Lego Worlds is an interesting hybrid of a game. Departing from the traditional adventure-platformer style of previous Lego games, Lego Worlds is more of a creation game in the mold of Minecraft than a comical retelling of another franchise’s story. With a significant shakeup like this, though, the results are as mixed as an unopened bag of Legos from a new construction kit.
The bulk of this review is going to focus on gameplay. Admittedly, that isn’t exactly bizarre for a video game review, but as far as graphics go, you’d be hard pressed to find any real difference between the graphics of this or any other Lego game. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. I mean, there are only so many ways you can render a 2×3 red brick or a Lego figure, after all, so while the graphics aren’t anything special, they aren’t bad by any stretch either. Although I did run into a technical issue where the game had difficulty loading chunks of some levels, otherwise, the visuals are exactly what you’d expect, which is serviceably the same as every other Lego game that came before.
The sound was a bit disappointing in its near absence. There’s almost no background music to speak of, and the sound effects are basic with many identical to those from previous Lego games. I don’t have very much criticism for the sound design, though, because the silence works for the experience of the game and the absence of any real music makes audio queues and notification chimes much more prominent when the game alerts you to an accomplishment. The disappointment, for me at least, comes from how incredibly catchy the main theme song was, leaving me wishing for background music just as catchy and fun. While there’s no character voice acting in this Lego outing, there is an amazing narrator, so I would say that the absence of the hilarious performances from the last few Lego games is balanced out.
Now, while the game isn’t an adventure game in the same mold as say, Lego Harry Potter or Lego Avengers, there is still an adventure mode. Really, though, this serves as a very long, elaborate, and well-narrated tutorial more than anything else. The main focus of Lego Worlds is construction, and there’s no shortage of tools at your disposal with which you can build. While you have to earn each one, eventually in your backpack you’ll find a landscaping tool, a copy tool, a building tool, a painting tool, and a discovery tool that allows you to scan and acquire various characters, creatures, and structures using the classic Lego game currency of studs. Because each tool is acquired after a number of side quests and time spent exploring various different worlds within your Lego galaxy, you have time to get comfortable using each one before another is bestowed upon you. Many of the side quests even require you to use your newfound tool and your knowledge of it to complete the quest. While these quests very much hold your hand through their completion, they’re nevertheless engaging ways to encourage players to pay attention to the tutorial. While such a process could normally be frowned upon, the build-based gameplay of Lego Worlds is a bit complex so I think the developer made a good call here.
Along the way you’ll come across various gadgets you can use, from something as basic as a camera to something as fun as a jet pack or grapple gun. There are quite a few weapons you can collect as well, but there’s not really any combat to speak of aside from button-mash-attacking a few enemies you might encounter for an occasional side quest. This might sound bad, but the Lego games have never been famous for their combat complexity, so it isn’t a huge loss, really.
As you progress through the adventure, landing on various Lego worlds that you can shape and customize to your liking, eventually you’ll be able to use all of the things you’ve unlocked to start building your own worlds…or you can just skip right to the sandbox mode and have access to everything right from the start. Either or. Regardless of which mode you choose, the in-game construction is the real star of the show here…however I feel like it will be a very polarizing star.
The obvious comparison to Minecraft is warranted, and it isn’t something from which I’ll shy away. Simply put, building a world in Lego felt more tedious and less intuitive than it did in Minecraft. To its blocky credit, understanding where blocks will be placed and moving them around in Minecraft is very easy to learn and understand very quickly. While the methods for building things in Minecraft are somewhat more time-consuming and certainly more direct (physically going to a location and placing a block), there is a certain satisfying sense of engagement that comes along with them. Lego Worlds, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite.
Lego Worlds offers you no shortage of ways to create any Lego construction you can imagine. You can place any brick anywhere you want, change its color, duplicate it, raise it, lower it, reshape the land, copy entire structures, and do even more than what I have listed there. Essentially, Lego Worlds gives you an unlimited number of every Lego brick you could ever imagine and gives you rather precise tools you can use to create whatever you heart desires. Unfortunately, using the tools felt extremely tedious. Because the game allows you to change a brick’s elevation, or the size of an area that will be raised or lowered or deleted, both the left analog stick and the directional pad are used for different functions at all times. This meant that if you wanted the precision of say, one press on a D-pad to increase or decrease something by one measurement, you can’t, because the analog stick is used for that and its incredibly inconsistent. Just trying to landscape or paint a Lego brick felt like an exercise in frustration for me and made me wonder why the controls weren’t smoothed out and remapped to use the left and right triggers for, say, scale and precision respectively. I just have to believe there are more efficient, and dare I say fun, ways to play with virtual Legos than the methods presented in Lego Worlds.
While the longevity shows tremendous promise in that you are only limited in what you can create by your imagination (and the unwieldy controls, but I digress), there is only two-player multiplayer with an invited friend only, and as of this review’s writing, no way to share your creations with other players on Xbox Live. This may be different on PC, but is likely to be absent on the PlayStation Network as well.
All things considered, I’d honestly rather have a box full of Legos to play with than the limitless quantity of bricks offered by Lego Worlds. Snapping Legos together by hand is not only more satisfying, but it’s a lot quicker, too, even if sometimes you have to use a brown one because you ran out of greens. Of course, after enough practice you can train yourself to use the controls almost as quickly and efficiently as your own two hands, and having literally unlimited virtual bricks is an awfully nice prospect for kids…or those who are kids at heart.
Traveller’s Tales has said that world-sharing is set to be added to the game with an update sometime in the future. Once that gets added, you can bump this score up a point, but until that day comes, Lego Worlds is still a very good, comparatively affordable way to give the gift of unlimited bricks to any Lego aficionado in your life.