‘Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’ review: a cosmic toybox full of charm

TT Games brings care, comedy and complexity to one of cinema’s most beloved franchises

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a staggering game. By surrounding the linear co-op campaign fans remember with a gorgeous, gigantic open world full of things to do, TT Games has brought its golden goose up to speed, making its charming Star Wars adaptation more complete and accessible than ever. But 2005 was a long time ago, and the industry has long moved on from some of the quirks of TT’s definitive Lego game design. This is reflected in The Skywalker Saga’s many new features and sweeping changes – but when you reinvent the wheel, sometimes you end up running yourself over.

For the most part, The Skywalker Saga justifies its changes. Characters are fully voice acted (no more mumbling) and if you use the cheat menu to turn the voice-acting off, you’ll quickly realise why that charming approach is better off left in the past. There are so many tummy-hurting non-verbal gags and mountains of slapstick to get through across the episodes, but some of the game’s best jokes are actually in the dialogue.

Especially in the sequel trilogy, where the scenes aren’t as defined by previous entries, the writers do well to lampoon elements of the movies while not removing their emotional impact. It’s not worth spoiling, but I found the way TT handled Han Solo and Kylo Ren’s meetings hilarious but also touching, which is a hard line to tread. These moments are always augmented by the stunning material detail and lighting on The Skywalker Saga’s Lego parts, which will be mind-blowing for little builders. Star Wars fans will love the attention to detail taken with its sound design and score too.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Credit: LEGO.

Of course, when it wants to get silly, The Skywalker Saga gets ridiculous. I spent most of my playthrough howling at daft little gags like characters getting their hands trapped in boxes or small encounters being turned into full-blown boss fights. Even Salacious B. Crumb gets some well-deserved time in the sun…

But outside of the humour, the storytelling has a consistency problem. It can feel both too attached and completely disconnected from the films, in spots. The way the game is structured is such that you adventure through the huge open world, completing tasks that propel the story towards a set of five levels per episode. All the action is delivered in these five missions, and it inevitably feels quite squashed. The Skywalker Saga covers the main beats of the films, but then dashes through a lot of – what I felt – were important scenes. It felt a bit more grown-up than previous Lego Star Wars games due to how focused it is on key bits of dialogue, instead of chaos and silliness. There are high highs but some low lows when it comes to adapting set pieces – some cutscenes should have been missions, and some missions should have been cutscenes. A few adult-themed jokes felt like a weird fit with the kid-friendly tone.

While it might have appeared this remake was going to be more thorough in its adaptations of the movies, letting players cover more ground, the focus instead seems to have been given to the open world that surrounds it, which feels like a separate game entirely, with far more content than the main missions. Don’t get me wrong, the open-world aspect is a hell of a lot of fun, but it can feel like you’re playing two very different games at times.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Credit: Lucasfilm Games

Elsewhere, combat has been upgraded considerably, with cover shooting, Devil May Cry-style attack combos and multi-stage boss fights. The combo melee feels good, but the rest struggles to justify itself, especially the boss fights. It feels like TT has swapped inventive premises for staged ‘whack them until they’re dead’ battles, with a few puzzles mixed in between. I, honestly, preferred the earlier Lego titles’ simplicity and focus on creative problem-solving. Leave the intricacy of lightsaber battles to Fallen Order! With platforming, The Skywalker Saga also adds button prompts for platforming in specific areas instead of actually letting the player figure out the momentum, which doesn’t play nice in open-world environments.

A lot of the changes left me wondering the same thing. At what point does this stop being a good Lego game and become a bad Star Wars game? Lego Star Wars has grown up in a lot of ways, but to whose benefit? The Skywalker Saga’s revised approach to gameplay certainly makes it feel more modern, but when these derivative changes distance it from the heart of Lego Star Wars, I’m not sure they’re justified. What’s sad is that some of these updates create more problems than they solve. There are plenty of situations where the new immersive camera wiles out and leaves you lost, unable to complete a jumping puzzle or use your abilities. This gets very annoying over time, and it’s only made worse by the lack of screen space in co-op, especially in story missions.

Co-op splits the screen vertically, and, while I understand that there may have been no other way given the new immersive perspective of The Skywalker Saga, it really does just cause frustration. I was so excited to play this game in co-op, but in the end, I’ve decided to limit co-op to the open-world segments, as it’s just too annoying in the campaign. Even then, sometimes the split-screen makes a few open-world puzzles impossible and causes navigational difficulties where it’s easier to just drop the second player. The other player can sometimes be pulled into or out of interiors, or lose access to weapons too.

Lego Star Wars
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Credit: Warner Bros. Games

Co-op caused more than a few headaches for me, including a game-breaking glitch where I had to create a new save to finish The Skywalker Saga. The game soft locked when I was travelling between planets in the open-world, and when I loaded it back up I couldn’t get from Kamino to Geonosis in Attack of the Clones. Because you unlock each episode in the trilogies as you go, this meant I would have never been able to play Revenge of the Sith. Luckily this happened earlier in my playthrough rather than later!

The Kyber Bricks and studs let you upgrade abilities and specialise the several schools of 300+ characters, which lets you optimise your play style depending on which minifig you like to use. But because there isn’t that much freedom to the gameplay, it’s hard to see the value in this once you’ve reached the end of the journey.

When there’s nothing more left to do, what was the point in specialising? It feels like a missed opportunity for players to have unique versions of their favourite Star Wars characters that they can rely on instead of constantly swapping to solve puzzles that almost always have binary solutions. The implementation of the force, Jedi Mind Tricks, scavenger tools and more is cool, but you don’t ever get to use them in a way that feels dynamic. The Skywalker Saga is missing something that would let you use these complex characters creatively outside of the game’s binary puzzles.

The good news is that the moment-to-moment movement is a lot of fun, and finding out each character’s special moves and abilities is always a delight. Certain characters understandably have multiple versions, and it was awesome to actually feel their power increase as they aged through the saga, with stronger, quicker attacks and abilities. I just wish I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to them eventually…

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga launches on April 5, 2022. It will be available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. This review is for the PS5 version of the game. 

The Verdict

As a big playpen for Star Wars fans, The Skywalker Saga hits all the right notes thanks to its hilarious writing, audio-visual wonder and oodles of content to explore. However, its poor implementation of co-op and unnecessary complexity causes issues, although you can quite comfortably look past these problems (which in some cases can be patched) in favour of its moreish open-world. This isn’t the Lego Star Wars remake you may have been looking for, but it’s the one we’ve got, for better and for worse.

Pros

  • The ultimate toy box for Star Wars fans
  • Stunning visuals
  • As chaotic and hilarious as ever
  • An absurd amount of content to complete

Cons

  • Camera issues and poor co-op implementation
  • The open-world can feel more important than the story
  • Big changes can sometimes distance it from the heart of Lego Star Wars
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