LEGO and Star Wars are two brands that go hand-in-hand. Not only are the toys in almost every household, but the games are among the most popular in history. The Complete Saga was released in 2007 and proved to be a smash hit, adapting all six films of the prequel and original trilogies into LEGO gaming form. But since then, there has been a whole new trilogy of Star Wars thanks to Disney, and an update is needed, enter The Skywalker Saga.
Developer TT Games is back to building brick-inspired adventures with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. The blockbuster epic is by far the biggest in the franchise yet, with around 300 playable characters, 24 planets to explore, and nine films of content to enjoy, plus a host of other modernizing improvements.
But after several years of extensive delays, can The Skywalker Saga live up to its legendary predecessor?
Bringing LEGO Gaming to the Modern Era
The Skywalker Saga brings the LEGO franchise into the modern age of gaming with new combat and progression systems that provides a much-needed shake-up to the classic formula.
Possibly the greatest shake-up the game brings is the class system, dividing characters into different types with unique abilities, weapons, and skills that can be upgraded with collectible Kyber Bricks. The RPG-like design gives a rewarding sense of progression, allowing characters to evolve and improve over time.
Gone are the days of violently spamming the attack button to take out waves of Stormtroopers, combat is now more methodical, and it's better for it. Players can now chain together combos of different attacks that will take out enemies quicker and reward more studs, making the system worthwhile to adapt to.
Blasters are totally different too, as gun-wielding characters can now aim their shots at the target of choice and hit different parts of the body, each having unique effects. There's even the option to hide behind cover, making the game feel like a modern third-person shooter, something which may disappoint those looking for a classic LEGO experience but delight those seeking a more complex Star Wars game.
All Nine Films in One Convenient Package
At its core, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is just that, a brick-built adaptation of the nine installments in the galaxy far, far away. Everything from The Phantom Menace to The Force Awakens has been brought into LEGO form before, but this is definitively the greatest adaptation of the saga ever brought to consoles.
The nine films in the saga play somewhat differently from each other in a way that tends to reflect the tone of that installment and generally keeps the game fresh all the way. While Revenge of the Sith is heavy on action and bosses, A New Hope pushes puzzles, exploration, and story.
Unfortunately, developer TT Games did miss out on several key moments that will no doubt disappoint many. A New Hope's Battle of Yavin was cropped down to just the Death Star trench run - which feels linear and unsatisfying. Meanwhile, Revenge of the Sith's space battle above Coruscant is simply skipped over in a cutscene, despite being among the most epic action sequences in the prequel trilogy.
The five levels that make up each film ought to take the average player two to three hours to complete, depending on how distracted you may become by the side content. As fans have come to expect from the LEGO franchise, The Skywalker Saga faithfully adapts the story of the nine films, with a splash of humor to lighten the mood.
The LEGO games are known for putting a hilarious take on the biggest franchises in Hollywood, and the latest Star Wars adventure is just as funny as ever. The jokes vary between classic gags, poking fun at the franchise itself, and deep-cut Star Wars references that will make die-hard fans smile.
Past LEGO Star Wars games have endured a long-standing curse of dull and annoying space levels that simply break up the fun. Fortunately, that isn't the case here. Thanks in part to the new-and-improved flight mechanics, these levels can be rather enjoyable. Although some players may grow tired of these as they progress through the story, as they have a tendency to be much more linear than standard missions and often re-use the same mechanics.
There are plenty of boss fights scattered throughout The Skywalker Saga, most of which rely on new lightsaber dueling mechanics. Between Maul, Dooku, Vader, and more, there is an abundance of lightsaber fights to have throughout the game. Unfortunately, most rely on the same flow of dueling, dodging, clashing, knocking down hearts, and a few waves of generic enemy troops.
The repetitive nature of the lightsaber-based bosses means that players may quickly grow bored by the formula, and find the latter bosses to be somewhat tedious. Fortunately, the other bosses play far more interesting as they often opt for the more classic LEGO puzzling root. Fights like Captain Phasma's The Last Jedi encounter will involve much more thinking, leading to more engaging and interesting levels.
LEGO has always offered incentives to replay levels after completing them the first time, and there are more reasons than ever in The Skywalker Saga. Players can return to missions in Free Play to utilize their entire roster of characters to solve new puzzles, collect all the Mini-Kits, obtain enough studs to earn True Jedi status, and complete level-specific challenges.
