Review: LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

TT Games has done a lot of remarkable work over the past decade-plus. They’ve tackled world-renowned IPs, including Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Marvel and DC Comics, helped LEGO bring their movie titles to life, and even built their own IP with the LEGO City and Dimensions brands. None of that would have been possible without 2005s LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, though. A humorous retelling of Star Wars Episodes I-III, the game blended action, puzzle-solving and platforming into a brightly colored, LEGO-filled package that served as the building block for all future titles. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that TT Games has returned to Star Wars for its most ambitious and formula-shaking LEGO title to date: LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Spanning all nine mainline films and promising hours upon hours of content, is LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga a fun and successful rebuild of the LEGO formula or is this one project not worth constructing?

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga covers the events of the nine-film Skywalker saga. You’ll witness the Republic fall and Empire rise in Episodes I-III, topple the Empire in Episodes IV-VI and finally end the Dark Side’s machinations in Episodes VII-IX. You’ll take control of iconic characters like Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Rey, Finn and BB-8, among many others. It’s a fun romp through the galaxy alongside your favorite characters, as you relive most of the biggest moments across all nine films.

Like previous LEGO games, players shouldn’t expect a 1:1 recreation of the films or their plots. While each episode captures the general ideas and plot points, each story is truncated to fit within a 1–2-hour scope. While each episode only has five levels, TT Games does a good job filling the space between missions with enough story content to make each story understandable. While it’s disappointing that darker moments like Order 66’s Operation Knightfall are entirely missing, the stories generally do a good job at adapting all nine plots.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a LEGO game without plenty of added humor. While the darker moments of each film are missing, in its place are plenty of scenes filled with laughter. You’ll witness Obi-Wan and Anakin crash a retirement party, Stormtroopers get too comfy on Tantive IV, and Rey and Kylo Ren ruin dinner preparations onboard the Supremacy. There are a lot of great small moments like these that brighten up each episode.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’s story has a lot for every type of Star Wars fan, but it does have its limitations. As mentioned before, TT Games drastically trims down or outright cuts important story beats such as Order 66, the destruction of Alderaan and Luke’s Episode VIII negativity. While such omissions are understandable to keep the tone kid-friendly, they create head-scratching moments within their respective stories. Despite a few original actors returning alongside some Clone Wars veterans, voice acting is a major issue. Outside the likes of Billy Dee Williams, Sam Witwer and James Arnold Taylor, among some other Star Wars veterans, the rest of the cast is either hit or miss, with Qui-Gon Jinn and Kylo Ren in particular sounding nothing like Liam Neeson or Adam Driver. For a franchise that’s cultivated such great casts in live-action and animation, it’s hard not to notice and be taken out of the experience.

What TT Games have managed to achieve is incredible, even with issues. The fact that all nine mainline Star Wars films are playable, even in an abridged form, is mighty impressive. It’s also a lengthy experience that gives players the flexibility to play through the stories how they want. Each episode will take about 1-2 hours, depending on whether you focus on rushing through the plot or take the time to explore and hunt for extras. Upon booting up the game, you’ll get the chance to start at any trilogy with The Phantom Menace, A New Hope and The Force Awakens unlocked from the get-go. Want to go chronological? Prefer the hatchet order? Want to skip to the end of the saga? The choice is all yours.

Like previous LEGO games, each episode is split into five distinct levels that run players through crucial moments from the film. For example, you’ll battle Jango Fett in the Petranaki Arena in Attack of the Clones, duel Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi and trick Kylo Ren into fighting an apparition in The Last Jedi. Inside these scripted missions, you’ll collect LEGO minikits to unlock new vehicles and LEGO studs to purchase additional characters. It’s a familiar formula, but the excellent pacing of each level ensures everything moves quickly.

