a controller and never feels natural. It feels like you’re using a claw to pick up Lego pieces.
For example, you will try to insert one shape between two already placed and it will keep jumping. simply to one side or the other. Or it will look like the part is in place, only for you to realize that the camera perspective has been disabled and it’s not even connected to anything else. In portable mode, you can use touch controls which are a bit easier to control, but it’s pretty obvious that the building was designed for a mouse interface. You do get used to its quirks over time, and most of the pieces fall into place after a bit of fiddling, though we wish it were more intuitive considering how integral this mechanic is to the entire game loop. Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts many years ago, they proved that it is quite possible to create a convenient interface for creators on a gamepad. Clockstone’s efforts work well enough here, but it’s nowhere near as fun or easy as just building your own Lego pieces.
In terms of presentation, Lego Bricktales does a great job of recreating the plastic and toy design of real Lego pieces while adding a bit of video game creative flair. For example, the smoke from your jetpack will fly out in a stream of red spikes that gradually change to darker shades of red and finally black spikes. It looks like everything actually adheres to the real Lego limits as well, so you could realistically recreate any of the dioramas here in your living room if you had all the pieces you need.
The downside of this semi-realism, of course, is that the Switch hardware isn’t quite up to the task. There are fleeting moments when everything seems to be running at 60fps, but we noted many instances of hard, steady drops below 30fps. Thus, controlling your character through the diorama sometimes looks like a stop-motion animation and No best case scenario. To make matters worse, there are times when the building’s screen itself seems to be struggling; sometimes there is a pause for a few seconds after selecting a fragment while the engine catches up with the interface for all the tools that allow you to manipulate that fragment. While touch controls are a nice touch on the Switch, these performance issues alone are enough for us to recommend that you purchase Lego Bricktales on a different platform if you have the option.
In terms of music, we particularly appreciated the relaxing soundtrack, which contains a selection of relaxing melodies that provide just the right amount of aural texture for gaming sessions. While you’re contemplating how to design a zipline, the soundtrack doesn’t get in the way of obnoxious or overly optimistic tracks, but it does provide a nice backdrop that’s better than awkward silence. You probably won’t remember much from this soundtrack, but it conveys energy.
Lego Bricktales isn’t perfect, but it does offer a refreshingly unique experience compared to the list of action platform games based on licensed intellectual property that we’ve been getting for almost two decades now. We truly appreciate the attention to low-stress puzzles that encourage and reward creative solutions. This is the kind of game that you just play at your own pace and get lost in the relaxing melodies and simple building process for a while. It’s a pity that awkward controls interfere with your creativity and hold it back from greatness. Pair this with performance issues on the Switch, and we recommend playing on PC if you can. However, Bricktales is the closest thing in years that a Lego video game has come to a real Lego experience, and those of you who appreciate the famous toy will find something to love here.