In a departure from the usual Lego game comes Builder's Journey; an isometric puzzler that will challenge your puzzle-solving abilities.
In essence, Lego Builder's Journey has you place Lego pieces strategically on a small play area in order to build a path for a character to continue their journey. It all starts out quite simply as you get used to the controls, of which there really is only one button to learn other than moving the cursor around. The fact that you use one button to control everything might seem a little odd given how complex Lego builds can get but once you get used to it, you'll find it to be mostly intuitive. There were occasions when I struggled to place the piece just where I wanted it to be, though, so it does require a little patience in the slightly more crowded puzzles.
Much of your time is spent reuniting what looks like a child and their parent although they're rendered in Lego so it's tough to really say. Specifically, there are no animated faces, voices, and happy songs like you might expect from other Lego titles. Instead, the player has to use their creativity to interpret what's happening in the story by paying attention to visual clues, changes in sound effects, and the subtle character animations that convey emotion. My hat's off to Light Brick Studio for managing to communicate story in this way.
The characters can only move on special pieces that are placed on the ground so the challenge is to build simplistic structures and bridges while you guide them along, placing a piece for them to stand on one step at a time. As you get further into the journey, the gameplay changes by introducing new mechanics such as building curved paths for skateboarding and operating complex machinery.
I must admit, I got stumped more than once and I had to take a break and come back to it later to figure out how to progress. Don't get me wrong; Lego Builder's Journey does a good job at introducing new gameplay elements and then working them into more complex puzzles later but even with this direction, it can get frustrating when there's nothing actually telling you what the goal of a puzzle is and on top of that, there's no hint system whatsoever. Sometimes, I felt like I was having flashbacks to being a toddler presented with wooden blocks while using all of my brain power to figure out that the cube shape went into the square hole.
Lego Builder's Journey is an attractive title for a Lego game, especially in its use of lighting and water effects. The subtle background music and sound effects perfectly set the tone for a leisurely play session which can be quite a funny contrast when you're sitting there frustrated that you just don't know what to do next. It's also an intriguing change of pace from the usual Lego game.
The whole atmosphere of Lego Builder's Journey is minimalistic from the menus to the visuals to the gameplay and this is an area where it can feel a little lacking as there are no collectibles which would have been great for introducing an additional layer of challenge. It's also an entirely solo affair, lacking any kind of leaderboards or multiplayer. Finally, it's all over quite quickly as it only lasts a few hours.
Lego Builder's Journey presents a challenging and attractive puzzler that you'll keep coming back to although you won't be at it long as it'll be over well before you'd hope it would be. Plus, it lacks replay value and hints to help with the more unintuitive puzzles.
- + Unique stage-based puzzle gameplay with a solid amount of challenge
- + Attractive visuals and relaxing sound design
- + Conveys a story with minimal presentation
- - It's sometimes difficult to figure out exactly what some levels expect of you
- - Quite short and lacks replay value
- - Could use a hint system