I am admittedly not the smartest guy, and as such, I really don’t like puzzles. If there’s a puzzle in a game, I’ll probably just look up how to solve it. They’re not my thing, and I gravitate more toward straightforward games as a result.
So it may surprise you to hear that Lego Bricktales, which is entirely made up of physics puzzles, was one of my favorite games at PAX East 2022. I can’t make that make sense, but I’ll explain it to the best of my abilities.
Piece by piece
Lego Bricktales is, on the outside, a very simple game. In the demo I played at PAX, I was a little Lego guy wandering around small, intricately crafted environments. According to a PR person who helped me out during my demo, the game will have a number of different-themed biomes when it launches. Players will build through jungles, deserts, and Caribbean Islands filled with pirates.
But during my time with the game, I only saw the inside of some kind of laboratory (where I learned the basics) and that jungle area.
In other Lego games, players usually adventure through some curated world based on a popular IP. A massive Lego Star Wars game just launched as a matter of fact, but Lego Bricktales isn’t like that. It also doesn’t seem to be telling its own original story like Lego City Undercover. Instead, the game is all about its puzzles, and as such, all about building things with Lego.
Throughout Lego Bricktales, you’ll be presented with simple problems. There’s a lever you need to reach that’s across a gap, for instance. The game will then give you a prompt and you’ll enter a clean building space where you build a bridge out of Lego parts. Of course, this is one very specific puzzle, but it’s an easy example. After building your bridge, you’ll then run a simulation where a robot rolls over your construction. If they make it through to the other side safely, your creation is plopped straight into the game’s world for you to actually use.
The process of actually building things that I experienced wasn’t the best, but I blame the controller for that. Lego Bricktales actually has some pretty intuitive controls for moving small Lego pieces around in a 3D space, but throwing an Xbox controller (or really any controller that isn’t a keyboard and mouse) into the mix made the whole experience clunkier than it should have been.
Still, it was extremely satisfying to build out my own creations with a selected number of pieces. The game even gives players too many pieces for a structure, which points to one brilliant revelation: There is no one right answer to any puzzle. My goal was to get the robot from point A to point B, that’s it, and I ended up building things that the PR person guiding me hadn’t seen before.
Build to your heart’s content
I’m going to circle back for a second to the fact that the game routinely gave me more pieces than I needed to build something. Sure, that meant that there are multiple solutions to every puzzle, and that’s great. But more importantly, it means that players can build to their heart’s content.
Not every piece I was given was useful for building. Some were facades, meant to give Lego’s usually rough-looking bricks a smooth finish. The game actively gives its players the means to decorate the answers to their puzzles. You don’t have to — I didn’t — but you can, and that speaks to the heart of Lego. As far as I could tell, the solutions to puzzles aren’t something you’ll be able to go back and revisit. Once they’re in the game’s world, that’s it, they’re a permanent fixture that you’ll probably see one other time.
But according to the PR person guiding me through my experience, players won’t just be limited to building physics puzzles. Lego Bricktales will also include a free-build mode, and that’s something I think anyone can get excited about. At one point or another, we’ve all seen what people can do with a bucket full of Lego bricks; they’ll recreate the Taj Mahal or some other historic landmark. While I’m not sure if that kind of building will be possible, having an easily accessible digital space to build in with Lego is something I can’t help but see the novelty in.
Lego Bricktales is set to release sometime this year, although its full slate of platforms hasn’t been announced. The game will at least be coming to PC via Steam, where it can be wish-listed.