If you brought up children in the 2010s, the Lego video games were probably as big a part of your family downtime as Pixar and Peppa Pig. From the original Lego Star Wars in 2005 to the wonderful Lego Marvel Super Heroes, the series has expertly followed the trends of blockbuster franchised entertainment, converting even the darkest moments of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter into slapstick interactive diversions, as entertaining to parents as they were to children. What really marked the titles out, though, was their multiplayer, which provided a safe space for children to learn the fundaments of the action adventure genre in the company of their parents and siblings – from accurate jumping to puzzle solving to melee combat.
Now a whole new generation will have that pleasure. Taking players on a mammoth journey through all nine of the movies, The Skywalker Saga treats each episode as a mini-adventure that closely follows the narrative of the film, adding extra sequences to enhance the playability and puzzle-solving fun. You can take on the trilogies in any order, though you always have to start with the opening chapter, so you can’t just skip to The Empire Strikes Back without completing A New Hope.
Wherever you choose to begin, you get a breathless, often laugh-out-loud thrill ride, filled with the sorts of visual gags and slapstick asides that have made the series so hugely successful. Take a wrong turn in the Death Star and you’ll discover Stormtroopers doing a tai chi class; explore Cloud City and you’ll find where Lando Calrissian keeps his vast collection of fancy cloaks. It’s worth playing just for the excellent cinematics, which often nod slyly toward longstanding fan debates and talking points. The finale of The Force Awakens, for example, has a grief-stricken Chewbacca running to embrace Leia, who appears set to return his affection, only to leg it right past him and hug Rey. The “who shot first” controversy from the Mos Eisley cantina also gets a ridiculous new spin.
Each world is beautifully constructed, taking advantage of the power of modern hardware. The battle at Maz Kanata’s castle takes place in the bright evening sun, with lens flare glinting off incoming fighter craft, while Coruscant provides a vast, vertigo-inducing metropolis of bustling streets and looming skyscrapers. The spaceships are designed to resemble real-life Lego models and they’re so intricately built, it’s a pleasure just watching them swoop overhead.
The episodes are light on puzzles, and you’re never going to be stuck for longer than a few minutes. It’s often about working out how to use the special skills of each member of your party; Rey can build gadgets such as gliders and net throwers, while Han Solo can analyse mechanical systems to trigger traps and explosions.
Combat is soft too. Your characters have generous health reserves and a mix of blasters, lightsabers and melee moves that crush most enemies with ease. There are slightly more demanding boss battles, including a long tussle with the trash compactor monster and a multi-stage showdown against Kylo Ren, but we’re not talking Elden Ring here. More advanced players will discover a gentle role-playing element: the different character classes all get skill trees, so you can open up new abilities as you go, and there’s a combo system to bring depth to fist and lightsaber fights. But if your kid just wants to spam the attack button, the game isn’t going to punish them.
Difficulty has never really been the point, after all. These are games you just want to experience and share, and it’s nice to be carried along on a wave of silly japes and pinpoint-accurate references to Star Wars lore. And even though each of the episodes can be completed in little over an hour, there are lots of open, explorable areas that reveal side quests and other hidden extras. Once you’re done, you can fly around the galaxy, landing on any of the planets you fancy. Obsessive fans will also want to collect all 380 different characters.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a well-made and highly entertaining addition to this long, long series. It’s not doing anything radically new with the recipe, but it doesn’t really need to – this is a game about nostalgia, not just for Star Wars but for the Lego games themselves. These games have always sought to conjure our favourite family movie franchises as we choose to remember them, shorn of all the boring, indulgent and problematic bits. My god, even The Phantom Menace is bearable here. For this feat alone, the game deserves the attention of fans and families throughout the galaxy.