I’d not played the original 2D release of Lego Bricktales, but I played its spiritual predecessor, the amazing Lego Builder’s Journey, a game that captures the joy of building with Lego. As delightful as Lego Builder’s Journey is, it did not prepare me for how engrossing Lego Bricktales would be in VR.
The idea is simple, as a (customisable) Lego Minifig, you must help your grandfather by visiting a series of Lego scenes, solving puzzles and building Lego on the way. The locations are packed with detail and a joy to explore with your character.
In VR, the diorama is like a little 1:1 scale Lego stage in front of you. You can rotate it and place it where you like. But, of course, the Meta Quest 3 has a colour passthrough camera for mixed reaity. This means that the Lego diorama isn’t just floating in a pastel-hued space like in the 2D version (although you have that option), but there, in front of you, in your room.
The Meta Quest 3 version of Bricktales is about the most natural mixed reality experience I’ve ever had. Despite the Meta Quest 3’s passthrough camera not being as good as I’d like, I can’t understate how much-mixed reality brings to the Bricktales experience. Mixed reality allows you to play games without the isolation that usually comes with VR. You are still present in the real world but still in an amazing virtual playground. The game is so much better having the diorama resting on your lounge carpet or on the table.
Whilst there are loads of Lego games out there, prior to Bricktales, only Lego Builder’s Journey came anywhere near, offering the digital equivalent of building things with real Lego parts. Bricktales requires players to actually build things with Lego bricks to solve puzzles. These can be simple statues or complex structures.
Each individual brick needs to be picked up, orientated and placed. It takes a bit of getting used to, and I found my arms getting a bit tired, griping controllers and contorting my wrist with some of my more unimaginative and repetitive (but structurally sound) designs.
Building self-supporting Lego bridges and structures and then testing them seemed a bit familiar. It turns out that the game’s developer, Clockstone, cut its teeth on the very popular Bridge Constructor games.
The game gives players a limited number of Lego pieces with which to create their structure. The solution requires creativity and some understanding of the stresses and strains that are part of structural engineering design. Once successful, you can return to your Lego structure and sandbox the design with the additional bricks that are made available.
As you progress in the game, your Lego Minifig gains new abilities unlocking previously unpassable areas. Collectables grant new outfits and items and more bricks to play with in sandbox mode.
Lego Bricktales is one of those games that you have on hand to show off your Meta Quest 3 (and justify your purchase) to your family and friends. Lego is an iconic toy that everyone understands and can play with. In mixed reality, players are still present in the road, and by casting the view to the TV non-players can see what’s going on, making it fun family entertainment. I absolutely recommend this game to anyone with a Meta Quest 3 or hoping to have one under the tree this Christmas.