Outside of the scripted missions, players will explore the Star Wars galaxy to advance the plot, take in the sights and uncover plenty of secrets. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga isn’t just the largest LEGO game because of the story, but because of its open world. Every planet visited across all nine films is beautifully brought to life and is freely explorable on foot or in space. You can visit iconic locations, replay story missions with additional characters to unlock every last secret, or explore planets completing side quests, uncovering Kyber Bricks, or chatting with locals. While you can quickly speed through the campaign, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is nearly a bottomless pit of fun content to play through, though it’s unfortunate that you still can’t play with a friend online. Couch co-op is still a blast, but it’s about time LEGO games start offering online co-op.

TT Games’ ambitions for LEGO run deeper than building out all nine films and their locations in LEGO form. For over a decade, the gameplay of LEGO games has remained somewhat stagnant. For example, characters always had four hearts for health, and players either bashed a button for melee attacks or to fire randomly with blaster characters. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga changes that dynamic, providing a more modern and cinematic take on the LEGO formula while maintaining accessibility for all ages.

Ranged combat now acts like a traditional third-person shooter allowing players to ADS over their character’s shoulder and take cover behind particular walls. Taking cover is too sticky, but the shooting mechanics are top-notch, making ranged characters much more enjoyable to play with than in previous LEGO games. Melee, too, has been overhauled with a simple but elegant combo system that rewards players for building up a combo chain. Melee’s improvements, however, are best utilized in lightsaber duels that pull the camera in close for cinematic duels that are equal parts blocking, dodging and attacking. Punishing Dark Souls bosses these are not, but the additional flair and mechanics make dueling the likes of General Grievous and Darth Sidious exciting affairs. Finally, space combat has been beefed up, giving players complete control over their favorite Star Wars ships. Flying isn’t mechanically difficult, but it offers a fun experience that’s not at all frustrating to control and matches the thrill and flair of the other mechanics.

RPG mechanics also make their way into the game in the forms of classes and upgrading. Characters are now split into different classes with unique capabilities. Jedi and Dark Side users can use the Force to manipulate objects in the environment. Scoundrels use their senses to detect objects that can be destroyed. Heroes can utilize armor pieces to disguise themselves. Meanwhile, Villains can access terminals to acquire powerful weapons. Each of the classes can be upgraded with Kyber Bricks to increase the effectiveness of their abilities. The classes are neat and give each of the 300+ playable characters a chance to stand out from their peers. If you want to collect everything in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, finding your favorite characters in each class is a necessity. Lightsabers are cool, but with the new abilities afforded to the different classes and the third-person shooter mechanics, there’s now an excellent reason to pick up a blaster.

LEGO games have always punched above their weight in the presentation department. TT Games has always done an excellent job mixing photo-realistic environments with the colorful plastic of LEGO bricks. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is no different, blending the cartoonish look of LEGO with the awe-inspiring locations of Star Wars. Whether it’s Cloud City in the skies or Gunga City below the seas, TT Games beautifully brings these locations to life with a mix of detailed shaders, clever use of photo-realistic models and textures and LEGO building pieces, and a level of destructibility only LEGO can provide. It’s a LEGO game, but its presentation is jaw-dropping nonetheless.

Closing Comments:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a studio set out to make a fun romp through Episodes I-III. Not only did they succeed, but they started a franchise that grew stronger with each entry. Now that they’ve come full circle back to LEGO Star Wars, we can fully see how much they’ve learned in the years since. It turns out TT Games has learned more than enough to build the biggest and greatest LEGO game yet. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a triumphant reinvention of the LEGO series, successfully adapting the entirety of the mainline Star Wars films, building out a galaxy filled with activities to pursue and reinventing gameplay mechanics for a new generation. There are growing pains with a handful of the gameplay mechanics, online co-op remains stubbornly absent and the voice acting is less than ideal for an IP with such an iconic cast. These are tiny blips in what is the finest LEGO game yet, however, and a beautiful recreation of George Lucas’ vision. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga successfully brings that galaxy far, far away to life in an exciting new way.