TT Games released the original LEGO Star Wars in 2005, completely changing the studio's direction such was its popularity. Since then we've had countless brickified movie tie-ins, but a few years have passed since one of these family-friendly platformers has graced PlayStation. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is finally here to plug the gap and, fortunately for the fans, it's been worth the wait.
It feels like a simultaneous celebration of the Disney sci-fi series and the games based on those colourful Danish building blocks. This huge title spans the entirety of the nine major films, marking the debut of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker in LEGO game form. While it can initially feel overly familiar — there are numerous iterations in this franchise, after all — the grand scope, attention to detail, and sweeping gameplay changes make it all fresh again.
You start off by choosing the opening episode of your favourite trilogy, and very quickly the scale of the game comes into focus. There are several hundred playable characters and ships to unlock, not to mention the thousands of collectibles littered across the galaxy or the billions of studs you'll obsessively vacuum up. While you're started off playing through the opening scenes of a given Star Wars adventure, it quickly opens up, revealing all these things to find and collect.
Playing through one of the film stories has you taking control of particular characters, and you're led through linear levels connected by wide open spaces. For example, you'll start A New Hope in a straightforward stage ending with C-3PO and R2-D2 escaping to Tatooine. Shortly after, you're free to explore the sandy planet at your leisure, able to pick up the story whenever you're ready.
This combination of linear and free-roam design is part of an effort to make the entire game as seamless as possible. You're not funnelled through a movie's main beats; you're given some breathing room to have fun poking around familiar sights. Each planet consists of one or more sandboxes, and they're all stuffed with collectibles, which can either be out in the environment, locked behind a puzzle, or a reward for completing a simple mission. Basically, when you're not furthering the plot, you can do as you please, even flying into space and to other worlds you've unlocked.
This sense of freedom is exemplified outside the episodes themselves. You can opt to freely explore the galaxy, choosing whichever characters you like from your unlocked roster, flying any ship you have, and going anywhere you've previously visited. It coheres all the things you've seen into one galactic map, essentially turning the game into a sort of open world experience. If you've played through all nine films and unlocked all the locations, exploring in free play almost overwhelms.
Fortunately, it's all a joy to discover, as The Skywalker Saga is full of personality and detail. The typical humour is on display big time, with more knowing winks and nods than you can count. Great voice acting and some brilliant visual gags make each abridged movie a pleasure to play; cutscenes and environments are packed with details that'll have franchise fans grinning from ear to ear. On top of all that, it looks excellent too — the image quality is generally quite crisp and the plastic sheen on characters and other LEGO structures is very convincing. We did spot some rare framerate dips, but by and large the game runs smoothly, maintaining 60 frames-per-second even in split-screen co-op.
What makes this version of LEGO Star Wars better than the rest, though, is the overhauled gameplay. You have manual control of the camera, which is brought in much closer. Characters wielding firearms can aim and shoot with the triggers, while a combo meter now gives more importance to varied melee attacks. It's all pretty simple stuff, but these fundamental changes make the game feel far more modern. There's still not a huge amount of challenge — this is largely aimed at a family audience — but the gameplay's flow is much improved. We will say that there are occasions where the camera can misbehave, particularly in tight interiors, but it's nothing too egregious.
What you'll actually be doing is similar to what's come before. You'll be hot-swapping between a handful of characters as you fight baddies, solve simple puzzles, and engage in basic platforming. That said, boss fights and space battles are more involved, and there are some unique setpiece sequences that keep you on your toes. The essence of LEGO games is still here despite all the changes, and it's hard to have a bad time playing something so easygoing and lighthearted.
Playing through an episode actually doesn't take very long; each film consists of five core levels, and while there are those open environments to explore in between, you can rush through in a couple of hours. The real meat of the game is in free play, whether that's going through those levels again to scoop up anything you missed or exploring planets to their fullest. The beauty of the game's structure is that you can get what you want from it — you can blitz through the stories fairly fast and have a great time, or spend dozens of hours more tracking down Kyber Bricks to purchase upgrades, Datacards to unlock fun extras, and more.
It's all double the fun with a second player, of course. Local co-op is part of the LEGO game identity, and it's as fun here as ever. A vertical split screen makes it so you can both explore as much as you like, although it can be pretty easy to lose each other in the sandbox spaces. We do think it's a shame there's still no online co-op, but what is here works well.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a meaningful step forward, smartly evolving the gameplay without losing that fun-loving core. Kids will love the slapstick humour and colourful sights and sounds, grown-ups will appreciate all the elbow-in-ribs jokes, and both will enjoy just how much there is to do. Despite some very minor issues, it's gram for gram the best LEGO game in a long time, and it's up there with the top Star Wars games to boot.