A Short, Sufficient Build
HIGH Levels with multiple solutions.
LOW Levels with single solutions.
WTF That robot sure can barf up lots of bricks.
LEGO bricks were always one of my favorite toys growing up, and I’ve always enjoyed the LEGO titles by TT Games. Those are really the only LEGO videogames I’ve played – control a mini-fig, accomplish a task, move on the next level. So, having the chance to play a puzzle-centric entry, LEGO Builder’s Journey, piqued my interest right away.
Builder’s Journey is a puzzler originally released for Apple Arcade, now receiving a Switch and PC port. Players follow the highly interpretive tale of a brick-built character as it traverses basic square stages – start at point A and try to reach point B.
Preventing the player from reaching the goal are LEGO rivers, sinking mud, wide chasms and a host of other brick-built obstacles. Multiple loose bricks are scattered around the stages – players can pick these up, rotate, and stack them to exposed LEGO studs around the level. Completing a path allows the brick character to walk across and move on to the next level.
Some stages offer simple solutions and ask the player to follow the most basic directions with the pieces in a set order. Other levels are more complex and allow players to build paths in a variety of layouts using an array of LEGO pieces. The latter were always the most enjoyable, as it felt closest to playing with physical bricks – players can be creative and build what they want. Single-solution puzzles, especially those in the middle of the campaign, were less engaging.
Surprisingly, the short, wordless story is one of the highpoints of Builder’s Journey. It can be completed in less than five hours so I don’t want to reveal too much, but themes like separation, parent-child relationships, and even being overworked can all be found here. Kudos to the developers for delivering a strong narrative without a single word uttered
While the interpretive story is a high point, the brevity in Builder’s Journey is also a slight letdown. I’m a fan of short games, but with less than 50 puzzles to solve, this package could have benefited from a few more stages.
I was also a little disappointed in the touch controls. Having been a timed Apple Arcade exclusive, I was expecting top-notch touchscreen input. Selecting and moving pieces was fabulous, but locking bricks into place became a lesson in patience. (Spoiler: I failed that lesson and quickly moved to controller input.) The controller was better overall, but choosing which brick to pick up was not as seamless as using touch.
Issues aside, it’s good to see LEGO Builder’s Journey receive a wider release. It’s a little on the short side, but has a surprisingly good story. Players who enjoy puzzle games, especially fans of LEGO, will find a lot to like.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Light Brick Studio and published by LEGO System. It is currently available on Switch, iOS, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately five hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E. There is no official description, but this one is safe for all gamers. The main character can rarely be “hurt” and when it does happen, it simply falls apart and is rebuilt on the stage.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game does not offer subtitles, however the entire story is told via visuals. There is no voice over. Menu text cannot be altered and/or resized. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. This game does not offer a controller map diagram but does have a mini-tutorial at the beginning to introduce the controls. Choosing a piece and moving it is accomplished on the left stick. Pressing the A button picks a piece up. Tapping A again rotates the piece and holding the A button snaps the brick onto another piece in the level. Players can drop the piece by pressing the B button. The right stick rotates the level, but levels do not rotate fully. Touch controls are also available.
When he does find time to play, Brian’s preferred games of choice are platformers, beat-‘em-ups, or a good adventure game.He still enjoys the retro gaming scene, could talk about the Nintendo 64 more than he might like to admit, and misses playing in actual arcades. Brian also gets to pass on his love of gaming, as his oldest son is just now starting to join the fun.
As for that GameBoy - it’s sitting in Brian’s nightstand, waiting patiently for four AA batteries.