Review: LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

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The hardest part of writing this review has been not playing the game long enough to write it. That doesn’t normally happen with me, I’m a big fan of having my fill of a game, penning a review, and moving on. But not this time. The Skywalker Saga is a perfect mix of immensely engaging and endlessly sprawling, a game that can ask me to do the same thing at hour 60 that it asks at hour 1 and I agree to it eagerly. It breaks a surprising amount of ground for a Star Wars game, and also remains fun and light-hearted enough that you’ll never really tire of it. And not even the technical issues can mar my enjoyment of this massive adventure.

“The Skywalker Saga” refers to the nine mainline Star Wars movies that chronicle the rise, fall, and legacy of Darth Vader. From the lakes of Naboo to the sands of Tatooine, and all the way to the blasted surface of Exegol, you can play through all of the big beats of the Star Wars films. But unlike previous LEGO games, this isn’t so neatly broken up into stages. Each episode has five story missions, but they’re stitched together through open-world exploration across 28 planets seen in the movies, often with scripted events and cutscenes to fill in the gaps between missions. You’ll fly the trench run, battle the Separatist leaders, and take down Starkiller base, but you’ll also defrost Rebels at Echo Base, serve up orders at the diner on Coruscant, and rummage through Maz Kanata’s castle. And if you can believe it, playing through the events of the films is only the start of your journey.

As far as a retelling of the Star Wars epic, the LEGO version hits all the right notes. It sometimes picks some unexpected moments to turn into missions, like Yoda’s battle with the droid armies on Kashyyyk or Princess Leia running around on the Tantive IV, but always turns these into fun romps. The open-world segments are also plenty of fun and do a lot to round out the story, taking you through notable events while also leaving you free to roam for cash and collectibles. Missions contain plenty of variety, including space battles, large army clashes, on-rails shooting sequences, and more. Even the normal on-foot adventuring gets mixed up with multiple teams doing things at once and branching paths. Most notably, climactic battles with characters like Darth Vader and Kylo Ren have been given a ton of attention, becoming multi-stage challenges with all sorts of dodging, blocking, and combo mechanics that echo the boss battles of more… severe games.

As fun as playing through the movies is, the cutscenes and dialogue are a huge part of what makes this game so fun. LEGO has really made a name for itself with licensed properties by parodying them without losing their core appeal, and that’s more evident than ever here. Cutscenes are always hilariously slapstick, the major characters all have their own running jokes that get used to great effect over the course of nine episodes, and even the most dramatic scenes get broken down into comedic beats. The big climax to Episode I against Darth Maul had me in tears with how funny it was, for example. You’ll see plenty of that cleverness with every mission and dialogue from random NPCs, too, and the fact that LEGO Star Wars never lets that air of wacky hijinks falter goes a long way towards keeping the game fresh.

Fresh is what you need this to be, too, because the real meat of the game is collecting things. There is a staggering, unconscionable amount of things to find here, between the 380 characters, 100+ ships, dozens of quests and challenges, and more. New to this LEGO outing is the chance to upgrade the abilities of your characters, who are split across about ten different classes. You need kyber bricks for these upgrades, of which there are over 1100 scattered all over the galaxy. The challenges to obtain them range from looking behind corners to planet-hopping odysseys that end in hidden boss battles. Side quests can also be impressively involved, spanning land and space, and throwing you into all kinds of battles and hunts. You can even capture certain capital ships, which essentially turn into secret stages with their own unique events and mechanics.

There’s so much to see and do in The Skywalker Saga, it’s easy to lose sight of what may be this game’s greatest achievement and biggest appeal. This is essentially the first open-world Star Wars game, offering you the chance to freely wander any of the planets and notable locales of the films at your leisure. Sure, you’ve got characters to unlock and collectibles to hunt down all over, but I cannot overstate how magical it is to simply touch down on Coruscant or Kamino or Bespin or Takodana and just be there. The folks who made this game went to incredible lengths to make every location feel like a real place, with beautiful, realistic environments and effects. They meshed this immersion perfectly with their LEGO characters and objects, too, because your bricks and figures look absolutely life-like with plastic seams, reflections, and even sand and dirt caking their surfaces on some worlds.

It’s worth noting there are a fair number of technical issues at the moment, ones that may or may not get sorted out via patches. I’ve had to reload the game a few times because of explosions or textures not rendering correctly. One of the instanced space battle areas is aligned around a background model that can make it really hard to see. Most importantly, there can be crashes from time to time, including one consistent one during an Episode III mission that I had to turn my graphics settings all the way down to get around. Surprisingly, that had little impact on how the game looked, so this one seems both extremely well-optimized and also rather unstable. I’ll also add that I haven’t really lost any progress to crashes, because the game is saving constantly, but it’s definitely an annoyance.

With that out of the way, I really have nothing but love for this one. If nothing else I’ve said in this review has sold you on The Skywalker Saga, let me say this: I have never really liked the LEGO games, not even the Star Wars ones. I’ve played several in the past, but never stuck with any of them for more than a few hours, owing to hollow, simple gameplay and tedious collecting. In stark contrast to that, I am absolutely obsessed with this one. It’s crowded out all my other games, drawing me back day after day to hunt more kyber bricks and character unlocks. Above all, it’s just fun. It never forgets how light-hearted and charming it is, and everything it offers the player is there to help you enjoy it even more. This is the Star Wars game I’ve been waiting decades for, an open-world romp that does everything it can to make you enjoy your time in a vast galaxy of adventure.

One comment

  • I learned the other day the Lego games now use proper, bespoke voice acting, which shows how long it’s been since I’ve played one of them. I briefly touched on Lego LotR, but they cheaply and jarringly ripped speech straight from the films. I heard once TT Games started using their own voice acting (which presumably is the case here), they started to forge a different style of comedy from the OG silent stuff.

    Anyway, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this bar the Eurogamer review, and they’re my go to. I think, for whatever reason, that makes me want to play it more. It’s also encouraging seeing just how enthusiastic of a recommend you’ve given it too.

    Liked by 2 people

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