As someone who has grown up with Star Wars and LEGO games, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga should be right up my alley… but for some reason I just can’t get into it!
Title: LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Suggested Audience Age: Rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB
Time to Play: 18.5 Hours according to How Long to Beat
Availability: Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Steam, Epic
Recommended for fans of: LEGO, Simple Action Games, Star Wars, maybe The Force Unleashed, and especially folks who are new to LEGO games!
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a game that I should absolutely love. I was born at just the right age to obsess over the rereleases of the Original Trilogy in the '90s without being too old and jaded to hate The Phantom Menace when it launched. The original LEGO Star Wars games were both absolutely favorites of mine when they came out. When they were repackaged as a single game on the next generation of consoles I was right there to play through them again. On top of all that, I love wandering around an open world and collecting shiny things just for the sake of collecting shiny things.
It’s like this game was made to match my exact preferences.
And yet, I keep playing it for an hour or two and then completely forgetting that it exists for days and days before I come back to it.
What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I love this game?!
Setting up the Structure and Gameplay Loop
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga covers the stories of all 9 numbered Star Wars games, broken up into the three different trilogies. Players can start the game at either Episode I, III, or VII. I decided to play through the story from the chronological start of the saga by starting with Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
This was a mistake. If you are looking to pick up this game, don’t make this mistake.
There are three different activities that make up the bulk of the campaign:
- You can fly around space and complete open-world challenges in orbit of planets
- wander around on the surface of planets collecting bits and bobs
- find the starting point of a mission, most of which take place in bespoke environments that are segmented from the open world.
And that's exactly why Episodes I, II, and III weren't the best to start with. Because the specific elements there kind of suck.
The Prequels Did Me Dirty
The problem with starting at the beginning of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is that neither the open-world nor missions of Episode I are very good. They are actually really bland. So bland that they pushed me away from the game pretty hard pretty early.
I’ve always thought of LEGO video games as an evolution of the beat ‘em up genre. They are at their best when they put you in the shoes of a powerful character who uses flashy attacks to obliterate everyone and everything in their path. Vehicular sections have been a part of the LEGO formula for a long time, but have always been an unwelcome break in the action for me.
The first level of the Phantom Menace story starts with you flying the diplomatic ship onto the trade federations ship, then hacking a few droids on the ship before it takes you to an open-world segment on the surface of Naboo…where you find zero enemies. Zero. In an action game.
From there you go to an open-world segment in the Gungan city (again, with no enemies), and then you pilot the Gungan ship to the Naboo capital city, Theed.
As a reward for making it there, you get to explore the open world of Theed. Which is mostly just running to a blue circle that starts the second level, where you walk through a few open-world areas before getting into the pod race.
I played halfway through Episode II in the Prequel Trilogy, and I feel like 80% of my time was spent either running through uninteresting open worlds to hit the next checkpoint or playing vehicle-based levels.
That's part of the gameplay loop, sure. But the Prequel Trilogy just wasn't interesting enough to make it fun.
Fresh Gameplay in the Original Trilogy
I stepped away from LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga for a few days after my less-than-stellar experience with the Prequel Trilogy. When I went back, I decided to shake things up by jumping to A New Hope. Right away my opinion on the game flipped. Not only did I find more levels with interesting on-foot missions and lots of actions, but the open-world segments were also way more engaging than the ones I visited in Episode I.
When R2-D2 runs away in search of Obi-Wan Kenobi, you play as Luke as you explore the Tatooine desert to get to the next mission marker. The path I explored was pretty linear and confined compared to the open worlds of Naboo and Coruscant, but it also seemed way more interesting. I found small things to do along the way, instead of feeling like I was just running through a big open (empty) space.
Could this just be because I’m way more fond of OT Tatooine than I am any individual planet from the Prequel trilogy? Sure, it could be. However, since I also found a lot more variety (and a lot less vehicular stuff) in the levels in the OT, so it seems like maybe the Prequels just didn’t get as much polish as they might have deserved.
Old Storytelling in a New Engine
Once I got into the Original Trilogy, I fell into a pretty good groove with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. I finished off A New Hope in an afternoon, then played through Empire over a few days. I started up Return of the Jedi right after.
That was three weeks ago, and I haven’t gone back to the game sense.
I’ve definitely had a much more fun time with both the open worlds and the individual levels in the Original Trilogy, and I even used a few new characters I unlocked to explore more of the Prequel Trilogy worlds. I was having a good time with the game, and really got in the groove of the classic LEGO “smash everything and then move on” gameplay, but with a few fresh layers that The Skywalker Saga added to keep things interesting.
The issue is that the LEGO games' storytelling has not grown with the gameplay. The jokes are all fine, and since this is fully voice acted they are fresh compared to the ones in the original LEGO Star Wars games. The problem is that between being pretty engrossed in Star Wars and pretty familiar with LEGO games, even brand new jokes feel really, really familiar.
Final Thoughts on LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
I like LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. When I’m sitting there engrossed in the game I actually really, really like it. The gameplay is familiar and fun, the combat has just enough “newness” to it to be interesting, and there are a lot of very fun, very silly jokes in it.
Yet, it somehow all adds up to less than the sum of its parts for me because it all feels just a little too much like what I expected.
Everything about LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga falls somewhere between good and great, but it’s as though the moment I turn off the game, I forget about it entirely. It’s not pulling me in and hooking me the way I wish it was, the way I wanted it to. And I think it’s because I’ve been here too many times before.
So What Does That Mean For You?
Well, it means that this is a good game that you’d probably enjoy a great deal. I mean, if you’ve gotten this far through this article you probably like Star Wars and video games, which means you will like this game because it’s a good Star Wars video game!
But mostly it means that this is a great game for someone who likes Star Wars but has not been playing LEGO games for the past 17 years.
One Last Thing
Remember: you should definitely not start with Episode I. Never, ever, in any situation should you start with Episode I in The Skywalker Saga. Ever.