This reviewer has received a few sideways glances over the past few years when declaring that LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is his most anticipated game, but to be fair, it makes total sense if you're a Star Wars fan. Not only have the LEGO Star Wars games proved consistently entertaining since the first one launched in 2005, but The Skywalker Saga is one of the most ambitious Star Wars games of all time, promising a ground-up recreation of all nine films, a sprawling open universe, the ability to play with well over 300 characters, and a whole lot more. It's the only game to ever include all nine movies in one package, and that alone is cause for excitement.
If you've played the LEGO Star Wars games before, you'll pretty much know what to expect here, although the formula has also changed in certain ways. You play through each of the nine movies by progressing through levels in which you fight off enemies, complete basic puzzles and smash up a whole bunch of objects in order to collect Studs - the game's primary form of currency - along the way. The levels are highly enjoyable and well-designed for the most part, allowing to you take part in most of the key parts of the saga, from podracing in the Boonta Eve Classic to blasting your way through Starkiller Base, and of course engaging in a variety of memorable lightsaber battles with the likes of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader and others. You might be disappointed with the bits of the films it glosses over (it does rush things at times) but in general we're happy with the mission choices in each movie.
The gameplay is basically a mashup of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga and LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while also adding in a few new elements of its own. Innovations from The Force Awakens game like the ability to take cover and engage in over-the-shoulder shooting have made their way into The Skywalker Saga, but the new game takes things one step further by allowing you to put together combos in order to activate a Studs multiplier, and overhauls saber duels so you can more effectively dodge attacks and even throw your lightsaber at enemies. Everything about the gameplay feels really good, and when you combine it with the game's new lower-down and close-up camera, the whole thing results in a familiar yet refreshing feel.
The Skywalker Saga again has more in common with The Force Awakens game in terms of how the story progresses than The Complete Saga, but on a grander scale. Instead of just going from level-to-level in a linear fashion, the game splits each movie into five main missions, and the rest of the story plays out in the open universe. For example, when Rey has to venture to D'Qar to go and find Luke Skywalker in Episode 7, you literally have to go and get into your ship, travel to the planet and then make your way up the mountain to find him - and that's not part of an actual "level", per-se. It's an interesting approach and a great way to utilise the massive open universe, plus it means you're getting a lot more than just five levels' worth of content per-movie (on average, it took us about 3 hours to finish and get nearly 50% total completion on an individual episode).
And by the way, those open worlds look absolutely stunning. There are over 20 planets in The Skywalker Saga, ranging from the elegant Naboo to the fiery Mustafar and everything in-between, and they're not just packed with amazing detail, but many of them are huge as well. When you're not on a mission, you can explore these planets in order to talk to NPCs and take on side-missions and puzzles, with the primary goal of these being to collect Kyber Bricks, a new form of collectible and currency in the game. There are literally over 1000 Kyber Bricks you can get in The Skywalker Saga, so if you want to achieve 100% completion, you're going to be spending the vast majority of your time completing basic puzzles, climbing up ledges and trying to find all the secrets in each main level. Plus, it's not just the planets — the game also allows you to fly through space and find more Kyber Bricks, as well as take part in space battles, only adding to the vastness of it all.
Kyber Bricks and Studs are used to unlock a variety of things as part of the game's largely intuitive new user interface, including the upgrade tree. You can add to your arsenal of abilities by unlocking helpful perks such as faster walking speeds, magnetised Stud collection, extra health bars and much more, and each individual class (Jedi, Bounty Hunter, etc) can also benefit with upgrades specific to their strengths. Then, of course, you've got the 300+ characters, wide variety of ships and other goodies you can buy with the game's currency system, so it's ultimately very clear that The Skywalker Saga is targeted at collectathon fans in particular.
That's perhaps where the game might fail to reach its potential for certain people as well though. As great as these beautiful and sizeable planets are, they do admittedly feel quite similar to each other as they're all geared around completing tasks to earn Kyber Bricks. If you're the sort of person who doesn't care for collectibles and just wants to play through the movies, there's still nearly 20 hours' worth of stuff to do, but you might also feel like you're missing out on a large chunk of the experience. This isn't like It Takes Two where you discover a new open world segment and you've got fresh and unique minigames to play around every corner - there are a few things like that, but Kyber Bricks and side-missions are the primary focus above all else. If you're OK with that, you'll be more than happy here.
The only consistent downside for us with The Skywalker Saga is that it's just too easy on the whole. Listen, we understand that LEGO games are meant to be simple and enjoyed by all ages, but the lack of challenge (at least for a seasoned gamer) in key situations like blowing up the Death Star can really take away the feeling of accomplishment. It's a game that constantly wants to hold your hand, always telling you where to go and what to do when you get there (even if you turn all the assists off) and therefore it definitely feels easier and more paint-by-numbers than even The Complete Saga did back in the day. Admittedly, it's still very enjoyable to play regardless, and of course the lower difficulty means it's more accessible to players of younger ages and poorer skill levels, but we just don't feel like it needed to dumb itself down so much in certain areas.
Switching gears a little bit, we can't conclude this review without mentioning the brilliant and hilarious cutscenes. These crop up regularly as the story progresses, telling a bite sized and sometimes fairly rushed version of each movie, complete with voice acting (although you can also turn on "Mumble Mode" if you like the old voiceless Complete Saga style). For the most part, the voice acting is very good and authentic to the movies, with a few exceptions here-and-there, while the humour in these scenes is totally on point for the LEGO games, making sure the story never takes itself too seriously. It even takes some artistic liberties at times, which may prove a little controversial with some hardcore Star Wars fans, but we think it's a pretty fun touch.
It helps that the visuals are absolutely breathtaking, particularly in terms of the game's use of lighting, where you can see characters literally glistening as reflections pass over their faces. Seriously, this is by far the prettiest LEGO game of all time, and there's so much detail in The Skywalker Saga, including little details like the ability to break C-3PO in half and reattach him at will, for example, and tons of in-jokes involving things like Anakin Skywalker hating sand — you can tell this game was made by Star Wars fanatics, and you really feel it in the beautiful presentation and the various Easter Eggs littered throughout the experience. In terms of performance, we've been using VRR with the Xbox Series X version and haven't noticed any problems, although sometimes the game drops its framerate from 60fps to 30fps during cutscenes, and the visual quality also occasionally gets downgraded during a hectic bit of gameplay.
It always felt like LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga would struggle to live up to its lofty promise of delivering essentially the most expansive Star Wars game to date, but the team at TT Games really have done an amazing job on it. We've still got a few nitpicks, and we also wish it included online co-op support, but there's no denying that it's a stunningly beautiful and brilliantly ambitious take on the world of Star Wars complete with endlessly enjoyable gameplay and enough side-content to keep you busy for many, many hours to come. We've been waiting so long for this game to arrive, and we're pleased to report the Force is definitely strong with this one.