Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga review – the best value in the galaxy

The Force reawakens with the biggest and most ambitious Lego Star Wars title ever made, and a great game in its own right.

It’s a hard life being a Star Wars fan, knowing that two-thirds of the movie saga is mediocre at best and, if one is being honest, usually considerably worse than that. The franchise has now survived not one but two poor quality trilogies and yet remains more popular than ever. That’s primarily thanks to the TV content though, so a new game that focuses purely on the mainline movies would seem to be at a disadvantage. However, add Lego into the mix and it’s like turning lead into beskar.

That is, of course, being unfair to the efforts of British developer Traveller’s Tales, who have been working on the Lego movie games for 17 years now, creating a series of titles that, according to recent data, is the fifth most successful video game franchise ever (with Star Wars on its own at number six).

This is the first proper Lego movie game in three years, despite, at one time, there being two or three new releases every year. Reports of poor working conditions at Traveller’s Tales, and notoriously buggy games, seem to be at the root of this slowdown, with the ambition and scale of the games always being far greater than the amount of time given to make them. With The Skywalker Saga, though, those constraints have been removed and the end result is wonderful.

There aren’t many games where the most important thing you need to know is how bad the bugs are, but with The Skywalker Saga we can happily report that there are virtually none. Apart from the game forgetting to pause itself while you’re watching the results screen, after completing a level, there are no recurring bugs and what random ones there are never cause a major problem. The worst we had was the depth of field effect going haywire on one level, but it was fine on a second try and, overall, this has far less problems than the average big budget game – which given the amount of content seems a minor miracle.

This is the sixth Lego Star Wars game so far, with the 2005 original covering the prequels, the 2006 sequel the original trilogy, and The Complete Saga a year later (see how quickly they were knocking these out?) combining the two into one game. Add in The Clone Wars and The Force Awakens and it’s only the two most recent movies that haven’t been immortalised in Lego video game form before, which has led to some odd picks for what scenes to turn into gameplay and which to show merely as cut scenes.

Obviously, you’ve got to have Vader vs. Luke and the confrontation with Darth Maul, but other major action sequences are entirely non-interactive, while the developers have made the prequel battle for the Wookie homeworld and escaping from jail in The Last Jedi their own levels. This does seem a bit strange at times, as you anticipate an upcoming sequence and find out you don’t actually get to play it, but given the inevitable complaints at what would have been perceived as rehashed content it’s obvious why the choices were made.

Everything in The Skywalker Saga is brand new and that doesn’t just mean the level design but the structure of the game, the gameplay, and the graphics. While the open world hub areas still use photorealistic visuals for the backdrops the linear story missions portray everything as being made out of Lego bricks, which looks great and even has modern effects like reflective surfaces (true ray-tracing is apparently coming in a later patch, as is better DualSense support).

The old pseudo-isometric viewpoint and fixed cameras have gone, as the game focuses in closer to the action, like a more traditional third person game. At a basic level you can still get by using one button to punch (or swing a lightsaber) and another to shoot but everything is much more involved than it used to be. There are now light and heavy attacks for melee combat, plus a combo meter that rewards varying your attacks – while enemies will block you if you’re just button bashing.

Shooting a blaster has a proper aiming system that works better than many dedicated action games, as does the cover system where you’re often hiding behind destructible barriers that you or the enemy have to hurriedly rebuild during a shootout. You can also access lockers with more powerful, limited use, weapons and a surprising number of levels have optional stealth elements, complete with stealth kills.

Whether you sneak about or collect the parts to dress up in a disguise is entirely up to you, but whichever way you choose to play there’s usually multiple ways through a level and more than one option in how to handle big set pieces.

The platforming has seen the least change, and didn’t really need any, while the puzzles, again, are far more complex and varied than many games aimed purely at adults. The game will help you out if it’s part of a story-critical level but for most of the side missions you get no hints at all, and while you know in the back of your head that the solution is always simpler than you assume we’ll willingly admit we got stuck on more than one for longer than we should have.

One of the key appeals of the Lego games is unlocking new characters and their abilities, which is one of the reasons why the formula works so well with Star Wars, especially when you’ve got nine films worth of side characters and variant outfits to include (characters from The Mandalorian, and the non-numbered movies are included in a very reasonably priced season pass).

Most characters are organised into one of several different class types, including scoundrel, bounty hunter, scavenger, and astromech droid. Each has their own unique abilities, such as being able to build a glider for the scavengers, take on special side quests, or use one of a range of different computer terminals.

Each class also has its own simple skill tree to unlock and upgrade new abilities, although most of these skills are either not particularly useful or just make the game too easy. You don’t have to use them, and can toggle their effects on and off, but they’re the only real use for ‘kyber bricks’, which is a shame as these are the most common collectible and while obtaining them is fun you soon realise they’re not really that useful.

The best collectibles are the characters and vehicles, which are paid for with in-game currency once you’ve unlocked the ability to buy them. The various amusing cheats are a separate item, with effects ranging from turning lightsabers into baguettes to having a porg follow you around and help in battle.

