The LEGO video game space is occupied almost entirely by games that use bricks and Minifigures to flesh out existing worlds. But what about, you know, the actual building of things? Enter LEGO Builder’s Journey, a plucky little puzzler that flew under pretty much everyone’s radar – it might have something to do with launching first on Apple Arcade…
It initially launched back in 2019 and has since been plugged into various gaming platforms, with the PS4 and PS5 being the latest ones. But that’s not why we’re here. The most exciting part is that the game has also been updated with a Creative Mode, one that aims to entice physical LEGO builders to pick it up.
What is LEGO Builder’s Journey?
In a nutshell, LEGO Builder’s Journey is a chill puzzle game. Your objective is to use common bricks and pieces to construct pre-made dioramas, much like you would do with physical LEGO sets. The game aims to digitize the experience of putting together a LEGO set while also including a slight brain-bending element for an added challenge. Its calming tunes and simple, apt sound effects give it a chill vibe that’s perfect for plopping yourself down for some zen-like “me time” when a physical set isn’t readily available.
Up until now, the game only offered its Story Mode with its pre-made levels. But that all changed recently with the introduction of Creative Mode.
What is Different About Creative Mode?
The brand-spankin’ new mode in LEGO Builder’s Journey’s does what it says on its virtual box: it gives you a mini sandbox space to put brick to brick together any way you want. Where the Story Mode is like working with a LEGO kit’s instructions, guiding you step-by-step towards a finished product, Creative Mode takes the training wheels off. It’s all on you to make anything you desire with the pieces given to you.
What’s more, you can save HD pictures of your creation to share with others.
How Does Building Work in Creative Mode?
The best way to understand building in LEGO Builder’s Journey’s Creative Mode is to compare it to physical LEGO products. With the Story Mode, you’re given an end goal, much in the same way you are with a pre-packaged LEGO set. Creative Mode is more like getting a small bucket or box of pieces without any particular form, building, or diorama to construct.
The main difference is that the game gives you pieces from a specific pool depending on which starting environment you select.
The game doesn’t give you an entirely blank canvas, however. After entering Creative Mode, you can select from a collection of jump-off points. Most are, in fact, just a flat LEGO surface to stack bricks on, while a few have pre-built bases that lead you towards the type of creation you can put together. For instance, one of these is one clearly intended to be made into a wheeled vehicle, as the starting point is a set of four wheels on a single brick.
Once you’ve picked your workspace, you can begin unleashing your LEGO builder’s creativity. On the side, you’ve got a cute little LEGO cupboard from where you can draw new pieces. Each time you open it, a new miniature collection of bricks, poles, pegs, and other assorted parts are laid out for you to pick up and place.
There’s also a bucket that allows you to change the color of your pieces. Pick it up with your mouse, controller, or finger (depending on the device you’re playing on), select your desired color, then dump the contents on your pieces. It sounds like a roundabout way to make color changes, but its whimsy feels very on-brand.
At the base of your LEGO canvas are two arrows that allow you to rotate it so you can place each piece the way you want.
From there on, all that’s left is your own imagination. The best part is that your pieces are limitless, as each one you use gets immediately replaced with the exact same one until you swap them out by opening the little cupboard.
Once your creation is fully formed, you can use the menu to change the lighting (which looks absolutely stunning in a ray-tracing enabled device like a PC and a PS5) and save a picture. After that, you can choose to move on to another starting point or dismantle your work and start all over again.
Should Physical LEGO Builders Play Creative Mode?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is, hell yes!
LEGO Builder’s Journey, at its initial release, was already a solid recreation of the brick building experience. It blurred the lines between being a game and an emulation of putting LEGO together to create something fun. Creative Mode is a natural extension of that.
Just as you would eventually move on to building sets the way you imagine (hopefully!), diving into this game’s Creative lets you play with the toys it offers as you see fit. Granted, the signature audible snapping of pieces connecting isn’t there, but the experience is as organically close as you can get without using something as clunky and complex as a LEGO simulator.
The gameplay itself is not a deep, multi-layered experience – PC controls and console controllers can offer more accuracy for brick placement than touch controls – but as with actual LEGO building, the experience is what you make it. And this game is very easy on the eyes. With gorgeous dream-like lighting and effects, it’s easy to be taken in by the graphical prettiness and atmospheric isometrics.
Whether you want to revisit a long-lost childhood or kick back and aimlessly stack some bricks together, LEGO Builder’s Journey has the Creative Mode to give you what you need.
LEGO Software and Media Before the LEGO Star Wars Games
Before we wrap it up here, I had to really emphasize how Builder’s Journey represents a step in a good direction for the LEGO gaming junction. Traveller’s Tales 2017 sandbox LEGO Worlds was one of the last big original LEGO creation games, and it is about time that this type of LEGO software play experience came back into the limelight. It needs to be refined and developed further.
I previously took a look at LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. And while it is a decent game, it did not really take advantage of the “LEGO” aspect of the title. Skywalker Saga is a comedic, simplified destruction-oriented Star Wars game with a LEGO skin. Unlike Builder’s Journey, it’s just not very LEGO.
Though the LEGO Group seems so reluctant to acknowledge their less successful pre-Traveller’s Tales software, hopefully they begin to recognize this and begin to generate some truly compelling building game experiences that connect with people. So then maybe we’ll see the release of a new racer-builder game (sequel to LEGO Racers anyone?), or even a new LEGO Island. But of course that would require more world building on LEGO’s part, which has not seemed a priority these days.
Until that time comes around again, definitely be sure to give LEGO Builder’s Journey a shot! The game is available on iOS, macOS, Windows, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Series X/S, and PS4, PS5.
What do you think of this game? Have you played it? Do you want to see more original LEGO games and software with building capabilities? Drop a comment below.
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Builder’s journey is a neat game. The older Lego games haven’t aged well graphically and gameplay wise, but they sure do have a heck of a ton of character and Lego flare. It is a bit unfortunate how Lego doesn’t acknowledge those games they made before the movie licenses took over.
Maybe they’re embarrassed about them since they are a reminder of the days when they were close to bankruptcy and trying all sorts of things without much success. Now that they’ve gobbled up licenses as you say, and make parodic products revolving around those licenses, most of which have been successful, Lego definitely has taken the profit first approach instead of giving genuine creative building gameplay.
I loved Lego Racers on the N64!