The LEGO Bricktales game was quite an interesting take on the video game series. Instead of being themed around a specific franchise, it created an original story where players explored different environments, built LEGO structures and met all sorts of LEGO characters. Essentially, LEGO Bricktales VR is the same game but with a new VR spin where the game is fully playable in virtual reality.
Instead of using a camera to rotate the LEGO board in front of you, the VR headset acts as the window into the Bricktales land and you can rotate this structure and zoom in and out with ease. If anything, VR just suits LEGO Bricktales perfectly. Entering the game felt like I was sitting in front of a table of gorgeously constructed LEGO environments and I could peer around each construction like I would an actual build in real life.
I could then move my head around to take in all the little details scattered around the game. Be it a lush jungle teeming with secrets in every under cave or a vast dry desert with glowing red dunes. It just works.
LEGO Bricktales VR also relies heavily on its crafting feature and it too compliments the VR like a dream. Each structure is built on a table similar to the large environments in the game. But I could pick each LEGO brick up and rotate it around in my hand to see its nubs and sockets. I could then clip it into the build in front of me and further rotate the entire scene to get a closer look at what was going on. The VR feature let me get up close and personal with all my builds and if anything, helped me refine all the brick placements and angles.
When I played the original LEGO Bricktales game, I remember skipping most of the building process. You see, the game tasks you to build specific structures with simple demands. Be it a certain height or including a certain LEGO brick. While the demands are streamlined, the game provides a good number of bricks to reach this objective.
Once you hit the objective you can always skip the rest of the process and carry on with the game. However, in this case, the VR mode and immersion of the building forced me to carry on glamourizing each of my structures. I sat there and used almost every spare brick to make the best possible build at the time. It also helps that whatever you build forms in the environment around you. So if you spend more time making pretty items, the world around you will look just as pretty.
These various structures then play into the main game’s story arc. You are a LEGO Builder who ventures into a series of themed worlds to find joy bricks in order to revive a once-great LEGO amusement park. Each world is filled with LEGO characters and a highly detailed diorama of the environment to explore on foot.
The character is controlled with the analogue stick and the diorama is moved around with the grab button on the Meta Quest 3. I also set things up once where the diorama sat in the middle of the room and I walked around the structure as I played the game. This is thanks to the Meta Quest 3’s incredible mixed-reality feature. I was hoping for a bit more MR but more on that later.
The story is okay. Most of the time the people in each world need help doing something and I used my construction knowledge and experience to complete the task. If it wasn’t building structures using the diorama-styled editor, it was solving puzzles and creating functional objects which translated into the game world and became functional.
I could also go back at any time and rebuild an item if I wanted to change its look. This is especially great for the amusement park section where I had to build karts for rollercoasters and other equipment. When I got tired of that same look or design, I just remixed it by building something new.
It was rewarding seeing the creation I put together come to life in the game world. It was even better being able to peer around the whole structure to take in the finer details. The entire experience feels as if I am building LEGO structures on the floor in my bedroom as a child and that magic is wholly unique to VR and LEGO.
While the world design in the game is fun to take in, there are issues. One of my gripes with LEGO Bricktales VR is its backtracking. The game requires so much backtracking to the previous worlds in order to 100% them. This is because you only unlock all the items and power-ups much later in the story. The more I played, the more I just wanted to complete the world while I was there and not come back. The game doesn’t allow that.
Instead, I had to leave so much behind each time and remember where it all was when I got back. I get that this system is important to prolong the gameplay but LEGO Bricktales VR just abuses this a little too much for my liking. Even when I had a handful of items, I never had them all so after a while, I gave up backtracking until I completed the game. This is the same gripe I had with the non-VR version. It also doesn’t help that walking around the world is slow and tedious so re-exploring each nook and cranny becomes a real chore.
LEGO Bricktales VR also includes a sandbox mode where you can build anything you want with bricks collected throughout the game. This is truly as sandbox as it gets and feels great to play. You can mess around with creations and theme them after certain styled LEGO packs which are purchased from the in-game (non-real money) store. It definitely adds much-needed value to the game. However, even the main campaign is quite a decent size with 10-12 hours of content.
On the topic of Meta Quest 3 features, LEGO Bricktales VR runs well on the headset and looks impressive. Highly-detailed LEGO dioramas make everything look refined and the general performance is smooth. I was hoping that the focus would be a bit better in the game so you could see right up close to each brick and perhaps even the LEGO branding. However, things start to blur a bit when you get too close.
The game is also controlled using both the analogue sticks, buttons and motion of your arms to rotate the diorama. It works and feels smooth. However, there were times when the camera would randomly snap back to the outer position and ruin my immersion. It should not lock in place at all times even during cutscenes. I should be able to move about freely while talking is happening.
The mixed reality feature in LEGO Bricktales VR is a little too simple too. The game is just playable in the real world so while you’re rotating the diorama and moving about the world, you can see your surroundings. It doesn’t really do anything else to merge into mixed reality. I was hoping that I could place the game diorama on a table in front of me and act as if the board was an actual object in my house. However, the Meta Quest 3 detected the table as an obstruction. I had to manually push my boundary over it and even then, the diorama just floated in the air.
LEGO Bricktales VR was already a good game but the VR version feels like an entirely new experience. It does a great job delivering an interactive LEGO activation that immersed me in bricks and quirky characters. I would confidently say that LEGO Bricktales VR is the Meta Quest 3’s killer app.
This LEGO Bricktales VR review is based on a code sent to us by Thunderful Publishing. The game releases on 7 December for Meta Quest 2, Meta Quest Pro and Meta Quest 3 for $29,99.
LEGO Bricktales VR
Beyond its tedious backtracking, LEGO Bricktales VR is the definitive way to play the great builder game. The VR features bring the worlds to life and the creation modes feel like you’re fiddling around with LEGO builds on the carpet in your bedroom as a kid.