Between trips to Gotham City and galaxies far, far away, LEGO games don’t often have the chance to actually do what LEGO does best: bring out your creative side by stacking a pile of plastic bricks together. LEGO Bricktales fills that gap with a unique spin on the puzzle genre.
The game tasks you with building solutions to a range of head-scratchers using whatever bricks you have at hand. While some of the controls may be fiddly – especially on console – Bricktales is an intelligent spin on the genre and a lovely little package.
LEGO Bricktales starts with a visit to your dear old grandad who runs a zoo with a secret laboratory underneath it, because, of course he does. A series of tutorial-shaped mishaps means he needs your help building basic structures to get out of the lab, but that’s just the start of your troubles. It turns out his beloved zoo is in danger of being closed down since he sort of, maybe, forgot to take care of it a little. Oops.
Your task is going through a series of portals to the park’s far-flung locations, including a jungle and desert, to clean up grandad’s mess and keep the park from closing. Traveler’s Tales might not be in charge of this adventure, but in typical LEGO fashion, charm and zaniness characterize the story.
No one questions why your grandfather, the zookeeper, is experimenting with portals that defy the logic of time and space or why everyone else seems to forget how to build things and desperately needs you to do it for them. The tone is perfect for the kind of light puzzle-builder Bricktales is, even if the writing suffers from inconsistency at times, swapping between silly, lighthearted chatter and oddly stiff exposition.
Each portal takes you to a themed biome that functions like a mini-open world. Puzzles lie scattered about, waiting for you to piece together solutions, and whatever creation you come up with becomes part of the landscape. Want to make a wonky staircase instead of a straightforward ladder? Boom, you’ve permanently left your mark on the world.
Most of the worlds and even your efforts in them are just there for decoration or to lend themselves to setting up puzzles, and that’s absolutely fine. Bricktales isn’t trying to be a grand puzzle adventure. Just bear that in mind if you go in expecting something else.
The puzzles themselves are a clever and varied lot that sits halfway between Scribblenauts and something like Bridge Building Simulator. Most of the early challenges gently lead you to the right solution. Build a walkway to transport a robot. Make a ramp. Fathom a staircase and bring it to life.
These kinds of puzzles also pop up later, but they’re mixed with a different, more open-ended kind where you have to use the available bricks to bring your imagination to life and solve a bigger problem. Or it might be more accurate to say, “bring your imagination to life within reason,” since your creations all have to pass a use test.
It’s all fun and creatively proportioned helicopters until it won’t actually fly and someone gets hurt. Puzzle games like these can easily misstep and be frustrating if they’re too precise or the physics aren’t quite right, but LEGO Bricktales rarely deals with this issue. There’s a level of generosity that means steps that should technically be a smidgeon too high will work anyway, and it helps create a more relaxed mood that makes getting absorbed in creating much easier and more enjoyable.
At least, that’s what it does on PC. On console, I imagine the controls are probably a bit of a nightmare. LEGO Bricktales doesn’t require precision placement, but the mouse can be overly sensitive even on PC. The camera can also be a bit cumbersome to navigate along with some of the other commands, though you gradually grow used to Bricktales’ quirks.
Lego Bricktales Review — The Bottom Line
- A wide range of well-designed puzzles.
- Mostly gentle difficulty curve.
- Best use of the LEGO concept to date.
- Biomes feel a bit empty.
- Awkward controls.
LEGO Bricktales is a delightful surprise, even with its fiddly controls. Pairing puzzles with LEGOs seems like such a natural thing to do; I’m surprised it took this long to see it happen. And I sincerely hope it’s not the last such puzzle game from Thunderful.
[Note: Thunderful provided the copy of LEGO Bricktales used for this review.]