LEGO Bricktales PlayStation 5 Review

LEGO Bricktales is an occasionally fun puzzle adventure ruined by an awful camera.

By AlexJohn, Posted 17 Oct 2022

LEGO Bricktales is a puzzle game developed by ClockStone Studio and published by the Thunderful Group. It was reviewed on PlayStation 5 and is available on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, XBOX Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

Taking control of a Minifigure, players adventure across five worlds, solving puzzles and gathering Happiness Crystals to fuel a machine that will rebuild their Grandpa's theme park. It doesn't make much sense, but it's a LEGO game so does it matter? Time spent with LEGO Bricktales is split between exploring the games' dense, detailed worlds, and building solutions to Construction puzzles.


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The variety of Constructions players are tasked with building is impressive and they regularly suit their settings; whether it is one of the games' many bridges or a towering lighthouse on a Caribbean beach, LEGO Bricktales succeeds in scratching an itch only LEGO can reach. The foundation of a solid puzzle game is present in LEGO Bricktales, but the building blocks around it are so frustrating that it stagnates any potential the game has to be great. Turning a simple drag-and-drop system into a teeth-grinding test of patience.

ClockStone Studio made its name with the Bridge Constructor series, and one would expect them to have perfected the intricacies of building mechanics by now. Unfortunately, as much as the studio has completely nailed the LEGO aesthetic, they have struggled to adapt to LEGO Bricktales' 3D nature and almost 360-degree perspective. The camera is LEGO Bricktales' worst offender. Unwieldy and counterintuitive, the camera regularly gets stuck for no apparent reason. It can actively harm the enjoyment of many of the taller puzzles as the camera cuts off the top of the frame, obscuring important information. There is a free-roaming 'manual' camera to offset this but it can be nauseating to control.


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Cursors are very rarely utilized well on consoles, and LEGO Bricktales is yet another title that fails to make them responsive or fun. Due to a confusing connection between the cursor and the camera, bricks have an awful rubber band effect, wherein they sometimes go flying across the room with only a nudge of an analog stick.

There is no sense of upwards progression within the Construction puzzle side of LEGO Bricktales either. Whereas the environmental and traversal puzzles get harder as the game progresses and more powers are unlocked, on the Construction side of things the difficulty of the puzzles is slapdash. LEGO Bricktales contains some brutally difficult puzzles at times. The camera and cursor issues don't help, but every so often an obscenely hard puzzle spings ups bookended by two of the easiest in the game. Building in LEGO Bricktales often requires patience, an attribute that children famously do not have.
 

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When building something out of LEGO in real life, one can feel the bricks physically in their hands, they can follow instruction manuals, and let their imagination run free. LEGO Bricktales struggles with this. On the one hand, the player is left to their own devices to build whatever the puzzle asks them to, but on the other hand, they are pigeonholed into a way of playing by having to curtail their creativity by forcing their creations to attach to mandatory 'Anchor' points. 

Similarly, players must Simulate their creation before completing the puzzles and, while trial-and-error is fun for a while, there comes the point when LEGO Bricktales' lack of guidance becomes frustrating. When bricks are not connected properly they have a red outline, but it would be nice if (after a number of failed attempts) the game provided the player with other kinds of feedback. For example, highlighting structurally unstable bricks that need adjusting.

On to the various worlds in LEGO Bricktales and they are pretty fantastic. As said, ClockStone Studio has nailed the LEGO aesthetic and each world is brimming with individuality and color. While it would have been nice to see less obvious biomes (Jungle, Desert, and CIty levels have been done to death in video games), each one feels different from the last. ClockStone Studio has tried to add a twist to each level, whether through an aesthetic theme (the Desert level features a bazaar overrun by cats) or a narrative throughline (the Medieval level follows a quest to slay a dragon).


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In each level is a shop run by a Ghost Minifigure, and players can use each world's unique currency (e.g., bananas in the Jungle level) to buy two themed costumes, a set of themed LEGO bricks, and four new brick colors. It is very satisfying to see your creations fill the worlds and with the Sandbox mode (unlocked by completing the puzzle), the player can return to their creation and customize it with different colors and bricks.

In each world, the player will also unlock a new power that they will need to use to discover new pathways and find all the collectables. Collectables are not bound to specific worlds however and, in much the same way as in Metroidvanias, players will have to return to completed worlds with their new powers. The single biggest issue with these explorable worlds is the incessant backtracking. The Medieval world suffers the most from this as the player is tasked with going back and forth from one poorly written NPC to another along the same paths. Combine this with the (initially good) soundtracks repeating on loop ad nauseam, and the game begins to drag. 

Rusty is a drone created by the protagonists' Grandpa and upgraded by aliens (on that note, a space-themed level would have been good). It acts as the voice of the protagonist, is the source of the player's powers, and is used in Construction Simulations to test the player's creations. Rusty's AI leaves a lot to be desired; however, struggling with anything beyond simple flat surfaces and slight bumps.


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If it wasn't already hard enough to gauge where a structure failed, Rusty randomly diverging off of pathways only makes matters worse. When there is more than one Rusty involved in the puzzle, the problem only multiplies. As one falls over the rest give up and collapse like dominoes. Meaning that even if 3/4 of your paths are correct, you may not know because the one that failed triggered the other Rustys to keel over before they reached their destination.

When it works, LEGO Bricktales is a breath of fresh air for LEGO fans who are burnt out by grand open-worlds of superheroes and Skywalkers. The visuals are great, the sound design is fun, and the worlds are a joy to explore. However, there are just too many issues to ignore; the camera, Rusty's AI, and the core building controls are bad enough at the start of the game, but they get much worse as more complex builds and uniquely shaped bricks are introduced later on.
 

Alex David Johnson, (@AlexJohnWriting)
News Editor, NoobFeed.

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Thunderful Publishing
Developer(s): ClockStone Games
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: LEGO, Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2022-10-12

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