LEGO Bricktales is the latest attempt by LEGO to diversify its gaming portfolio beyond the formula popularised by TT Games. While some of these attempts have been worse than others, LEGO Bricktales is the latest in a line of successes.
This is a puzzle game about a young minifig on their way to visit their grandfather, a mad scientist living beneath a gone-to-seed amusement park. You must help him repair the park before the Mayor evicts him. Then your grandfather’s robot assistant warps in from a different dimension decrying the power of happiness crystals, an energy source that can restore all the broken-down attractions. Tonally, it’s a bit much, and the writing can get pretty tiresome. The game is content to spout wacky scientific jargon in lieu of telling proper jokes. It left us wishing we could power through most conversations and get to the good stuff: the gameplay.
Collecting these crystals takes you to five different dimensions, each with a distinctive look and feel. Some, like the Medieval or City areas, lean into classic sets and aesthetics LEGO is associated with, and others like the jungle biome do their own thing. Each biome is distinct from the others, and the spaces you walk through house many secrets. The pause menu opens a diorama-styled camera angle, allowing you to find anything you may be seeking on the vividly colourful maps. Ultimately, this basic exploration is just a means to guide you to the core puzzles. Tasks such as "build a bridge from point A to point B" give you a large number of pieces with which to accomplish your goal. It's impressively freeform, offering innumerable solutions for many of the puzzles, and it taps into the spirit and ingenuity of LEGO. So what if what you created isn’t the optimal way to do it? What matters is it worked.
This malleable gameplay is the crown jewel on what would otherwise have been an average exploration-adventure title. The presentation is excellent, and the colour palette is vibrant and exciting, but the moments where you have to figure out how to build something are the moments sure to stick with you.