LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is a joyful celebration of the Star Wars franchise but is set back by a myriad of technical flaws and questionable design decisions. The first LEGO Star Wars game in almost six years, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga provides fans with an expansive trip across the Star Wars universe with all nine core games explored through a mix of open-world levels and set pieces that recreate some of the most iconic scenes in Star Wars history. This is also the biggest LEGO game yet with dozens of worlds to explore and missions that range in scope from puzzles to space battles to boss fights to timed trials. But while the game tries to provide a bit of everything for everyone, it spreads itself too thin in parts as the game has numerous small glitches and technical struggles and a lack of ingenuity or originality in terms of its actual design.
In LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, players will have the opportunity to play through all nine Star Wars movies while unlocking new characters, vehicles, and worlds as they do. Once a player completes a level, they'll have the opportunity to revisit it in free-play to discover new secrets using characters outside the scope of the movie. One big change made from past LEGO Star Wars movies is that each character is now divided into one of 10 character classes with each of those possessing unique abilities. While certain characters had unique abilities in past LEGO Star Wars games, now every character has something unique to do which provides more variety to the type of puzzles that appear in various levels. As with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, players can travel to different planets where most of which have one or more "open-world" areas filled with optional missions to complete. These open-world areas are also incorporated into the story mode of the game with players having to slowly walk from one side of an area to another while listening to dialogue or furthering the story in some way.
As noted in our preview of the game, the actual LEGO Star Wars combat system received a big upgrade in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. The ranged combat is much better than before with players able to take aim at specific body parts. Shooting the head will do more damage while shooting an enemy's legs will cause them to hop in pain. Melee combat now has a counter system and combos, allowing players to do more even more in fights. I also liked the little variations in how certain characters fought. Kylo Ren has different fight animations from Rey, while Poe Dameron's jumping attack was different from someone like Finn or Rose. That made me feel like the characters are a little more than interchangeable skins for certain character classes and encouraged me to spend my hard-earned LEGO Studs to unlock more characters.
The good news is that there's a LOT to do in LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. There are over 1,000 Kyber Blocks to collect which are used as rewards for various puzzles and missions and can also unlock different character power-ups. Players could easily put in 70 or 80 hours into LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga and still have lots of content to unlock. However, having put over 20 hours into the game, I could already see the designers struggling to innovate at times. The boss fights are disappointingly similar with the only key differences in the lightsaber fights being various environmental obstacles. The space battles (especially the dog fights) are also disappointingly one-note as the TIE fighters and droid ships mostly float around waiting for players to shoot them down instead of actually trying to fight back or tail the players. That's probably a good thing as the vehicle controls are strangely non-intuitive and change depending on the type of vehicle and environment. And for every interesting puzzle to complete, there are two more that boil down to finding a lightly hidden button to press or a power coil to put into the right generator. I was also slightly surprised by the lack of LEGO building in the game – there's still an element of building to be found in some levels, but nearly to the same extent as the last LEGO Star Wars game I played (which to be fair was over a decade ago.)
I could probably forgive the repetitive level design (this is an all-ages game and most kid players will not mind doing the same mission over and over again), but the game also has a disappointing amount of small technical glitches. Given the well-documented problems that accompanied the game's development, it was astounding just how unpolished parts of the game were. I had to restart the game no less than four times during my initial playthrough because levels didn't load properly, and there were a couple of forced reboots due to system errors as well. While some of this may have been due to using a docked Nintendo Switch (which doesn't have the power that a PS5 or Xbox Series X has), there's just no excuse for a level not loading the TIE fighters you need to shoot down to progress or getting stuck because the Tusken Raiders that are supposed to ambush you never appear.
Even when the levels did load properly, there were still some parts of the game that needed polishing. Characters would inexplicably float into midair at times while text would occasionally appear on the screen out of focus. You could actually see the individual image assets for the text in the Episode IX opening scroll with random letters outlined by a rectangle. At times, the camera won't let players look up at the next platform to jump on, or it will hit an invisible wall and suddenly bounce back while the player attempts a mid-air maneuver. For a game of this caliber, the sheer number of mistakes, glitches, and flaws is inexcusable.
In its quest to be the "definitive" LEGO Star Wars game, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga tries to do too much and suffers as a result. While the game offers players a variety of different game modes and level types, there's nothing that it truly excels in. The puzzles are OK, the vehicles are OK, the missions are OK, and the story set pieces are good but not great. Honestly, if not for the fact that the game still has that crucial LEGO Star Wars charm and humor, a lot of players would probably be very frustrated with the game experience. Even with its lack of polish, I enjoyed LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga because I love Star Wars and I love building LEGO sets. But people who don't share that passion won't get as much enjoyment from this flawed experience as I did.
Rating: 3 out of 5
A Nintendo Switch review code for LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was provided by the publisher, and it was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch OLED model.