In 2005, developers Traveller’s Tales and Lucas Arts must have felt a disturbance in the Force when they released the ever-popular LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. This title set up numerous sequels and a partnership with Warner Brothers which led to a mountain of licenced titles. Traveller’s Tales would go on to create LEGO games for some of the world’s largest pop culture icons including Harry Potter, DC, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings and Marvel. Going full circle, Traveller’s Tales have returned to their roots by not just randomly clicking blocks together, but by delicately creating the best LEGO universe yet with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
The premise of the Skywalker Saga follows the path of the three Star Wars trilogies. The player chooses a trilogy and starts from that trilogies’ first episode. Each episode consists of five missions, each varying in length and things to do, for a total of forty-five story missions. Between each mission are cutscenes that, while reminiscent of the films, each have their own LEGO charm and humour that had me and my seven-year-old co-pilot chuckling.
Story missions are linear affairs that offer a variety of gameplay changes to match the best of the Skywalker Saga. While the conventional gameplay of moving forward and battling enemies remain, including plenty of puzzles and character swapping at the forefront, there are a plethora of magical and iconic movie moments that switch up the gameplay. The Death Star trench run, bombarding of separatist droids, zooming through the Endor forests on speeder bikes and epic lightsabre battles are just a few of the set pieces that had both this forty-two and seven-year-old cheering at the screen.
Each story mission is connected by large open explorable hub worlds, with over twenty of these unique sandboxes to explore. Players can head straight for the next mission or take in the world’s sights and talk with the inhabitants. These worlds are full of side missions, puzzles, and collectibles. Players can spend countless hours in these worlds completing objectives as well as collecting studs which are the LEGO games’ currency, along with Mini Kits to unlock ships and Kyber bricks that level up the player. Players can also fly through space, using the different unlocked ships and performing space missions. This made me so happy and excited, that my seven-year-old found it hilarious. While I did explore these worlds and space a little on the story mission playthrough, the exploration, puzzles and side missions all become easier once the player unlocks more characters that open locked areas.
The biggest change to the Skywalker Saga is the camera perspective, which takes a massive step in the right direction. The isometric panned out view of past LEGO titles is replaced by a zoomed in over the shoulder third person view. This change doesn’t just affect the player’s view but significantly changes the gameplay while showing off the best visuals in LEGO games’ history. Characters that carry blasters now use the traditional LT zoom in and RT fire buttons. In no time, players will be popping off storm trooper helmets via running and gunning or using cover to hide behind and play as a more traditional cover shooter.
Melee gameplay has been changed with players able to perform combos, knocking enemies into the air to continue combo chains and finish them off. While players can button mash, enemies will recognise repeated combos and begin blocking attacks. Using Jedi or Sith characters adds extra layers of melee attacks, while being able to use the Force to push, throw countless objects and even using Force powers to distract or use mind control on enemies. Gone is the out-dated heart health system, for a health bar that refills while taking cover, taking no damage,or finding health pick-ups. To make the game more difficult, turn off the recharge meter which is available in the options menu.
Boasting over three hundred unlockable characters, the Skywalker Saga offers something else new with characters being sorted into classes. Each of these classes have a unique set of abilities and add RPG elements with levelling up abilities via finding Kyber blocks and spending studs. There are ten classes in all:
- Jedi – light side of the Force welding class such as Obi Wan Kenobi.
- Hero – those who fight for good such as Princess Leia.
- Scavenger – who are good with tools such as Rey.
- Scoundrel – space pirate favourites like Han Solo, Chewbacca and Lando.
- Bounty Hunters – mercenaries for hire like Boba Fett.
- Villains – evil and disguised good guys such as Stormtroopers.
- Dark Side – dark side of the Force welding class such as Darth Maul.
- Astromech Droids – usually a hero’s aid like R2-D2 or BB-8.
- Protocol Droids – great translators like C-3PO.
There are also general abilities to be levelled up such as sprint speed, health, attracting studs and much more. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the new classes, I never really upgraded many classes and just spent my currency on the general abilities. The reason was that I focused more on the campaign for this review and that the game is easy with basically no punishment for death, that it made upgrading redundant for progression. Although, with a large number of characters and classes, fans and those who love a collect-a-thon will enjoy the hunt for currency and levelling up their favourites.
The Skywalker Saga is the best-looking LEGO game to date. While it is the newest version on new hardware, I do believe the new zoomed in view allows Traveller’s Tales to show off their blocky worlds. They are so detailed the player could think each level explored or vehicle piloted was created by some parent and their child (or LEGO Masters experts) on a rainy afternoon. Everything speaks next level with the reflection of blocks glistening in the light, while sand particles blow through Tatooine and even the grimace of characters being hurt add to the impressive atmosphere.
The music is spot on here with John William’s iconic themes roaring when the action is hot and simmering in the quieter moments. Traveller’s Tales have imported all the authentic sounds from the universe. Cutscenes are well acted with many being voiced from their animated series cast, such as the Clone Wars. It was pleasure to get to a cutscene and not wanting to race to get back to the action due to the voice cast and Traveller’s Tales added humour.
The Skywalker Saga continues Traveller’s Tales’ offline drop in and drop out co-op and this edition is an absolute blast. Due to the new camera perspective, players control either the left or right side of the screen. While it does lessen the field of view, it doesn’t hinder that feeling couch co-op brings. I played close to half the campaign in co-op mode and will go back for more. There are frustrating times where one player is stuck as a support character in some set piece sections and are basically just a passenger. These are few and far between but could have two siblings squabbling about who gets to do the important parts. Sadly, there is still no online capabilities.
The negatives are few in the Skywalker Saga. I mentioned it is very easy and that mutes the need to upgrade characters for progression. LEGO games are not about challenging the player with difficulty but more about going along for the ride and collecting everything if that is for you. This isn’t required for those wanting a meaty 18-hour campaign and dozens more on side missions. The Skywalker Saga is long, some puzzles and combat do get repetitive, but it never outstays its welcome. I did have some issues with frame rate, more so in co-op but nothing near game breaking.