Rebuilding imagination: a review of ‘LEGO Builder’s Journey’
How do you take one of the world’s most renowned plastic toys whose fundamental design enables a limitless possibility of creativity and play, and integrate it into an engaging virtual story for all ages? The basic LEGO brick is a timeless classic universally recognised by everyone, but the use of the company’s IP in the gaming industry has stagnated since it was first brought onto the scene in 1995 with LEGO Fun to Build. The most notable format used by LEGO games is that of the action-adventure puzzler. Developer Traveler’s Tales used this genre to release plenty of successful LEGO games set in the universes of some of the most beloved ‘family-friendly’ franchises (including Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter and many more). Most of us have many nostalgic memories of playing these LEGO games as kids, especially with regard to the shenanigans of the Mos Eisley Cantina. I was initially convinced that these titles would be the peak of LEGO and its take on the gaming world. That was until Light Brick Studio dropped a surprising new indie game using the popular brick.
Unlike past games using the company IP, Builder’s Journey features LEGO elements in one of the best ways in its story
Light Brick Studio’s LEGO Builder’s Journey is an adventure indie title comprising simple yet creative puzzles using a plethora of bricks from LEGO’s catalogue. Unlike past games using the company IP, Builder’s Journey features LEGO elements in one of the best ways in its story. At face value, the narrative follows what seems to be a father and son, imaginatively comprised of simple 1×1 elements stacked upon one another, with their design and colour giving personality to the characters. Additionally, everything in the world only uses rendered LEGO elements, including environments like flowing rivers and terrain. These features not typically seen in other LEGO titles set an authentic scene throughout the story, giving the player full immersion into a breathtaking world as they freebuild their own models and solve puzzles to progress forward in each level.
The atmosphere emitted from the natural (yet bricky) environment is accompanied by a graceful and beautiful soundtrack composed by Henrick Lindstrand. Chosen for his style of composition, Lindstrand’s first expedition into gaming composition is authentic and rewarding. His music accentuates the calm and therapeutic aesthetic the game is going for. These different components combine to create an experience that touches the player’s soul, especially for those who have happy memories of playing LEGO games. Lindstrand mentions that: “It’s a story about the importance of remembering to play in your life, even as a grown up; remembering to play and remembering to play with your kids.” Throughout my playthrough, these words put forward by Lindstrand rang true. In essence, this game reminds us to play in our life no matter our age or the experiences we have, as it is something that hasn’t been explored as well in previous LEGO titles.
Although the game is compact and complete with the authentic LEGO experience, it doesn’t have much to offer outside of its basic puzzles
The story features no dialogue but uses its LEGO elements in conjunction with visuals to tell an endearing tale of adventure and heart. This simplicity allows anyone to pick the game up at any point and pause it as they please. Each level is made distinct by instantaneous changes in environment, colours and mechanics with its bricks providing a fresh experience every time.
Although the game is compact and complete with the authentic LEGO experience, it doesn’t have much to offer outside of its basic puzzles. Its Creative Mode leaves much to be desired as it’s too simple to allow for the design of a story-quality level. This is because the editor is limited to changing the colours of bricks, as well as having access to a limited number of resources and environmental changes. With roughly three hours in total to complete the full story it’s a quick and humble experience for all, leaving the player wishing there were more levels to keep playing.
Given everything, Light Brick Studio gives an impressive display of the LEGO IP by taking advantage of the limitless creativity of the company’s elements and capabilities of the brick, collapsing all the enjoyment one typically has when playing with LEGO into the game. Builder’s Journey is an artistic medium that reimagines the concept of play and creativity, opening up new ways for developers in the future to explore the use of the LEGO IP in the gaming world.