Under ordinary circumstances, we wouldn’t blame you for hearing “mobile game” and immediately fleeing to the nearest forest, but this is one mobile-game-turned-console-title that’s worth your time. A puzzle game making the most out of everyone’s favorite plastic bricks, LEGO Builder’s Journey is a puzzle game with a whole lot of flair.
Visually, the game is stunning, presenting these assortments of plastic in the best possible light. Literally. The lighting in the game is surprisingly great, given the simplistic nature of the visual presentation. Shadows are nuanced, and the little dioramas that comprise each map react to the changes in light as you move pieces about. A segment in the story mode where you navigate darkened environments with only occasional pulses of illumination makes particular use of this.
The puzzles themselves are generally clever, though more rigid in their solutions than you might expect of something with the limitless creativity of LEGO. You are tasked with navigating a character from one end of a diorama to another by placing pieces to craft pathways for them. Placing them greets you with a satisfying click, though getting the piece to hover exactly where you want will occasionally be a challenge.
Each segment of the game even has its own gimmick. One segment calls for smooth pieces to act as a skateboard track, whereas another requires creating patterns on an industrial press. This flexibility ensures the puzzles never get stale despite their rigidity, although the solutions do get more flexible as you approach the end. Still, with the whole experience clocking in at barely 90 minutes, that freedom doesn’t last long.
Apart from the puzzle mode, there is a creative mode, where you can build your own dioramas. Choosing from one of eight templates, you use a pre-selected assortment of bricks to build whatever your heart desires and then take it over to photo mode to show off your handiwork. Much like with the story mode, it’s not the most robust of systems, but it does what it sets out to do well enough.
Ultimately, the biggest obstacle for the game might be its price. $19.99 for this experience feels like a lot, even if everything being offered is perfectly pleasant. The story mode is nice, but not necessarily worth a replay. Creative mode is fun to tinker around with once or twice, but there’s just no hook to draw you back in to play it again and again.