LEGO Bricktales – Xbox Series X Review

LEGO Bricktales – Xbox Series X Review

Published by: Thunderful Group

Developed by: ClockStone Studio

Gather around, children, it’s imagination time!

Picture this, it’s Christmas day, you’re a young child, and you’ve been a good kid all year long. You’ve made sure you’ve been extra good for your parents/legal guardians. And you asked for one thing; a new LEGO set.

So, you wake up early, rush down the staircase, and see that my dad (Santa, obviously) has left you a big ole present. You open it up, and there you sit, eyes beaming with joy as you stare in youthful wonder; it’s a brand-new LEGO kit, the same one you wanted.

You open it up and play with all the little blocks, building numerous creations, great and small. Soon enough, you’ve created a village, then a town, a city, and, before you know it, a whole planet has sprawled out around you in miniature scale. There’s intricate detail going on – there’s no water, but crops still grow. No oil but vehicles still travel. It is, quite simply, a utopia.

But then, you grow up. You swap playing with toys to working at a desk. Your time spent playing has been traded for time spent working. You take orders from a boss as opposed to your mother (who, might also be your boss, if you work for her. I don’t know your situation). And your body hurts, longing for those carefree, halcyon days of your youth.

So you look towards your favourite past-time, video games, as a way to escape the mundane. But the latest shooty-shooty-bang-bang game or kick-the-ball-from-one-side-of-the-field-to-another sports simulator simply doesn’t scratch that itch. You yearn for that creativeness, where you can create a world around you again, but you don’t have the same physical space around you to be able to break out the LEGO sets.

Thankfully, there’s a saving grace available that might just take you back.

It is worth pointing out that this review was performed on a copy gifted to us ahead of launch.

Something to Build On

LEGO Bricktales is the latest entry into a sprawling LEGO-based catalogue of games that actually stretches back decades. For the longest length of time, WB Games/Traveller’s Tales’ ongoing, narrative-based adaptations of well-known IPs have been at the forefront of LEGO-based games. The likes of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Marvel, DC, Star Wars, etc.

Each one is a masterpiece (slight pun intended) in its own right. However, whilst there are elements of that classic LEGO building available in each, it often takes a back seat to the narrative. You’re there to play a Harry Potter/Star Wars/Marvel game that just so happens to use LEGO pieces as an aesthetic.

Bricktales, however, is a LEGO game.

From the outset, you are tasked with using those familiar brick pieces to create various set pieces to further your exploration. The LEGO pieces you build become a part of the game you play. The story is the LEGO, the LEGO is the story.

Speaking of story, you control a brick figure (naturally). The unnamed grandchild of an eccentric inventor goes to visit said grandfather at his lab-cum-amusement park. However, upon your arrival, you see what should be an amusement park is anything but amusing!

So, you venture down to see where/what your grandfather is up to. Spoiler alert, he’s stuck in his lab. And it’s up to you to help him. You do this by creating bridges, fuses, and other helpful items to power things up and get your grandfather (and yourself) out of trouble.

It also transpires that a long-lost creation of his has resurfaced after spending some time in the multiverse. Don’t ask, and don’t think about it too much. This creation, nicknamed “Rusty”, becomes your aide/partner throughout the game. It’s also the character that gives you insight into how to create things to further your exploration.

Once Rusty and grandfather are reunited, the pair note how the amusement park has come under *some* disrepair. Apparently, the park (and grandpa’s doohickey invention) needs power to run. And the only source of power strong enough for both is that of “Happiness Crystals”.

So, Rusty and you head on out to explore various locations – including a jungle, the desert, a city, etc – and find more Happiness Crystals.

Sing the HappyHappyHappyHappyHappyHappy Song

This leads you to the brunt of the game; exploring the various locations, meeting new characters, helping them with their various tasks, and making them happy enough to generate a Crystal. The more crystals you have (five in total) you have, the more of the park you can rebuild.

Of course, the main focus of this game comes from the exploration/building of various set pieces. And each of those aspects has a number of kinks that need to be worked out, in all honesty.

