Playing Games with LEGO: A BrickTales Review

I love gaming just as much as I love LEGO. I’ve been a gamer all my life, from Tetris, Minesweeper and Ski Free, to Age of Empires, Sim City, Call of Duty, GTA, Minecraft and many more. When it was revealed that BrickTales, a LEGO video game was coming, I was immediately interested. Thanks to the crew at Thunderful Games/Plan of Attack, I was able to get an early copy of the game to check out. 

The basic premise of the game is that you’re the grandchild of an crazy inventor who’s made portals through space and time. It’s your job to find out what went wrong when the first test didn’t work quite right. It’s a pretty loose plot, but it works to get you across to different landscapes – the jungle, a city, desert, a medieval castle and a tropical island without too much added story.

The visuals in the game are really special. Chock full of LEGO details (obviously), the builds are all roughly created to look like they’re restricted to baseplates, and nice little transparent studs acting as particle effects. Throw in clever lighting, some fun animations and levels I’d love to see built in real life, the game looks wonderful. I have the PC version through Steam, so I’ve been using a keyboard and mouse. The movements around the map are odd. The camera is set at an angle, and you can’t just press forward no matter what direction you’re standing in. If you want to go forward you need to press forward and the left or right key at the same time to get you in the right direction. Just pressing forward will make you go diagonally across the studs, although you’re going forward on your screen. It’s a little strange to get used to, and might be difficult for younger players to get their heads around. There’s a bit of reading to do, as the dialogue isn’t spoken at all, but appears as speech bubbles, but the text is clear and fun.

My favourite feature about the visuals is the overall view – when you press Escape, you not only go back to the main menu, but the camera zooms out to show you the entire level. The character is customisable which is fun too.

The visuals are great, but what’s really special is the build portions. Being a LEGO game, building was a must. Obstacles and puzzles need to be solved by building things. Click the hammer hologram and you’re brought into the build zone, very similar to a very stripped back LEGO Digital Designer or interface. You’re given a limited selection of parts to build your chosen task, and then it’s put through testing simulations, where a little robot tests it out to see if it will break or last the distance. It’s a lot of fun, and there’s plenty of helpful prompts at the start to get you going. Once it’s done you can go back again and use the Sandbox mode, where you’re given a few more parts (Sandbox isn’t really the right word) to make it look a little more snazzy.

As you progress through the game you’re offered parts collections in different colours to add to your sandbox, but I guess it means going back to tweak them. It’s a very point to point game, so I don’t anticipate many people wanting to really go back. The first sandbox mode I entered was limited to some red elements, that didn’t go with the build at all.

All that being said, it’s a fun game and one I’ll come back to later, to explore more. I played through the first hour or so and the build sections were just as fun as just exploring the build details in the levels. It’s not just a video game that looks like LEGO, there’s the integral build mechanics in there as well, which is a huge plus.

The game is out right now on PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox and Nintendo Switch for US $29.99 / €29.99 / £24.99 / AU $42.95.

Thanks very much to Thunderful for providing the game to test out!