The Lego Movie Videogame
The Lego Movie focuses on a society dictated by government and big business. Citizens are spoon-fed the same music, television shows, and overpriced beverages. These people gleefully swallow it all up, never once considering alternative options. The thinkers and dreamers who can make a difference in this world, and perhaps teach others how to unlock their individuality, are hunted and silenced by the powers that be. Under this rigid infrastructure of conformity, people’s lives move like clockwork, repeating the same steps every 24 hours.
This formulaic reality is a good home for The Lego Movie Videogame. This experience is built with the same set of instructions used to create over a decade’s worth of Lego games. While the Lego games are skinned differently each time, the act of smashing bricks and scampering to collect all of the loose studs hasn’t changed a bit. Neither has assembly, the search for Red and Gold bricks, or the heavy reliance of using character-specific moves to open up new passages. Developer TT Fusion falls back on the series’ tropes in this entry, and that’s okay. Much like Emmet, the film’s protagonist and the poster boy for obedience, Traveller’s Tales’ classic gameplay formula can surprise you, entertain you, and is periodically capable of amazing things.
To match the visual aesthetic of the film, almost every object in the game is made entirely out of Lego. In past titles, only specific objects were made of bricks; everything else was rendered for realism and as a way to establish a divide between interactive and non-interactive pieces.
This change spotlights the developer’s appreciation and mastery of the 56-year-old interlocking bricks. Almost every building is teeming with unique details that strike a balance between plastic simplicity and architectural wonder. Even the smallest details impress, such as Lego-ized smoke lifting off of Emmet’s feet as he traverses a cloud kingdom. Even with everything being made out of bricks, TT Fusion creates a clear language of what can and can’t be smashed to bits.
All 15 levels are expertly paced and designed, and don’t lean too heavily on using each character’s unique powers to progress (like Lego Marvel Superheroes so frequently did). Repetition is rarely a problem, either. A few stages offer exciting deviations from the standard Lego formula, such as beautifully illustrated freefall sequences and the chance to play as the lumbering pirate Metalbeard – which is every bit as fun as I hoped it would be. Secrets are much easier to track down than the most recent crop of Lego games, especially in the hub world, which is divided up into five moderately sized zones. After completing the game, I managed to get all of the Red Bricks in around an hour, and also unlocked all 90-plus characters in that time.
Character classes once again tap lasers to destroy gold bricks and rockets to level silver, and don’t offer too many surprises outside of Benny, the energetic spaceship builder voiced by Charlie Day from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Benny’s interaction with the world is to hack computers by playing a time-consuming and dull variation of Pac-Man on them. Many of the characters are also “master builders” capable of dismantling three objects and turning their parts into a useful object. There’s no gameplay involved here other than highlighting the three items with a cursor and watching the transformation.
This video game adaptation expands sequences seen in the motion picture, but does a lousy job delivering its story. It plays out more like a selective highlight reel than a flowing narrative. Big, crucial plot points are not included, and while the game supplies hilarious new moments and jokes for many of the characters (especially Vitruvius), the humor and cameo appearances are mostly absent.
Before you even consider playing it, make sure you see the movie. The gameplay stands on its own, but to truly enjoy every facet of this experience, context from the film is needed.
TT Fusion followed instructions to create this game’s foundation, but the art on top of it is the work of master builders. The visuals are a surprising hook in this Lego entry.