The exploration is great. Straight up, it’s fun. You take your character around the various locales and explore/build more to get further into the area. Each stage is comprised of a number of dioramas – think Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, but with LEGO. They’re built vertically, and you can explore wherever you can get to. If you can’t get somewhere, you need to either build something to gain access or come back with a new power-up.

However, whilst there’s nothing wrong with any of that, there is one area that lets it all down; the camera. It’s a really stilted affair. There’s a fixed point that the camera is at at all times. Unless you want to move the camera to be closer/further to/from you, in which case you need to stop movement and go about readjusting suitably.

And even if you are comfortable with the ever-so-slightly-too-close default camera position, there’s still something wrong with it. It doesn’t flow around you comfortably. If you venture around a corner – which you will do – and it isn’t one that triggers the camera to snap to a viewable angle, you’re left to the aforementioned manual movement to see where you are and how to get back.

We Never Really Grew Up, Did We?

It doesn’t sound like a pain, but it does draw you out of the fun you’re supposed to be experiencing. And it isn’t just a problem there, either.

The biggest gripe with the building sections – of which there are plenty to play through – is that darn camera. There’s a little more freedom with it here, allowing you to zoom and move it around more freely, but it’s still, arguably, the trickiest part of the game to master.

Actually, that might be a lie. The true trickiest part of the game to master is definitely the building. As you can imagine, there are a lot of these sections. And, for the most part, it’s pretty straightforward. You know you need to build a bridge, so you use long, straight, or flat pieces to get from point A to B.

You’ll also need to make sure your structure is sound and won’t break under pressure. Again, okay. This part is actually helped by the “simulate” button (Y, on the Xbox).

Once you’ve put enough pieces down, you can get your robot friend to venture across the creation and test it. If it’s structurally sound, you’ll be able to proceed. If it isn’t, well, you’ll watch your creation – and the robot – fall comically down the building zone.

This can be quirky at times. However, when you can’t see a suitable place to add a supporting brick – again, cheers camera! – you’ll have to undo all your progress to continue. One early construction sees you need to create a ladder/bridge to climb up and around a cliff.

It starts off easy enough until you realise you don’t quite have the best pieces to use to get further up. So, you need to get a little creative with it. Which can be fun, but you also need to make sure it’s safe to use as well. So, you need to find that balance between using this piece as an anchor or using it as an elevation point.

Piece by Piece

Again, it sounds easy enough when you’re putting it into words. But there’s just something that detracts it away from everything it clearly is supposed to be.

Oh, and, before you all say, “why not just use a bunch of 4×8 pieces to create the bridge and its support beams”, each construct only allows you a select amount of a small variety of pieces to use. So, whilst in the real world, you would use the most logical bricks to build a bridge/ladder/etc, in Bricktales you gotta play with what they give you.

This being said, it was never really enough to make me not have fun with it. I enjoyed the act of building various creations and sculptures and what have you. It’s perhaps the best LEGO building mechanic of any LEGO game of the past three decades.

But boy is it finickity at times!

Aside from those few gripes, there isn’t much more to say about it all. The graphics are as you would expect, plastic, moulded bricks in a variety of colours, shapes, and sizes make up the scenery. There’s the usual LEGO brand of aesthetics going on. If you’ve ever been into a LEGO store/played a LEGO videogame/been down any toy aisle in a supermarket, you’ll already know what to expect visually.

In terms of audio, the music was appropriate to each biome throughout the game. There weren’t any pieces of music that “slapped”, as the kids and Squidy-Ps of the world would say.

In fact, it’s kind of like lo-fi jazz; it can be playing and you won’t really notice it, you can consciously zone out whilst listening, but when you do pay attention, it’s pretty neat if unremarkable.

That’s not a negative by the way. If anything, it adds to the child-like wonder present in the game. If the latest chart hit was blaring through my headset whilst I’m trying to build something, that would not only date the game to the here-and-now but would lose some of that whimsy. Instead, we get music that could be appreciated in any year, at any time, by anyone and it would still have the same impact.

