Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
“Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has a lot of ambition but lacks focus.”
The free spins mode shines
While previous Lego games were fun puzzle-platformers for beginners, they were also simple games that many players, myself included, grew out of. Developer TT Games seems to have recognized this, because Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the most ambitious Lego game in years.
It retells the stories of nine iconic films, features many pivotal worlds for players to explore and collect items, and deepens combat with its new class systems. This makes it a thoroughly entertaining Lego title for gamers who may have fallen out of love with the series, and an exciting teaser of where this franchise has yet to go.
Unfortunately, it’s also an experience that doesn’t quite grow together. Throughout my adventure, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has always felt torn between a faithful recreation of every Star Wars main film and the liberating galactic sandbox it uniquely aspires to be.
From padawan to knight
When I first started The Skywalker Saga, I was able to choose the first movie of one of the trilogies. I chose to play the game in release order, from A New Hope to The Rise of Skywalker. The introductory level of A New Hope does an amazing job of highlighting how much has improved compared to previous Lego games.
The graphics are great, especially when the levels are made entirely out of Lego bricks. As I mentioned in my preview, the game also enjoys adapting and satirizing the plots of each Star Wars film while deepening the gameplay. The Skywalker saga’s cover-based shooting makes the battles more intense, even if it’s no harder than previous Lego titles.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the new features here. Melee combat was in dire need of a revamp, as players need to string together attack combos and occasionally counter attacks. Each movie’s story is mostly adapted in linear levels, but each planet has at least one large open level for players to explore. These open nodes are all big and full of exciting challenges, easter eggs, and even full blown side quests to discover, and they’re by far the best part of the game.
The Skywalker saga constantly throws new ideas and riffs on already existing ones.
Kyber Bricks are the main motivator for everything to do in The Skywalker Saga. Collecting studs and completing challenges in the linear levels grants Kyber Bricks. They are often the main reward for each planet’s challenges and are needed to improve each class’s abilities.
The more than 300 characters in the Skywalker Saga are part of individual character classes, each with unique abilities in and out of combat. For example, Jedi can use Force powers, droids can hack certain terminals, and heroes can disguise themselves as enemies after defeating them.
The Skywalker saga constantly throws new ideas and riffs onto existing ones, keeping the experience fresh. This approach means that some ideas aren’t fully fleshed out and some character abilities, like a protocol droid’s ability to hack turrets, feel useless. I can forgive that for a game this big, but this design mindset also gives The Skywalker Saga a structure that some may find unnatural.
Heading to The Skywalker Saga, I couldn’t wait to see how TT Games seamlessly integrated the stories of nine Star Wars films into an open-world sandbox. I was disappointed to find out that the game really can’t do that.
The Skywalker saga features many planets and locations that are really fun to explore. Players can even fly over any planet in space. Even so, all nine films tell linear stories, and the game constantly tries to blend the player into the next big thing. I couldn’t set foot on a planet until I visited it during one of the films, meaning The Skywalker Saga’s sandbox felt incomplete throughout my adventure.
The story missions obviously don’t offer the same level of freedom as the open worlds, favoring some character classes and abilities over others. I always felt compelled to continue the story and not stop and smell the roses in every turnstile as I progressed through each movie, so I often didn’t engage in the best part of the game.
The Skywalker saga sandbox felt incomplete throughout my adventure.
This was also unfulfilling as The Skywalker Saga has to rush through each story to include all nine films. Some key moments, like Lando blowing up the Death Star, aren’t playable, but some story levels are entirely original, like the opening level of Empire Strikes Back where players explore Hoth as Han. The developers seemed more interested in creating massive 3D collectible levels than retold those Star Wars stories a second or third time, but the experience suffers when these open-ended levels sometimes directly interfere with the story being told.
This dissonance between the linear film adaptations and the open galaxy sandbox came to a head in Revenge of the Sith. I was watching the cutscene where Order 66 destroys the Jedi, only to appear in Corosaunt’s Jedi Temple Library next to a youth who was eagerly telling me a riddle that would earn me a Kyber Stone.
I guess Anakin didn’t reach him.
The tonal whiplash of that moment was unintentionally hilarious, but it also cemented that the open galaxy and the movie retelling don’t go very well together. There are so many characters, ships, side missions, and set pieces from radically different Star Wars eras that despite the improved gameplay, the experience doesn’t always feel cohesive.
The open galaxy and the movie retellings don’t go very well together.
Completing each movie felt like a tedious requirement for the Free Play mode, where the game doesn’t have to worry about Star Wars canon or certain side quests that don’t make sense in the context of a movie. As a result, the adventure feels unfocused. This high-level dissonance probably won’t bother kids, who will likely spend countless hours playing the game and then exploring the galaxy in Free Play mode, but it was definitely frustrating for me.
TT Games is trying to change the notion of what a Lego game can be. The Skywalker Saga shows that the games can also attract older viewers with deeper gameplay and that these games are at their best when the focus is on giving players a huge sandbox to explore and interact with.
Exploring all of these ideas in The Skywalker Saga ultimately makes the game a chaotic experience. Still, I’m curious to see how the developer could expand on these ideas in an adventure that also doesn’t have to worry about faithfully recreating nine films.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the most immersive Lego game in years thanks to its deeper gameplay and all the faithfully recreated Star Wars locations for players to explore. But like the protagonists of every Star Wars trilogy, The Skywalker Saga has an identity crisis. It always feels somewhere between an accurate retelling of the Star Wars series and an ambitious galactic sandbox where players can go anywhere as anyone.
Is there a better alternative?
Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga is still going strong. It’s a much more linear, level-based experience, but also a more focused gameplay as a result. Still, not much out there can match the scope of what TT Games has included in The Skywalker Saga.
How long it will take?
This is the biggest Lego game to date. It will take over a dozen hours to battle your way through each Star Wars film, and you’ll likely still have a lot to unlock and explore in each level.
should you buy it
Yes. Despite my complaints about the identity crisis facing The Skywalker Saga, it’s worth picking up if you love Star Wars or want to introduce your child to the franchise. It’s a lot of fun to play, especially when you’ve unlocked everything in Freeplay.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has been reviewed on Xbox Series X.