LEGO is a timeless toy for creators of all ages. My kids have loved playing with the plastic bricks since they could hold one, and it's a great way for them to explore their own creativity and learn some physical lessons. But sometimes, even an eight-year-old can get stuck on what to build. Enter LEGO Bricktales for the Meta Quest 3.
All of the fun of brick building is here, wrapped up with an engaging mixed-reality adventure. Thankfully, what is missing are the real-world bricks to step on when my kids leave them lying around.
Let the brick building adventure begin
While this isn't a totally new game — it was released on PC and gaming consoles in October — using the Quest 3 to take advantage of the mixed-reality, full-color passthrough adds a new spin to the experience. You can also play the game on the older Quest 2; you'll just always play in the virtual settings, which aren't too distracting and can add some immersion to the scenes.
LEGO Bricktales combines storytelling with the ever-popular brick building. You don't start off in a sandbox mode, though I'd love a place to generate your own builds in a future update. Instead, you start off by finding your grandfather in his laboratory working on a project that has gone awry, and he needs your help to fix it.
Here, you go through some of the introductory phases of learning how to manipulate bricks and tips on what to do. The building tasks arise when you see a floating hammer. You'll be presented with a problem you'll have to solve with your brick-building skills. Once you complete these first few tasks, you'll be ready to head out on the real adventure.
The main objective of the game is to take one of your grandfather's inventions, a robot helper, and go through the portal in the center of a theme park that is in need of repair and fix it with... happiness. Yes, it's a bit corny, but what better way to fix an amusement park than with happiness?
Before you go, you can customize your mini-fig character and gain new accessories as you progress through the game. With your character the way you want it, you can go into the portal and begin the adventure in a jungle. There are five different biomes you'll explore: sandy deserts, a busy city, a medieval castle, tropical islands, and the jungle.
The design team did a great job of bringing the world of LEGO to life with well-designed worlds to explore. While you don't have to use the AR features of the Quest 3, it really does add another layer of fun to the game, as being able to twist and adjust the play space is great. You can leave it floating in the middle of your room or place it on your kitchen table and explore it that way.
As you explore different parts of each biome, you'll meet different characters and have to solve various building challenges, and this is where the difficulty goes up a tick. Exploring the worlds and the tasks throughout the game is fun but not overly challenging. So, I guess it makes sense that the building part is where it gets tougher.
I had my eight-year-old give the game a try to see what he thought of it. Right away, he loved it, but when it came time to build, he got a bit frustrated.
Each building challenge provides you with a problem you have to solve and a predetermined type and number of bricks to pick from. You'll sometimes have existing bricks to build on that; other times, you won't. There are also some builds where instead of building however you want to solve the problem, you'll have to replicate a build to complete the challenge.
One of the early challenges is to build a bridge, and though that seems pretty simple, you have to keep real-world physics in mind. Things like ensuring it is properly built so it doesn't come apart when you walk on it. Also, remember that your character can only climb over a single brick, so don't build too tall. I do like that even though it is a video game, it takes real-world restrictions into account.
When you finish a build, you'll have to pass some tests before it will move into the game. This test is done by a little robot that will go up the stairs you built, the bridge, or whatever else you've constructed. If the robot can get from point A to point B, then you've succeeded, and the build will show up in the game so you can complete the task.
After you successfully complete a build, sometimes you can take it into a sandbox where you'll get unlimited bricks in different colors to customize your build further and make it more unique and fun. But be careful because what you do in the sandbox can detract from the viability, so you'll need to test it again to ensure it's still good.
There is quite a learning curve to get used to how the controls work in building mode. Between moving blocks, rotating each one to where you need it to be, and figuring out why a build failed can be difficult. I do wish LEGO Bricktales supported hand tracking like some other top Meta Quest games do. Instead, you see a blue dot as the on-screen indicator. Turning bricks can be done by rotating your hand to where you want it, but you can also use the joystick to snap-rotate the bricks.
It's not an overly complicated process, but it does take some getting used to and can get frustrating. Like in real life, my son would work on a challenge, and when he wanted to make a change, he'd just remove a brick and literally toss it aside, ending up with a mess of bricks everywhere. To avoid this, you can put your cursor near a brick and press Y to send it back to the stack of bricks.
Part of the fun moving through the game is exploring the world and some of the little tasks you get to do without building. Like finding a wheel that you can turn and find out what happens when you do. You'll have to turn your hand in real life in order to turn the wheel in the game. Little things like that add to the immersion of the game.
Something else you get to do in the game is to earn bananas that you get to spend on different things in the game, like power-ups or accessories. Speaking of power-ups, one that you get early on is where you can jump and smash the ground to clear things like small plants out of your way. There are new abilities to learn as you move through the game.
Fun and challenging
LEGO Bricktales has just enough story to provide you with a purpose while going through the game, but at its core, it is still the brick-building fun you'd expect from a LEGO game. I like that you have a preset goal for each task, but once you complete a build, you get the option to take it to the sandbox to really let your creativity show.
While the controls in the game aren't overly complex, it does take some getting used to as you figure out what you need to do, get the bricks needed, and learn how to manipulate the space and bricks. Once you've mastered those things, you can have fun working out each LEGO challenge and saving the theme park.
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