Kidz Rool, Adultz Drool!

Whilst we’re talking about it, don’t expect to hear any of the LEGO figures talking to you, either. This is a LEGO game, after all, and LEGO pieces, all excluding a certain Chris Pratt-voiced plumber, are non-verbal creations. And if somebody shows me a LEGO character that has a built-in voice box that isn’t Super Mario, I will willingly step on a bunch of the infernal pieces of plastic with my bare feet. Ahem.

If you’re looking for replayability, there’s plenty of it going on in Bricktales. Once you’ve completed the main story – which will take you anywhere from five to 15 hours depending on your crafting capabilities and patience with fiddly digital brick placements – you’ll have a bit more going on. There are a number of treasure chests to find and open in each area. And by area, I mean each individual diorama, not each distinct level.

Within the jungle level, for example, are a couple of jungle clearings, a cliffside area, the inside of said cliff, an ancient civilisation temple, and treetops. Each of these has (on average) two chests in them. Most of the chests contain bananas.

“Bananas?”, you ask. “Bananas indeed”, I reply.

You see, there’s an NPC called Boo who works as the game’s in-game merchant. He’ll trade your bananas for new equipment/customisation options for you or your creations. They don’t really matter, but if you want to make your character look just so, or you want to spruce up your wild structures, this is the best way to do it.

Oh, and speaking of which, once you’ve completed a structure once, you gain the ability to go back and try again with a sandbox approach. Normally, you have a set number of pieces you can use to build any given structure. These are available – typically – in a palette appropriate to the level you are playing in. In sandbox mode, however, you have access to all of the blocks you’ve unlocked/bought, and more besides. Also, you can use as many blocks are you wish, in any way you see fit. This is where your inner child will be screaming with joy. And, whilst it isn’t necessary to complete the game, it does offer a more relaxing approach to the game’s construction mechanic.

Finally, besides these, there are a number of indigenous wildlife and other “collectables” to find and, well, collect. I won’t spoil what these are for, but you might want to catch ’em all wherever possible.

My Final Thoughts…

Ultimately, LEGO Bricktales offers a little slice of nostalgic relief for the young and young-at-heart alike. There’s a fitting blend of puzzles and exploration going on to keep your grey matter ticking over, whilst utilising a universally beloved and understood pastime in a decidedly more space-saving way. If you’re like me and sometimes find yourself frequenting the toy aisle in your local ASDA and scoping out the latest LEGO playsets, then you might want to pick this game up.

It’ll be a lot easier installing this onto your PC or console than looking beside you to find a couple of six-year-olds wondering why the creepy 30-something guy is staring at their toys.

It’s a damn sight cheaper, too!

And it’s a damn fine game, too. Whilst not the most polished of games (I don’t need to repeat them again, do I?), there’s a tonne of content to enjoy all the same. Whether you’re a massive LEGO fan already, or just want to create something on a digital plane, LEGO Bricktales should definitely be one you add to your collection! It’s worthy of a solid 7/10.

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LEGO Bricktales is available now on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam, the Epic Games Store, and GOG.com.


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LEGO Bricktales Review
  • 7/10
    Overall - 7/10
7/10

Summary

LEGO Bricktales is a joyous romp through your childhood toybox, where LEGO was king of the imagination and gate-keepers of fun. You’ll be transported back to your youth with whimsy, but please remember to bring your logical brain with you, too, as some of these puzzles can get pretty tricky.

+

  • Wonderful aesthetic (come on, it’s friggin’ LEGO. You knew it would be!)
  • Tricky puzzles keep you thinking
  • Sandbox mode adds replayability to your construction work
  • Novel diorama-based level design
  • The only limit is your imagination (and the brick count. And the dimensions you need to adhere to in order to obey the game’s “rules”)

– 

  • Camera is frustratingly tedious at times
  • The camera can have a knock-on effect on your enjoyment of the building segments
  • The story isn’t ground-breaking (though, again, this is a LEGO game, so you shouldn’t be expecting The Last of Us-level narrative
Xbox Review