The latter is an indication of the tone the game takes, but while the majority of the humour is very lowbrow, and aimed primarily at kids (the visuals jokes all fall into one of precisely three categories: basic slapstick, malfunctioning equipment, or eating at inappropriate times), there’s lots of cleverer moments for adults, from meta pop culture references (our favourite is the Imperial mint joke) to some snide commentary, usually by stormtroopers, about the nonsensical nature of the plots in the later films.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about The Skywalker Saga is that it manages to tell a coherent story, to the point where you can understand what’s going on even if you’ve somehow never seen the films. The game frequently lets the storytelling play out during gameplay, usually while you’re following one of the computer characters around one of the many open world hub areas. This works not only to introduce the hub, but it also lets the story breathe – a lesson any narrative game, and particularly movie tie-ins, could learn from.

These hubs vary in size and number for each of the more than a dozen planets you visit. So, for example, Dagobah only has a single, medium-sized hub while Corsucant and Tatooine have multiple hubs all of which are filled with characters, side quests, mini-games, vehicles, and secrets. It’s an extraordinary amount of content, especially because the nature of the side missions are far more varied than you might imagine.

With over 300 characters and 50 vehicles it’s easy to underplay the sheer scale of the game, as not only does each planet have one or more hub areas but the local space around it is also explorable in a spaceship of your choice, complete with a relatively complex space combat simulator that allows full movement in 360° and even makes you lead a target to shoot them.

In space there are extra missions, races, and target shooting games, as well as wandering comets full of studs or bricks. Spaceship battles break out spontaneously, which you can choose to take either side in, and this will eventually cause a capital ship to investigate, which you can then try to battle and take over – adding it to your collection.

Spaceship battles are a great example of the game going above and beyond (literally) what anyone would’ve expected but in our experience it is the part that novice gamers have the most trouble with, given the inherent complexities of moving in 3D space.

However, there’s only a few times they crop up in story missions (a lot of the others are on-the-rails or otherwise restricted) so they can be largely viewed as an optional extra. Although it’s unfortunate that to anyone more experienced these elements are a bit too simplistic and easy, which means that they don’t really end up pleasing anyone.

The combat is certainly more involved than previous Lego games, which we were worried about at first. But testing it with inexperienced gamers, including young kids and grandparents, we found they were able to cope very well. After all, there’s no real punishment for dying (you just lose a few studs) and, unlike many games, The Skywalker Saga makes a real effort to move the camera for you, even in the open world sections – although it is best if you also help out yourself.

What you quickly begin to realise is that Traveller’s Tales could easily have taken the Lego aspect out and made this a straight Star Wars game, as it has some of the best recreations of scenes like the Battle of Hoth and the speeder bike chase. Some sequences are a disappointment, such as the Death Star trench run and final encounter with General Grievous, but others are more fun than the movie scenes they’re based on, such as the Obi-Wan Kenobi asteroid scene in Attack of the Clones and the ludicrous horses-on-a-Star-Destroyer concept from The Rise of Skywalker.

Strangely, The Skywalker Saga has no online multiplayer (only a few of the Lego games ever have) but that’s fine because one of the primary appeals of the game is sitting on the same sofa with a friend or loved one and enjoying the camaraderie and silliness together. Despite all the other welcome distractions, bashing pieces of Lego apart and hearing the tinkle of collectible studs that results is still the most enjoyable single element and one absolutely anyone can enjoy.

As one of the only examples of a mainstream, multiformat local co-op game, the Lego games have always been great at demonstrating the joys of gaming to non-believers, but The Skywalker Saga even more so. The learning curve is a little steeper but as a result it is now the perfect gateway game for multiple different genres, as well as being a pleasure to play through from beginning to end.

That end will take a long time to see though, as not only do you have the story missions and space exploration, but you’re encouraged to replay story missions in freeplay mode where you can use any character you like – which is necessary to get many of the hidden secrets. If you find your belt tightening this year, when it comes to your entertainment budget, then in terms of value for money The Skywalker Saga cannot be beaten.

Rumours suggest that, after one more unannounced game, this might be the end of Warner Bros. and Traveller’s Tales working on Lego games but, assuming they’ve cleaned up their act in terms of work conditions, we sincerely hope note. The Skywalker Saga is a love letter to not just Lego and Star Wars but video games themselves and is the perfect introduction to all three for kids and non-gamers.

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga review summary

In Short: A wonderfully enthusiastic love letter to Lego, Star Wars, and video games in general, that goes above and beyond the call of duty in terms of the scale of the adventure, the attention to detail, and the sheer volume of content.

Pros: A near endless series of things to see and do, with unexpectedly involved gameplay and puzzles. Hundreds of characters and collectibles, great graphics, and surprisingly effective and humorous storytelling.

Cons: Some gameplay elements, especially the ship combat, are a little too complex for inexperienced gamers – undermining a core appeal of the game. Some weird level choices and the skill trees are a little pointless.

Score: 9/10

Formats: PlayStation 5 (reviewed), Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and PC
Price: £49.99
Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Release Date: 5th April 2022
Age Rating: 7

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