Game: LEGO Builder’s Journey
Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam & Apple Arcade)
Developers | Publishers: Light Brick Studio | LEGO System, Fortyseven PR
Age Rating: US E | EU 3+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £17.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: June 22nd, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to Fortyseven PR
LEGO Builder’s Journey is the first game to be created by a new studio set up in-house at the LEGO Group called Light Brick Studio. I used to play with LEGO when I was a child and still play with LEGO with my grandkids. So when I saw a LEGO puzzle game was being released for the Switch I knew I had to try it out.
LEGO Builder’s Journey begins with a simple isometric island of LEGO bricks. There are a few indications as to what you need to do, which I really like. Of course, if you are faced with a pile of LEGO bricks, the way you can proceed is by experimenting with said bricks.
Pressing the A button on a brick picks it up, tapping A rotates it and long-press on the A button will click it into place, simple. The digital bricks act in the same way as physical ones, they actually sound much like the real bricks too. They can only be connected to studded surfaces as per normal LEGO bricks.
Reunite the Pals
To solve the actual puzzle you have to reunite the two LEGO buddies. As you can see from the pictures there is an absence of LEGO’s iconic mini-figures. The characters are instead represented by a minimalist stack of blocks.
They suit the style of this puzzle game perfectly and they show emotion through their posture and movement. One buddy is on one side of the puzzle and you must make a path across the puzzle to the other LEGO buddy using the bricks supplied. Once you complete the path and the buddies are reunited you move on to the next puzzle.
The LEGO buddy you have to move across can only move on to jumper plates, little one stud yellow jumper plates. You can’t move them onto normal LEGO bricks, so that makes it slightly more difficult to solve the puzzles. Oh and you only have a very limited number of LEGO bricks to use to create a path, best get your thinking cap on then.
You might be surprised to read that there is a story being told as you play through the puzzles. A wordless story, one you will understand by completing each puzzle and watching the movement of the two buddies.
The story as I see it goes like this. The larger LEGO buddy is like an older brother who is teaching the smaller LEGO bother, and you, the ins and outs of building. How to be imaginative and creative with the bricks. Later, the older brother is forced to leave the smaller brother behind after being called off to perform what amounts to meaningless, thankless work as you and the smaller brother set out on their own adventure.
The puzzles are varied in what is required of you to solve them. Some puzzles require outside-the-box thinking, sometimes they require level-specific gimmicks. Other times they require hunting for hidden bricks to use. But the puzzles never get unreasonably hard and I didn’t feel frustrated any time if I was stumped for a while.
Often, the game lets you come up with your own solution instead of forcing you towards a specific answer. I like that as it leaves you free to play around and solve the puzzle how you want. Not necessarily how it’s meant to be solved. This is a perfect design choice that fits in so well with both the game’s underlying message of creativity and the creativity behind LEGO bricks themselves.
Visuals, Controls and More
Visually the game is impressive, it is LEGO bricks after all and I didn’t expect it to look as well as it does. They do really represent the real bricks. As I’ve mentioned the bricks even sound like LEGO bricks when they hit off one another. As you move through the puzzles, the environments change. The lighting and special effects in the game add to it and set the scenes in the puzzle along with the soothing soundtrack.
Controlled by the joy-cons, you use the left stick to direct the bricks into place and the A button does the rest. The controls are simple and easy to remember. Whereas I do have a niggle about the camera, you can move it slightly left or right but it is fixed. Also, you can’t zoom in on the puzzle to get a closer look. For most of the puzzles, it is fine that you cant zoom in, but for some I found the camera view to be awkward. Plus, wouldn’t you want to zoom in and be able to appreciate the puzzle in more detail.
LEGO Builder’s Journey is a well thought out puzzle game, with a wonderful art style. It is an absolute delight to play. It is aimed at all fans of LEGO but it has a really grown up puzzle feel to it too. I hope we see more of this style of game from the LEGO brand in future. Also with the LEGO in the game and not all over the floor (no, I didn’t do that as a child) you can’t step on those Lego pieces and leave a brick imprint on your foot.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up