This one kinda came out of nowhere amongst all the other big E3 stuff, but being a LEGO fan for most of my life – it was easily one of the best reveals of the bunch.
Now, unlike other LEGO games that are usually action-adventure or sandboxes, Builder’s Journey is more of a minimalistic puzzle game. It is divided into a series of levels that take the form of different dioramas of sorts, where only a few elements can be interacted with. You would think this might limit creative freedom, but the puzzles can actually be pretty clever.
You might be simply building a bridge and getting your character to the other side, but eventually you get machines to work with, a skateboard, and even a robot companion that introduces an entirely new way to place pieces. I do not want to spoil it all here, but for how long the game lasts, it does a good job introducing new stuff to keep the experience engaging without ever going overboard on its difficulty – although, I’d be lying if I said a couple of the puzzles didn’t have me stuck for a good bit.
As for that length, the game took me an hour and a half to 100%. This is about 50% longer than the original release on Apple Arcade, with a bunch of new levels and mechanics introduced in this version. And, although this length is relatively normal for games within the “minimalistic puzzle” genre, I can still see that number turning away people – so that is something to keep in mind.
Alright, now the graphics. Honestly, it might be better to think of Builder’s Journey as half game, half tech demo, because it has that one-two combo of being incredibly difficult to run, but looking absolutely amazing once it is going. Ray Tracing, DLSS, 4K support, volumetric lighting, global illumination – it is all there and can easily bring your PC to a crawl if it is not equipped for it.
I myself am still unable to find an RTX 3080, so I’m still on that 1070 Ti. Of course, that means I could not use ray tracing, but I also had to turn down settings to medium and drop the resolution to 1080p just to get the game to 60 fps. It still looked pretty good at these settings, but the fps fluctuated a lot, anywhere from 40 to 90. So yeah, this might actually be a good choice for benchmarking.
If you don’t mind getting rid of the visual upgrades, you can run the game in classic mode. This removes most of the graphical enhancements over the Apple Arcade version, but is far easier to run (I was able to get around 200-300 fps at 1440p).
Once you get it all setup properly, the visuals never disappoint. This is easily one of the best-looking games to come out this year and I highly recommend looking at the 4K ray-traced trailer just to get a glimpse as to what more powerful hardware is capable of.
The music is also worth noting. It too goes for that minimalistic feel, being mostly atmospheric ambient stuff to emphasize the sound effects. It’s a zen-like experience and goes well with the laidback nature of the gameplay. The story too. You may just be placing down LEGO pieces with no dialogue to speak of, but Builder’s Journey goes to great lengths to tell a proper coming of age story – one that somehow has me feeling emotion over a simple stack of three LEGO pieces.
Honestly, my biggest complaint would be with the controls. It is obvious that this was designed with mobile in mind and the mouse controls take some getting used to. For example, to place a piece, you left click to pick it up, click while it’s floating to rotate it, and then HOLD left click to place. I feel like it would have been better to have rotations done with the mouse wheel or some keys and get rid of the HOLD to place, but it’s a minor issue all things considered.
So yes, I would recommend LEGO Builder’s Journey. It may be a short experience at just 1.5 hours, but it is a fun and engaging one for that time and also manages to tell a proper story. I cannot say I have played another LEGO game quite like it and I am interested in seeing what the studio brings to us in the future.
Quote: LEGO Builder’s Journey may be a short experience at just 1.5 hours, but it is a fun and engaging one for that time and also manages to tell a proper story. An easy recommendation for LEGO fans.
LEGO Builder’s Journey retails for $20 USD on Steam. It is also available on Switch.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.