Review – Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
This is no ruse. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was my most anticipated game of 2022. Yep, more than Ghostwire: Tokyo, more than Elden Ring, more than the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge. Ever since taking a look at it during E3 2019 (now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time), I knew this was shaping up to become something special, the be-all and end-all of both Lego and modern Star Wars games. I knew I was putting an ungodly amount of pressure on a Lego game, but I legit did not care.
After countless delays and some controversial revelations in the meantime, mostly regarding TT Games’ work culture, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is finally out. Oddly enough, in a time where Star Wars isn’t everyone’s cup of tea anymore. You can thank The Rise of Skywalker, The Book of Boba Fett, and an ever increasing saturation of the franchise to levels not even George Lucas ever dared to reach, for that. It’s almost as if Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga arrived to reignite the nostalgic feelings towards Star Wars in the hearts of us annoyed fans. And boy, did it succeed.
The Lego formula had barely changed ever since the release of the original Lego Star Wars back in the PS2 era. We’d get a series of fun levels comprised of puzzle-solving and platforming sections, combined with the occasional mini open world to explore in the post-game, where you would be able to collect characters and replay older levels with them, in order to unlock new pathways and collect more MacGuffins. Don’t get me wrong, it worked wonders, with Lego Marvel Super Heroes being the pinnacle of the series, but we needed something new. We needed to shake things up a bit.
The funny thing about Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is that, in theory, not a lot has changed. This is still a 3D platformer comprised of a series of small linear levels interconnected by an open world where you can explore on the side in order to acquire more characters and items. The difference lies on the execution of the formula, as well as the scope of the game. This is to Lego what Super Mario Odyssey was to Super Mario 64. It’s all about expanding the scope of the series to previously unknown degrees. I’m not talking only about the amount of collectibles (although the number of things to collect is ludicrous), but also graphics, gameplay, polish… the list goes on and on.
At first, you only have access to three out of nine Star Wars episodes included in this game, the first episode to each of the three trilogies. Logically, I started out with The Phantom Menace. It took me seconds to notice some massive changes to the gameplay. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga intelligently starts out with you piloting a ship in space, in order to showcase one of the main new additions to the franchise’s formula: free roaming space exploration. It feels like a cheap Rogue Squadron knockoff at times, and we really didn’t need an acceleration button when flying in space (inertia, anyone?), but it is a really amazing addition nonetheless, especially if you find yourself in the middle of a randomly generated space skirmish.
Upon landing inside the Trade Federation battleship, I also noticed the improvements on the overall third person controls. The camera is free-roaming and located closer to your character’s back, akin to a more traditional third-person action-adventure. It’s a bit clunky at times, though, especially whenever you’re exploring a more cramped area, or if you find yourself stuck near a wall. With that being said, it’s something you can get used to after a while.
The combat has received some massive improvements. For the first time since, well, forever, a Lego game actually features fun combat! Jedi Knights and Sith Lords are able to perform various combos with their lightsabers. Stormtroopers are actually able to wield different weapons with different stats. There is even a brand new cover shooting system, with a simple, but really effective “LT+RT” combat system. It feels like a really simplistic third-person shooter whenever you press the left trigger, but the sole fact a Lego game of all damn things features this is already worth celebrating. It’s competent enough to the point that you’re able to one-shot a soldier if you shoot him/her on the head, for instance.
Each Star Wars episode is comprised of only five main levels, as well as a few extra linear sections set in the overworld. The overall quality of each level honestly depends in which episode you’re playing. The vast majority of “main levels” in The Phantom Menace, for instance, where vehicular, for there were few set pieces in that movie which did not feature a ship, submarine or podracer in it. On the other hand, most levels in A New Hope felt more like your standard Lego platforming schtick, with only the last level (the Death Star) being vehicular. There’s even a level that encourages you to use stealth mechanics. Yes, you read that right: stealth. In a Lego game. What a time to be alive!
In theory, yes, it’s much shorter than your average Lego campaign. That being said, let me remind you that Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga features all nine main episodes, resulting in a main campaign comprised of forty-five levels, as well as the aforementioned tidbits in between them. That accounts for a good fifteen hours or so, not including replaying each level with no character limitations in Free Play, which isn’t bad per se, but that’s just a small fraction of what this game has to offer. Free exploration is the star of the show.
