LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a massive game, with nearly 400 playable characters, nine movies to travel through, and more puns, jokes, and sight gags than Jar Jar Binks. Developer TT Games has been making Lego games for a long time, and this ambitious project shows this studio at the top of its game, delivering brick-breaking fun and surprisingly absurd Star Wars humor from start to finish. The sheer scale of the project seems too broad for TT Games to exploit, taking advantage of small moments, as some of the content is uncharacteristically dull or uneven.
The perfect example of this experience bouncing between high and low occurs on the planet Ahch-To, where Luke Skywalker retreats to lock himself in the Force. the last jedic, In this desolate location, TT Games throws in a silly Porg joke wherever possible, and hilariously mocks Luke Skywalker to the point that he hums his theme song as he tries to ignore Rey. We also learn that Luke has embarked on a massive expedition to harvest green milk from this island’s space walrus. All of this material twists the lore of Star Wars in delightful ways, but its journey is often a slog, prompting the player to do little more than run great distances from point to point. Along the way, there’s little to see or do, and some of the variations that pop up on Ach-Two either lack creativity or complexity within the game’s reasonable levels. The bulk of the side content, which is a big part of the experience, mostly comes up short, despite offering great rewards like more playable characters.
For the first time in a Lego Star Wars game, the galaxy can be freely explored when the planets are unlocked by completing episodes. The cast of TT Games did a phenomenal job of recreating these planets; Each is filled with life, vivid details and plenty of fan service. Tatooine’s sprawling Mos Eisley spaceport is densely packed with aliens and vehicles and feels isolated from a desolate place like Hoth. All of these locations combine realistic backgrounds with clever brick creations that players can interact with. The atmosphere and lighting found in many of these places are particularly impressive. The haze that accompanies Leia’s meeting with R2-D2 on the Tentative IV looks spectacular, and small details like the vibrant glow of the lightsaber reflecting off the surfaces—including the character’s plastic head—are another nice touch.
The Skywalker Saga is at its best within the condensed, story-focused levels, which harken back to earlier designs in this series. Hunting for minikits and kyber blocks is fun, often prompting the player (or couch co-op pair) to solve puzzles or break objects to reveal new paths. These stages are worth replaying when more character classes (such as Sith) are unlocked. Some minigames are overused, such as R2’s Terminal Hacking, but the spur-of-the-moment gameplay flow in these levels is smooth and delivers fewer obstacles than other LEGO Star Wars titles. On the note of hacking the R2, you can earn an upgrade later that allows you to pay to bypass them.
Strong focus is applied to combat, including all-new lighting technology and cover-based shooting – both subjects work pleasantly. Neither offers much depth, but their simplicity works for the conflicts that stormtroopers quickly collapse. Carefully placed headshots set their helmets off, and yes, you can wear them! The Jedi can also use the Force to throw objects at enemies through their sabers. These mechanics are drawn into boss battles and prompt the player to stitch in aggressive maneuvers to dodge attacks such as Darth Maul’s rage-filled charge. Even unlikely characters like BB-8 or C-3PO are capable of combat and are fun to control.
Some stages offer vehicular games to bring to life the intense space battles of Star Wars. I had an explosion of the X-wing in the Death Star abyss and the Millennium Falcon in the asteroid field. Most of these conflicts lack difficulty, yet provide plenty of excitement when chaotic storms of TIE fighters surround your ship. Along with the characters, there are tons of ships to unlock.
A constant pleasure in The Skywalker Saga is the effort to unlock all the characters. Considering how big the adventure is, it’s a dizzying proposition, but thankfully, when you’re looking for the specific character you want, you won’t feel like you’re digging a needle in a haystack. You can exchange well-earned studs for clues that lead to character locations and unlocking requirements. Studs can also be spent to increase skills and unlock new abilities for different character classes. I love the new depth that TT Games has applied to the tried-and-tested Lego formula.
Despite being uneven from time to time, the Skywalker Saga is a thorough and fun examination of all three Star Wars movie trilogies. It provides the same feeling of being overwhelmed as opening a Blu-ray collection of movies and not knowing what to start with. The player can jump between trilogies and at any time move out of the way of the story to explore a far, faraway galaxy. Some quests can be as monotonous as sand, but others can deliver something great, like Babu Frick as a playable character or seeing what Kylo Ren’s bedroom looks like.