Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
LEGO is something that while seemingly so simple on its own as individual bricks, can cross generations and create the most amazing displays. Crossing said generations to build said displays, ClockStone STUDIO and Thunderful Publishing’s LEGO: Bricktales is the story of you and a robot as you travel to different times and places to find happiness crystals to save the amusement park that your grandfather is responsible for.
As your grandfather finished building his portal machine, he kind of forgot about the amusement park above his lab that he was supposed to take care of and bring into tip top shape. With the mayor’s impending visit, this is where you come in. Using the now completed portal to travel to distant places such as the desert, the middle ages, or the Caribbean, you’ll need to help the people in these places to get their thanks. While it doesn’t sound like much, the people’s combined thanks can be turned into a happiness crystal which you need to revitalize and power each area of the amusement park.
To start helping people and obtain these happiness crystals, LEGO: Bricktales finds itself in an interesting crossroads of gameplay elements. Having faced off against Orcs in Middle Earth, villains in Gotham, New York, traveled the stars in Star Wars or the secret passages of Hogwarts, each has its own take on adventure, but this? While scaled back in one sense, Brick Tales has set up a whole new adventure type and I want more.
Gameplay in Bricktales is actually rather basic. You move around, either with WASD, your mouse or a joystick on a controller. From there, you can interact with people or objects. There’s no combat, there’s no dodging, there is simply moving around at a relaxing pace until it comes time to either solve a puzzle, or, do what we came here to do and build LEGO!
Building LEGO is easy. Changing into a whole other interface, you get a view of your canvas and of the pieces that you have in order to build what is required. Bridges, ramps, staircases, a new yoga studio or an elevator platform, each will be a unique challenge. Not only do the pieces available change, but how you lay them out come with both objectives and restrictions.
Objectives are generally pretty easy with one of the most common ones being that nothing can break. While this sounds simple enough, at times it’s anything but as you will most likely be tempted to overcomplicate the design, but, it’s part of the fun. To meet these objectives, once you’ve seen your canvas, you’ll see where your pieces can start from which lets you formulate a plan to try out. Only adding to the challenge though are restricted zones which can be seen on screen by transparent lines. These lines exist to tell you where your pieces are allowed to go horizontally and vertically as you can’t simply put things wherever you want.
So with your objectives and your restrictions in place, it’s time to build! Building what is required can be done by simply picking up a LEGO piece and putting it where you want. Always needing to snap into place, the only requirement is that it must also be attached to one of the starting points. From there though, whether we are talking about actual LEGO bricks that are 1×1, 2×4 or the flatter longer pieces. As long as they connect, and that they don’t break apart, odds are that you’ll be completing what is required.
This one area had been a bit curious for how well it would work. Building LEGO in real life is easy as you have the pieces in your hands and can rotate and snap together as you see fit. Having grown up building LEGO on Christmas or my birthdays with my Dad, it was our thing and it was always something to look forward to which is why LEGO can so easily cross generations. So on top of having lost him almost a decade ago now, it’s sad that he never got the chance to see the LEGO sets designed for adults such as the LEGO Ideas Ship in a Bottle that I built for the anniversary of his passing last year, or, the LEGO Forbidden West: Tallneck that I built for myself after Platinuming Horizon and starting Forbidden West.
Building LEGO in LEGO: Bricktales while not as “hands-on” per say, is still fairly satisfying and robust. Moving pieces and snapping them together is fairly easy as all you need to do is pick them up from your display grid and put them where you want. If you need a different angle, you simply need to either rotate the camera or pan it around for a better view of where you want to look. If a piece isn’t quite fitting properly, or you need to put it under or over an existing piece, there are quick keys on the keyboard or assigned buttons on the controller so that it’s never a chore. It’s simply an extension keeping the whole process smooth.
Once you’re ready to test out your design, there’s a shiny button that says “Simulate” and once you click on that, you’ll generally see a trusty LEGO robot wheeling their way to test it out. Does it break? Does it hold together? Does it get all four robots down the fire escape staircase that you had to build? Only clicking on that button will help you find out and until all of your objectives light up, such as “didn’t break” or get all robots to their assigned spots, you won’t be able to move forward. So it’s a good thing that the rest of the interface is easy to put pieces in and move them around. If you need to remove pieces? One quick click and the part goes back to your loadout ready and waiting for you if you need it again.
What’s really neat about all of this though is that once you’ve successfully completed the challenge, you’ll be able to enter a sandbox mode allowing you unlimited pieces and your own personal inventory to make it as pretty as possible. For this though, you’ll need to explore to find each area’s currency to buy new blocks from the ghost vendor. If you’re like me however, I started off on the fashion train instead as I needed out of the default look and into swanky explorer pants, knight’s top and a pirate hat with an eye patch matey!
To find all of this currency, and other collectibles, you’ll have to solve the other set of puzzles that LEGO: Bricktales has to offer. While moving around, there will be some locations that are blocked off and won’t really be unlocked until later in the adventure. Starting off with nothing more than being able to interact with switches or levers, you’ll start to unlock powers for the robot that is helping you out. Starting off with being able to stomp the ground to break certain objects, you’ll soon after be able to see items that are currently invisible as they need to be materialized into this plane. From there, you’ll be able to wash the muck off of switches or raise water levels, power up teleportation pads or be your very own Marty McFly with a hoverboard.
With how much time can go into the actual LEGO puzzles which includes simulated testing in order to get right, I appreciated that this exploration was never really complicated and kept low key. Combined they make for a really great adventure that will keep you busy for at least a dozen hours before going back to find all of the things still left to uncover. There are the currencies to buy new clothes and bricks, or, handing in twenty of specific animals, lizards or bugs to those asking for them.
Of PCs, controllers and Steam Decks
On a final note, and a newer one for me at any rate, LEGO: Bricktales works great “across the board”. Having started out on a Desktop PC with an ultrawide monitor (where the screenshots come from), I soon switched over to the second third of the adventure on Valve’s Steam Deck in handheld mode before getting a third party dock and finishing the last third while plugged into a TV with a PS5 controller in Bluetooth.
The only “hiccup” that I ever saw is that while in handheld mode, the first time you use a special ability such as slamming the ground, seeing what’s invisible, spray water, etc, there’ll be a slight lag before things smooth into place until you shut down the software. So really? Play LEGO: Bricktales however you see fit as it should cater to your preference in this case.
ClockStone STUDIO and Thunderful Publishing’s LEGO: Bricktales was a delight to sit down to and enjoy. With a relaxing exploration system that leads into a more complex and hands-on simulation where you get to actually build lego as you see fit for the challenge at hand, there’s more than enough here for builders of any caliber to enjoy.Score: 9 / 10