Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga feels like an incredibly celebratory last dance for one of the most celebrated licensed franchises in gaming.
There are few stories that have been told as many times, across as many different mediums as that of Star Wars. The shot of the Tantive IV flying into the distance, only to be dwarfed by the Star Destroyer overhead, is as iconic as any in the history of cinema, and as such it’s been replicated in games countless times. Each time it’s got slightly better graphics, or a different twist to make it unique, but it’s essentially still the same shot.
However, with Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, TT Games isn’t only recreating a story that’s been told a thousand times. For seven of the nine Star Wars films included, it’s a story it’s already told in the past.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is being billed as the ultimate Lego Star Wars game, and after playing it for an hour, it’s easy to see why. The game features levels and mini open worlds from all nine main films in the saga, including The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, neither of which have been tackled in previous Lego games.
So the first question we had when approaching the demo was: “How is it different?” Sure, they can’t change the story of Star Wars, and in fact we’re shocked about how much bending of the rules that TT Games seem to be getting away with, but it had to do something to make this more than just a remaster of levels that first appeared on the PS2.
Our demo began, appropriately, with Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, and it’s quickly clear that this isn’t simply a retread. Firstly, there are references to films that didn’t even exist when the original trilogy was last depicted in Lego, with Darth Vader appearing in shadow at the end of a corridor, illuminated only by his lightsaber.
Granted, this incorporation of Rogue One isn’t 100% canon for a level based on Episode IV, but it works well, and since Rogue One, Solo, and the more recent Disney shows aren’t getting full depictions, it’s nice to feel their presence, even if it’s just a wink and a nod.
The biggest change to Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is in the gameplay. Lego games have a bit of a reputation for all feeling very similar – smash everything, move on, solve a simple puzzle, smash everything, continue to smash everything.
Within minutes in The Skywalker Saga you’re aiming down sights with a blaster, which in the context of a Lego game feels incredibly refreshing. It’s not the most sophisticated twitch shooting in the world, but it’s fun and the enemies react to where you shoot them, so it’s far from the mindless bashing of the old games.
This is part of The Skywalker Saga’s new class-based system, which makes the characters you play feel hugely different. Jedi can use the force and wield a lightsaber, whereas heroes such as Han Solo and other blaster wielders can aim down sights or gain a tactical advantage with certain interactable elements in the environment.
All of these characters’ classes have skill trees that can be unlocked using special bricks that are earned via achieving True Jedi rank on a mission. This, as fans of the series, will know, involves collecting an overwhelming number of studs in a level.
It could be incredibly frustrating in past games when it would feel like mindless busy work switching between characters to progress through a puzzle that had one solution, but in The Skywalker Saga, puzzles now often have multiple solutions, allowing for a bit of differentiation in gameplay.
This usually means taking an A or B path that will end up in the same place, but if you’re playing solo it means you can focus on a character you enjoy, rather than having to constantly switch off to play as someone you don’t. There are still moments where R2D2 will have to do a bit of hacking or C3PO will need to talk to a computer, but they’re few and far between.
When starting up the game you’ll be presented with all nine films in the saga, split into the three trilogies. You can play the trilogies in any order, but you need to start with Episode I, Episode IV or Episode VII. The films are broken up into around six main levels per film, but between the levels are open areas that are teeming with side quests and collectables. After escaping the empire and landing on Tatooine, we weren’t forced to progress the story and head out to find Ben Kenobi. Instead, we could explore the area around Luke’s home, talking to characters and taking on odd jobs.
These replace the hub areas from the old games and are a very welcome change, especially since some areas that you’d absolutely want to visit aren’t going to be given full levels. All of these open areas also look great. Where possible, the world is made from authentic Lego bricks, which might seem like an odd thing to point out, but in reality, a lot of the old Lego games were made up of environments that either weren’t authentic Lego bricks or simply a few Lego elements in a generic level.
While some areas are still like this, the opening mission on the Tantive IV is comprised exclusively of real bricks, meaning you could theoretically recreate the level in real life if you had literally thousands of pounds’ worth of Lego.
The Lego itself has never looked better, with great lighting, reflections and more bringing the world to life. The facial animations of the characters have also been greatly improved, calling to mind something closer to The Lego Movie than the previous games.
Whether or not Lego characters should talk has been a point of contention, and while The Skywalker Saga will include a “mumble mode” which will make all the dialogue sound like the old games, your first playthrough of The Skywalker Saga will feature fully voiced cutscenes. We found that while some of the soundalikes weren’t 100% perfect, all of the jokes were delivered well, and we found ourselves loudly laughing multiple times.
After playing the game for an hour, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga feels like the team at TT were asked “If you only get to make one more Star Wars game in your life, what would you put in it?” and the answer appears to be “everything”.
It’s celebratory – not only of the Star Wars franchise, but the legacy of Lego Star Wars in a way that those who grew up playing the PS2 games, or collecting the Lego sets will find incredibly charming.
Not only that, but for what is likely the last time this IP is tackled in some time, they’ve made great strides to make sure the game is fresh, and much more interesting to play. We can’t wait to explore all nine films, because if our time in A New Hope is anything to go by, there’s an overwhelming amount of galaxy to explore.