Before Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, I had fallen out of love with TT Games and WB Games’ Lego titles. The Lego Star Wars, Batman, and Indiana Jones series helped make me passionate about video games as a kid as I spent endless fun (and sometimes frustrating) hours playing them with my brother.
Over time though, I aged out of the series and grew more disappointed with the basic open-world formula the series settled on after great games like Lego City Undercover. I was no longer smitten with one of the series that helped cement my love of video games. That’s why The Skywalker Saga’s bold new direction excites me.
It not only revisits the films behind some of my favorite Lego games, but builds on top of them with more expansive hub worlds, mission variety, and deeper gameplay than previous Lego action games. While The Skywalker Saga’s multiple delays and development issues concerned me, my hands-on with an early build of the game managed to engross me just like the original Lego Star Wars did 17 years ago.
My demo took me through the first 90 minutes of A New Hope, one of the nine Star Wars films represented within The Skywalker Saga. Like every Lego game before it, this segment of the game followed the events of the film it was based on. It features full voice acting (from soundalikes, not the film cast), though I appreciated the inclusion of a “mumble mode” that makes the characters grunt and pantomime as they did in early Lego games.
TT Games also experiments with the iconic opening of A New Hope. Many jokes are present to keep kids entertained, but it also intertwines with the end of Rogue One. The first character I played as was actually Princess Leia, who has the Death Star plans and is trying to escape Darth Vader as he boards the Tantive IV. Somehow, this Lego game made this oft-adapted and parodied plot beat feel fresh.
This mission also served as a tutorial and a demonstration of how The Skywalker Saga differs from previous Lego games. Yes, there are still combat, exploration, and puzzles, but those are deeper than before. A cover-based system has been implemented to make shootouts more involving. Meanwhile, players can now string together melee combos with different moves and counter enemies’ attacks, making melee battles more enjoyable than before. Character classes and abilities also ensure fights in this game are more than simple button-mashing affairs.
Missions often give players multiple options to complete objectives, whether that’s because of a specific Lego build players can create or the abilities of their playable character. It’s no Devil May Cry, but these deeper gameplay systems made sure my eyes didn’t gloss over out of boredom within the first hour, something I can’t say for the last couple of Lego games I played.
The Skywalker Saga made a strong first impression on me and excited me to see how the rest of A New Hope would unfold. I was able to play as Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, meet Obi-Wan Kenobi, recruit Han and Chewbacca, and explore the Death Star before my demo ended. While this is the second time TT Games is adapting this material, it feels completely new because of the revamped approach to storytelling, level design, and gameplay design.
During my demo, I only scratched the surface of what the game had to offer. The Skywalker Saga seems to be the most densely packed Lego game yet, as all nine mainline Star Wars films have been recreated here. Not only are there linear levels based on the main plot points and set pieces of each film, but there are large hubs on planets and areas in space that players can explore and complete side missions within.
As players complete the stories of more films and gain access to more characters, ships, and planets, the amount of options players will have at their disposal will only continue to grow. The Skywalker Saga also has a progression system to back that amount of content up ,as missions reward players with Kyber Bricks that players use to unlock and enhance abilities on skill trees.
Yes, this game has skill trees to complement the aforementioned classes — which include Jedi, Smugglers, and Protocol Droids — and their abilities, which is useful during and outside of combat. Systems like this bring TT Games’ Lego series more up to par with its action game peers and make it feel like the franchise has finally grown up. As The Skywalker Saga will be the first Lego game in years to appeal to those with nostalgia for the series’ earliest game, it’s a relief to see that it won’t disappoint.
Of course, The Skywalker Saga still will be approachable enough for kids thanks to its visuals, humor, and approachable gameplay basics, but it finally doesn’t seem like that’s coming at the sacrifice of engaging gameplay for older players. While I thought I had aged out of ever liking a Lego game again, this demo of The Skywalker Saga revealed that I could still love these games — they just had to catch up to me first.
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