Completing these objectives will reward players with Kyber Bricks, so there's plenty of reason to go back and feel rewarded for doing so. But with many levels now offering multiple ways to approach them - such as stealth or firing on all cylinders - playing back the same missions can now be a totally different experience.
Instead of ripping dialogue from the films, LEGO's latest Star Wars adventure opted for newly-recorded lines, which was undoubtedly the right call as some of the best humor can be found in the original voice-over.
With only a few stars reprising their big-screen roles, the impressionist voice actors do an excellent job of replicating the tone and voices of their characters. Excitingly, most of the prequel trilogy cast is filled with voice actors from The Clone Wars. Fans of the popular animated series will be elated to hear actors like Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor tackling the dialogue of the prequels, and they deliver it spectacularly.
A Galaxy of Endless Opportunities
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is undeniably the biggest entry in the franchise yet. Not only does it offer nine films of content but also an entire galaxy to explore on the ground or in space, with plenty to do along the way. Unlocking the galaxy's 24 planets throughout the main missions is just the beginning, as each of these worlds is expansive and fleshed out, with tons to do on each.
Additionally, the game features over 300 characters to unlock from across The Skywalker Saga, each of which feels far more varied than ever before. With unique combinations of different combat abilities and puzzling skills found across the roster, players finally have a reason to catch them all.
The driving force behind the post-story content comes from Kyber Bricks, of which there are over 1,000 to earn in various unique ways. While these are, simply put, the replacement for LEGO's classic Gold Bricks collectibles, they can now be used to upgrade character classes and earn new abilities, giving more incentive to collect than ever.
When hopping around the galaxy, it's hard not to get distracted by the quick quests to help out a stranger, the time trials that may take countless tries, and the fun little puzzles scattered around, all of which will reward with exciting unlocks.
Flying around the stars can end up being just as brilliant an experience, with the races, space battles, and bounty hunter chases there to offer regular engagements while orbiting the galaxy's planets.
The mass of content scattered around the galaxy and the varied ways to unlock it offers reason to keep playing The Skywalker Saga long after the credits roll on Episode IX. There's even enough variety in these puzzles and objectives that players shouldn't find themselves repeating the same tasks too frequently, which ought to keep the experience fresh for some time to come.
The Stunning Galaxy Far, Far Away
Turning over to the technical side, The Skywalker Saga perfectly improves upon past LEGO adventures by making vast improvements to bring the title to the standard of any other modern-day AAA release.
The Skywalker Saga looks like it belongs on next-gen consoles, featuring gorgeous environments across all 24 of its playable planets that offer a unique feel to every world. The distinct visual design and environment found on each planet mean that exploring the galaxy will never grow dull, and it'll always be apparent what world you're on.
Each world and region feels distinctly unique from one another and offers different activities to suit their environment, as well as friends and foes to encounter along the way. A major long-awaited change from past LEGO entries comes in the freedom to explore vertically. Taking to the rooftops in Assassin's Creed fashion only adds to the sense of adventure the game offers, giving even more space to hunt for rewards and new ways to tackle blaster combat.
TT Games has managed to create the most visually stunning entry in the toy-inspired franchise yet, all while making the world more LEGO than ever. When closely examining interior areas, players will quickly notice everything is made of individual bricks, making it the most authentically LEGO game yet.
One critical change made on the visual side comes from the camera perspective. Gamers can finally leave behind the classic fixed camera that has plagued every LEGO title until now, as The Skywalker Saga replaces it with a 360-degree behind-the-shoulder angle, akin to most third-person shooters.
Not only does the updated perspective integrate well with the new combat systems, but it also brings the LEGO franchise more in-line with other modern blockbuster games and ought to prove more familiar to gamers less familiar with the LEGO style.
Should You Buy LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga?
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is not only the most evolved take yet on the brick-built franchise but arguably sits among the greatest gaming adventures in the galaxy far, far away. The blockbuster experience is packed with content from three generations of Star Wars, and there's plenty here to keep avid gamers busy for a long time.
Developer TT Games was successful in bringing the LEGO formula to the modern era with a slew of improvements, and it will be exciting to see which franchise they may take these to next. But in spite of the massive overhaul, the experience remains a classic LEGO gaming one at heart, with puzzle-solving and simplistic combat being at the center of every mission and open-world activity.
Along the way, there may be the odd dull mission, but that feeling rarely lasts long enough to hinder the overall experience, which is a must-play for any Star Wars or LEGO fan.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga releases on April 5 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.