Originally released on mobile and then ported to PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox, Lego Builder’s Journey is now finally available on PlayStation consoles. Coming fresh off the heels of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, which successfully reinvigorated the platforming series, Light Brick Studio’s Builder’s Journey focuses purely on puzzles and narrative, giving players a more carefully constructed and much smaller-scale experience. While that sounds like another refreshing change of pace for Lego fans, it doesn’t quite live up to all of its potential.
Lego Builder’s Journey was praised during its original release for having a “touching” narrative, which is alluring because of its straightforward outward appearance. Given how well some of TT Games’ Lego titles are able to tell stories with the figures, the prospect of going on a more emotionally resonant journey built around human interest was exciting. However, perhaps due to its simplistic style or how little actually transpires over the course of the game, the emotional pull never comes. The takeaway of a kid missing his father that is away at work seemed all too basic with how it’s explored and any connection to what was transpiring on-screen fell flat as a result.
Thankfully, the actual puzzles tend to be much stronger and are reason enough to see the game through to its ending (which admittedly only takes two hours). The puzzles are typically about getting your character from one side of the screen to the other by moving two specific pieces that allow for movement, but there are a few different gimmicks introduced later on, such as spinning valves that can be turned and blocks that automatically replicate upon being placed in the environment, that complicate things. Creating pathways to traverse the varied dioramas can get a little tricky if players aren’t thinking ahead, which is where the solid puzzle design is at its best.
Beyond the forgettable story, the controls for the PlayStation 5 port are the biggest issue. Selecting objects isn’t too much of a hassle, since players can use the directional pad to quickly switch between selectable bricks, but placing them is another matter entirely. To properly navigate the 3D space, players regularly have to switch the camera angle with the right analog stick and it is difficult to move vertically rather than in and out. There is a slight lock-on that helps a lot, but it winds up being a far more cumbersome affair than it should be. It’s a reminder that this game was designed with touch controls in mind — one that could’ve been potentially replicated with the DualSense’s often-ignored touchpad — and console players aren’t getting the best playing experience because of those origins.
However, what PlayStation 5 owners are getting is a far better-looking version as Lego Builder’s Journey is one of the system’s most impressive displays of ray tracing (and one that will be made even better in an upcoming patch). While it doesn’t quite match the phenomenal reflections of the PC version, the simplistic visuals still look great on a 4K television with it truly looking like a Lego diorama due to the way light reflects off the building blocks. It’s not quite a game that you’ll bring in others to take a look at unless they’re also a geek for technical achievements, but it’s a look at how ray tracing can really spruce up an otherwise simplistic title. There is a catch, though, as the frame rate is limited to 30 frames per second when ray tracing is turned on, but considering this is a puzzle game and not an action title, the trade-off is easy to accept.
The Lego Builder’s Journey PS5 port keeps the whimsical charm of the base game, even if it’s not the best-looking or playing version of it. There is little replay value despite the inclusion of a relatively shallow creative mode and its story of a father and son coming together due to Legos can come across as shallow as the bricks themselves. However, die-hard Lego aficionados with no other way to experience it will still find the puzzles enjoyable and worth a breezy afternoon playthrough filled with a bunch of pretty, well-lit Lego pieces.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.