There have been dozens of LEGO games released over the years, but one fan-made creation is diving into a long-forgotten (and much beloved) product line: Bionicle. The newly-revealed Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui aims to be a fan-made (and completely free) open-world adventure that's looking like the game many of us had dreamed of.
Check out the Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui trailer for yourself and revel in the nostalgic action:
If you happen to be unfamiliar with Bionicle, then you've missed out on one of the coolest things LEGO ever created. Essentially, these were buildable action figures that featured interchangeable masks and deep lore. (Yes, there was LEGO lore.)
The Bionicle line made used of more advanced pieces akin to the Technic line of products and was intended for a slightly older audience than usual. While quite popular in their heydey (so much so that it spawned an official video game), Bionicle quietly went away a long time ago. Now, a fan-made game is set to bring it all back with some pretty spectacular graphics.
Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui promises an engaging, varied combat system in a world packed with quests, fierce enemies, and a heck of a lot to explore. The fighting we've seen in the trailer seems to have a strong focus on dodging and timing your attacks, too.
Behind the Scenes of Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui
I managed to get a quick chat with the lead developer about this upcoming game. Suffice it to say, I am very intrigued.
Nearly 20 years ago, the lead developer and creator "Crainy" first got into the Bionicle toys. The colorful adventures he imagined fueled his desire to make this free fan game a reality.
"I distinctly remember seeing the first Bionicle commercial that was ever aired on TV and since then [I've] been a huge fan of the franchise all my life," Crainy explained. "I think Bionicle managed to create a very interesting world with a very unique atmosphere that is worth bringing to the attention of more people. Even as a kid, I wanted to explore that world in a proper RPG, so basically with this project [I'm] making the game that [I've] always wanted to play since I was a kid."
Part of the fun of playing with toys like LEGO is doing it with your friends — and Crainy didn't forget about that, either. Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui is going to have a pretty robust multiplayer component. The first generation of toys had six core characters, and that's why this game will have a maximum of six slots for multiplayer. Crainy likens it to the Skyrim multiplayer mods in a sense and that all players will be more or less "equal" to one another in terms of how the story is handled in multiplayer situations.
For the longest part, this has been a one-man project, however over the course of development I had incredibly valuable help from a number of key contributers, especially in the area of 3D [modeling]. — Crainy, Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui Project Lead
One of the elements that intrigued me the most was the combat. I outright asked Crainy if this combat was close to (or inspired by) Dark Souls and he immediately dashed my dreams.
"Haha, I knew something like this would come up," Crainy stated. "Well[,] I would say [it's] not accurate. The game definitely takes some cues from FromSoftware games, especially in regards to some of the combat[,] but it has a different flow and pacing compared to something like Dark Souls."
Although it won't quite be the Dark Souls of LEGO games like it may appear at first glance, that's not to say that Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui won't provide a heck of a challenge.
"[I] am aiming for an experience that definitely challenges the player and requires the player to be methodical," Crainy assured me. "I think there is [a lot] of value in having a game require effort from the player and use the mechanics given to their fullest. At the same time, [I'm] not aiming for an experience that is so hard that most people will have huge trouble completing it. And there [won't] be adjustable difficulty."
When is the Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui Release Date?
This Bionicle fan game looks undeniably cool, but when will we be able to get it?
Regrettably, the developers have not yet announced a release date for this fan-game. The trailer's description states that it's been in development for the last six years, so one hopes that is a sign that we're closer to release than not.
One thing that is clear is Crainy's commitment to putting out a quality product.
"There currently is no clear release date. I want to make sure that when I release a public version, it is a product of consistent quality that delivers a more or less complete Bionicle experience that old and new Bionicle fans can enjoy to the fullest. I am less interested in releasing work in progress versions where only a fraction of the features are working and present as intended. Of course, beta tests will take place and I will release more information on that later down the line."
There is, of course, the concern of the developers getting hit with a DMCA from LEGO. I'm honestly not sure how this will play out; I can't recall ever seeing a LEGO fan-game before, much less one that got hit with legal action. Hopefully, they'll be able to navigate the treacherous waters of fan games and come out on the other side unscathed. Crainy, for his part, emphasized that they will not be charging any money — this will definitely be a completely free release.
For now, we can keep our fingers crossed that this free fan game will eventually see a public release. Be sure to swing by the developers' Discord server and chat with their quickly-growing community!
What do you think of Bionicle: Quest for Mata Nui? Did you play with Bionicle toys when you were a kid? Let us know in the comments below!