LEGOs are one of those things that feel near ubiquitous. Most folks have probably at least seen them before, and some might still be active fans today thanks to the more complex (and expensive) box sets geared toward adults. LEGO Bricktales, developed by Clockstone (the same folks behind Bridge Constructor Portal), takes us back to our earliest days with LEGO, capturing that childlike wonder that sparks after snapping two bricks together. With its lighthearted narrative and playful attitude, LEGO Bricktales is shaping up to be a wonderful supplement to real-world bricks for LEGO fans of any age.
LEGO Bricktales Sparks the Imagination
At its core, LEGO Bricktales is a puzzle game. You have to get from point A to point B, and the solution almost always involves building something with bricks. Bridges, stairs, and even hovercrafts need to be made, and it's up to you to bring your imaginative vision to life.
A majority of your time will be spent on a screen that looks reminiscent of the Gummi Ship builder from the Kingdom Hearts series. The 3D grid is separated along x-, y-, and z-axes, giving you a play space to build. It's not all fun and games though; you're building with purpose.
Early in the tutorial, the game gives you a pretty basic problem: build a short bridge. You have a pool of different LEGO bricks to use, but they're limited. You could theoretically use all of them or the bare minimum -- as long as it works. When you're done building, you run a simulation in which a robot goes across the bridge. If it breaks, you can keep tinkering until the bridge stays stable.
LEGO Bricktales checks for success in various ways. One puzzle required a platform that could hold the weight of two LEGO people. To test this, the simulation drops two weights on opposing sides of the platform, and they have to stay supported for a handful of seconds. So your creation may not crumble in the first second, but if it fails after a few more, you're just shy of completing the challenge.
It's during these moments that you can find that pure joy that only comes with playing around with some LEGO bricks. As long as things snap together and fit in the boundaries, you can pretty much build whatever you want. Getting used to the user experience might take a bit of effort though; it's a little finnicky when it comes to judging depth perception.
You'll be testing the boundaries of the physics in LEGO Bricktales, and iterating on these solutions could easily spark your imagination, especially for the younger audience. When you build a LEGO bridge in the real world, it's still surrounded by reality, like your carpet, the dining room table, or various paraphernalia that reminds you of reality. In LEGO Bricktales though, that bridge is realized in this imaginary world, letting you cross over a river and explore deeper into the jungle.
By no means is LEGO Bricktales a replacement for real-life LEGOs -- after all, few things rival the power of human imagination. However, it's a wonderful supplement to someone's brick collection. Alternatively, it could be your gateway into (re)discovering your love for some bona fide bricks (I hear the Horizon Forbidden West Tallneck set comes out soon…).
The Whimsical World of LEGO Bricktales
If there's anything that the recent LEGO games and movies have taught us, it's that any world realized by these bricks has a pleasant sense of humor and charm to them. That's just as true here in LEGO Bricktales. Everything in the world is built by bricks, even smoke rising from wreckage. Your character is a customizable LEGO person, and every NPC (so far) features that same familiar build.
The dialog in the demo was equally as charming as the world, with some playful, tongue-in-cheek, family-friendly humor. It's light, breezy, and delightful, but it doesn't indulge so much that you're away from the action for long. It's a whimsical world that you could spend hours in if you wanted to.
And you theoretically could. While the story mode will span a handful of biomes, including a jungle, desert, and city, there's potentially infinite hours that await in the game's planned sandbox mode. While that sandbox mode wasn't available in the PAX East demo I played, the concept sounds simple and enticing enough. After all, it's like the digital equivalent of handing someone a giant tub of LEGOs. For years, we've seen all sorts of marvelous creations come out of Minecraft's sandbox mode, so it's no surprise that LEGO Bricktales would aim to have the same feature.
Though to be fair, you may not even need the sandbox mode to come up with some crazy ideas. While I was playing LEGO Bricktales, Gregor Ebert, who was showing me the game, was chatting with a colleague about an interesting bridge that someone before me had built. They had a laugh and talked about sending it to the development team so they could see the sort of ingenuity on display at the show floor. Needless to say, when the game opens its doors to the wider public, we can only expect those bridges to get even weirder -- and wilder.
LEGO Bricktales is slated to launch some time in 2022 on PC, PlayStation platforms, and Xbox platforms.