Older Lego games featured open worlds, but with the exception of Lego Marvel‘s Manhattan, they have never been that much fun to explore. They felt empty, somewhat boring, unfinished. That’s not the case in Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. The open world exploration is clearly where the majority of the effort has been put into, to the point of feeling like a Lego-ish Super Mario Odyssey. Each level is huge, full of characters to unlock, studs to collect, and most importantly, Kyber Blocks to acquire.
Blocks are to Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga what Moons were in Mario Odyssey. They’re your main MacGuffin. The difference is that instead of being used to unlock new levels, they are used to unlock new skills in a massive skill tree available whenever you press the Back/Select button. Not only can you upgrade your character’s health, or the amount of damage dealt by your ship’s lasers, but you can also upgrade each of the character classes featured in this game. They range from Jedi and Sith Knights, to Astromech Droids, Scoundrels and Bounty Hunters. Each class has its own pros and cons, as well as specific abilities you can use to complete levels or solve overworld puzzles. Your standard Lego stuff.
Sure, the overall gameplay is great, but that’s just half of the appeal of a Lego game. The presentation is the other half. You may be wondering if there’s even a way to make a Lego game look better than any of the other dozens of Lego games released over the past decade and a half, since they have never managed to look that much better than the original Lego Star Wars, but The Skywalker Saga begs to differ. Animations are crisp, characters are charming, and levels are huge and detailed. There are even some impressive lighting effects, especially during spaceship battles. All running at a crisp framerate, to top things off nicely.
The sound department is excellent, as expected. First of all, there’s the soundtrack. It’s a Star Wars soundtrack. Duh. Of course it’s great. It features every single freaking song ever included in any of the nine movies, so the odds of your favorite Star Wars banger being included in this game are basically 100%. All sound effects came straight from the movies as well, so TIE Fighters sound like they should, lightsabers go “whomp” just like you remember, and so on.
The voice acting is, for the most part, pretty good as well. With the exception of maybe one or two characters (I swear I can do a better Jar Jar impersonation than the guy they hired for this game), everyone does a great job in here. I was shocked when I saw the vast amount of actors reprising their movie roles in this game. Anthony Daniels, as expected, voices C-3PO, Billy Dee Williams returns as Lando, Brian Blessed is Boss Nass, Sam Witwer portrays Darth Maul, and so on. A good chunk of the Clone Wars cast also returns. I have very little to complain about their charming deliveries, they made me smile throughout the entire game.
I also need to point out how funny Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is. The amount of puns in this game is astronomical, and I loved how dumb they were. The pop culture nods, from Karen jokes to a Spartacus easter egg, were just brilliant. I never thought I’d ever play a Star Wars game referencing South Park, Coolio, and Breaking Bad, but here we are. I also have to give kudos to whoever designed the one mission where you’re told to investigate who was the one inside the Cantina who actually shot first.
A few annoying issues here and there may tarnish its overall quality a little bit, but boy, did Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga deliver. I was expecting for it to be great, but wasn’t expecting for it to basically rival Super Mario Odyssey in terms of charm and amount of collectibles. This game is more than just a love letter to Lego and Star Wars fans; this is one of the best 3D platformers / collectathons released in years, a true blessing for hardcore completionists, and basically one of the most adorable games you can buy right now.
Not the most detailed graphical style you’ve seen recently, but easily the prettiest a Lego game has ever looked. Animations are crisp, characters are charming, and levels are huge and detailed.
Gone is the old, fixed-camera Lego gameplay style. The brand new exploratory control scheme is much more responsive, and the combat has received a stupendous upgrade in terms of complexity. Camera issues and occasionally confusing vehicular controls bog the experience down a bit.
Great voice acting, as to be expected from a Lego game (although one or two characters don’t sound that funny), coupled with licensed Star Wars music. Of course it’s great. Duh.
Even though its main campaign is a bit “short” (it’s still a good fifteen hours long), the sheer amount of stuff to do on the side rivals games like Super Mario Odyssey. And the pun game is strong with this one.
Final Verdict: 9.0
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Xbox Series S.
A copy of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was provided by the publisher.