Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Switch) Review
The last time a Lego Star Wars game graced the consoles was around the time of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and a lot has happened in that time. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is finally out to span the whole main Star Wars series, remaking the previous episodes covered and completing the sequel trilogy. After several delays and, unfortunately, a lot of ‘crunch’, the game is available across all the consoles, most notably for us on the Nintendo Switch. I was curious how the Switch version would run from the day it was announced, given how much they were squeezing into this game. So let’s take a look now.
The first Lego Star Wars game came out in 2005, allowing us to play through the prequel trilogy. After nearly 20 years of Lego Star Wars games, there have been changes, but never straying too far from the traditional structure. The Skywalker Saga is the biggest shake-up for a Lego Star Wars game, including a new engine and open-world areas to roam around in. This Lego Star Wars game focuses on the nine movies/Episodes now considered the Skywalker Saga. You can start from the first episode of each trilogy; the prequels, the original trilogy or the sequels. For those who want to collect and perform as many side missions as they can along the way, I recommend starting with The Force Awakens as it unlocks some required abilities to get to inaccessible blocks.
If you played the previous Lego Star Wars games, don’t expect reused cutscenes or even the same levels you’ve played previously. With retelling the episodes, developer Travellers Tales have leaned even harder into goofy jokes, references, and all-around fun with these stories. If you don’t like all of the voice acting this time around, you can get mumble mode through a free download. Just don’t come to the Lego Star Wars games expecting a serious take on the movies.
You’ll be familiar with the platforming and scenery-destroying mayhem if you’ve played a Lego game before. You still try to fill a stud meter to earn those special bricks. In this game, gold bricks are replaced with Kyber Bricks. You’ll still be trying to get all of the mini kits while cursing all of the collectables obviously out of reach until you come back in free play mode.
Combat is another area that has seen an upgrade. For example, you can unleash multi-button combos to beat up your enemies. I managed to get through a few episodes without even being aware. I was pressing the X button when I saw a section of the screen, keeping track of attacking button presses, and it turns out that is the only one that does nothing (for attacking, it does counter attacks). It feels entirely optional because it doesn’t take that much to take apart your attackers. Although it doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, launching someone into the air and juggling them.
There’s also space battles, as you travel from planet to planet you can fly around in the nearby space. Out in the vastness of space are TIE fighters that need fighting off, space battle encounters, or even a race amongst the stars. The space combat is fun as you barrel roll and blast through the imperials in big space dogfights.
Another change is the upgrade system. While different classes of characters aren’t new, having unlockable upgrades for each class is. Initially when looking at all of the upgrades for the different classes in the menu, it feels like there’s a lot to unlock. However, once you spend some time with the game and the different classes, you’ll quickly realise you can easily go without spending any precious bricks or studs on most of the upgrades. The general upgrades that are about increasing running speed, increasing the range Lego studs are collected, or improved health are where you’ll want to spend those points. With the size of the open areas, it’s criminal that you have to spend a chunk of bricks and studs to speed around the place faster. There’s nothing to lose just letting you run wild from the get-go.
The open-world areas are spacious, placing you on these different planets within the Star Wars series. Most areas are big and spacious, at risk of being too big and spacious. For those who want to roam around the different locations full of recognisable imagery, you’ll have lots to explore. You’ll need to play through the relevant episodes to unlock the planets, though, which you’ll want to revisit as you unlock more of the classes.
For those who enjoyed the previous way the Lego games turned movie moments into levels, you might feel a bit let down with the open-world approach. While each episode goes through its condensed version of each movie, much of the progression is done through the open areas. In these open areas, there’s puzzles and class-specific obstacles keeping you from Kyber bricks, characters and data cards. If you don’t want to engage with all of the side content, good news! You can make a beeline to the objective marker to continue the story without bothering with most of it.
With so much of the game being optional, players can choose to stick to the story and finish the main part of the episodes in 20 hours (less if you rush), or try to collect everything. When playing through, I shifted between the two. I would try to complete side missions and collect things if they were nearby, then get back to following the story after accidentally spending an extra hour chasing down Kyber Bricks or picking up side quests.
I’m torn on how I feel about how much the game has crammed in it as very optional content. There are more planets than you would expect, with large areas to explore and over 100 side stories to complete, amongst many other odd jobs. A report by Polygon earlier this year helped shine light on the long development period and the crunch expected of employees to make these open worlds, to shower the player with playable characters and the many many things to participate in the game. It is still very much an enjoyable game, although it’s still not a practice that should be encouraged.
As the game approached launch day with very little known about how the Switch version played, I am relieved to say that it holds up. It may not always have a super smooth framerate, but it’s serviceable. You’ll notice some rough-looking textures and pop in, but nothing you wouldn’t expect from this multi-platform game up and running so well on the Switch. Loading is the area I expected the game to suffer, but Travellers Tales hide some loads behind slightly slower Star Wars screen wipes. There are some moments with longer loads, but they are few and far between and even those loads aren’t egregious.
While a lot has changed, two-player co-op is still here. It’s a shared split-screen only, and as with previous games, it will all come down to your personal preferences as to how you feel about how Lego games divide the screen. Not every sequence is made for two players, so don’t be surprised if boss battles focus on just the first player.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the biggest shake-up of the Lego game formula while also cramming nine movies into one game, like stuffing Luke into a Tauntaun. It won’t be the way you remember the old levels for long-term fans, but they give you the universe to traverse in between adventures to keep you busy for hours.
+ Finally the full saga is complete in one universe sized game
+ Runs well on the Switch
- The upgrade system feels unnecessary
- The open world can be too open