‘LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’ Review: The Force Is Strong In These Studs
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Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, TT Games
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga feels like the culmination of the decades of work developers TT Games have put into the LEGO Star Wars franchise. Every aspect is built with passion and love for both the story and the studs. Whether that's flying the Millennium Falcon through a crashed Star Destroyer on Jakku or lingering around an area on Kashyyyk for a little too long as the monologuing hologram of Palpatine realises he needs to update his voicemail to say ‘Emperor’.
It's all such a joy.
Loading up the game it's easy to think that the core enjoyment will come purely from playing through the entire saga - but after a while, it becomes apparent the stand out feature is Free Play. As you progress through the game, each area you visit unlocks on the Galaxy Map, and by switching to Free Play you can travel wherever you want, in whatever ship you like, as whichever character takes your fancy. Like I said in my preview, “it’s sort of like emptying your box of Star Wars LEGO all over the floor and playing exactly how you want. And isn’t that exactly what you’d want from a LEGO game?”
As great as that seemed in my preview though, there are moments of conflict. The narrative beats move at such a fast pace, the game flying through cutscenes with enough accuracy and wit that you don’t realise how much has really been abridged. Key moments from across the saga are glossed over, including Luke reuniting with R2-D2 during The Last Jedi. But this isn’t much of an issue when you consider the massive undertaking of retelling an entire nine-movie saga in one video game, with five levels per movie. Cutscenes inherently have to take a backburner to gameplay, and that’s fine. The issue instead, is how these moments clash with the new semi-open world aspects.
Throughout each trilogy, you will arrive at large-scale recreations of iconic locations in the galaxy, each a semi-open world. Some you may only visit once, like the cloning facility on Kamino; and others will become recurring (and overly repetitive) characters in their own right, like the planet Coruscant.
Here in The Skywalker Saga, TT Games has built a really quite large and grand replica of several of the planet’s districts. I was in genuine awe several times at the absolute scale of it. But the issue is that I travelled from point A to point B on Coruscant more times than I can count. Heading to Mustafar as Padmé, I had to leave her apartment, travel to a different district and then sprint to my ship. As Qui-Gon, I’d arrive from Tatooine in The Phantom Menace and have to take the overly long walk to the Jedi Temple.
Heck, even on Ahch-To, the game sent me backwards and forwards on the island, moving between cutscenes. It makes sense in the movie to see Rey’s pain following Luke, learning his island hermit lifestyle, but here it just feels like unnecessary padding.
It's not a huge issue, but when there’s a narrative flow, having these moments progress in an open-world area can be a really unfortunate slog. I can’t be too harsh on this though, as the areas look fantastic and there are plenty of hidden bits and bobs to find and unlock. And I mean plenty, as there are over 300 characters to unlock.
As much as the constant back and forth between locations can get repetitive, one aspect that doesn’t is space travel. Having the ability to pop back to your ship during a mission and fly off wherever you fancy in the galaxy is incredibly freeing. Leaving a planet and flying to the space around your destination planet only to be dropped into a dogfight is always a nice thrill. The iconic sights and sounds of a Star Wars battle are enough to bring a smile to the most jaded fan.
Some planets and areas get more love than others, D’Qar in The Force Awakens seems pretty unpolished, whereas Theed, Mos Eisley and Maz Kanata’s Castle look stunning. I guess that comes with the scale of the project, and time has to be spent on locations that fans are most likely to scrutinise.
There’s also the overabundance of the same types of puzzles (looking specifically at the Astromech Droid mini-game) that pad out levels and slow down your progression, and even somewhat finicky vehicle controls that at times can really dampen the entire experience.
There are several different character classes to unlock each with its own special abilities that can open new areas in previously played levels. Players picking up the Deluxe Edition of the game will have the Mandalorian as a controllable character. In an early part of The Phantom Menace, I was given a side-mission to rebuild some statues and find the missing pieces. The head of one statue was locked off in a way that needed a Bounty Hunter ability, so I switched from Obi-Wan to Din Djarin and blasted my way through! Of course, just progressing through Attack of the Clones would have granted me Jango Fett and Zam Wesell… but I wanted to make progress at that moment.
Despite my issues with the open-world hubs, repetitive mini-games and the obvious padding, it’s so damn hard to stay annoyed at LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Getting the chance to explore all these iconic Star Wars locations in a way we’ve not been able to before (not counting Star Wars Galaxies, RIP). The slapstick LEGO humour that fully takes its shots at the ridiculous, and hypes up iconic memes (“Hello There”) is always a delight, and swapping between so many characters and experiencing their different play styles is more often than not enough to change up the game considerably. And, it's a LEGO game… just going off the beaten track to find a Kyber Brick or a side-mission that leads to a new character all adds to the scale of this massive undertaking that really does feel like a project of passion, that fans of all ages will enjoy.
I should also mention that the voice cast is stellar. Voice work in LEGO games has been hit and miss, especially in the times they’ve ripped sound directly from the movies. In this case, the voices are all brand-new recordings - and it works. Having each character be fully voiced allows the transition between cutscene and gameplay to feel more natural, and allows characters to vocally respond to the slapstick humour. The cast does a stand-up job with the characters, and in the setting of a LEGO video game I didn’t really miss the original cast.
Don’t expect to be challenged by LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. This is very much a LEGO game through and through, and although you may be an ageing millennial in their early 30s looking for your next challenge after Elden Ring, please be aware that's not going to come here. There may be a silly little puzzle that stumps you for longer than necessary, leaving you feeling like a proper silly Happabore, but nothing more than that. This is the kind of game you play to chill out and explore, or bond with a partner or child over, embracing the joy of the experience.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the complete Star Wars video game experience, in a way only a LEGO game can be. If there was ever to be a Skywalker Saga: The Video Game ‘proper’, it wouldn’t have a chance to let players experience all the wild wonders of the universe like this. A movie-faithful adaptation wouldn’t let you run around Hoth as General Grievous alongside Yaddle and, in all honestly, that's all I’ve ever wanted.
Pros: Hilarious LEGO humour, built by fans, exploring the entire galaxy is a joy
Cons: Open-world aspects can bog down the narrative, a few glitches, glaring graphical pop-in
For Fans Of: LEGO Star Wars games, Star Wars and LEGO
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is out now for Xbox consoles (version tested on Xbox Series X), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and PC. Review code was supplied by Warner Bros. Find a guide to GAMINGbible’s review scores here.