As England braces itself for another lockdown of an indeterminate length, many people may be faced with the same bleak feelings of despair and anxiety that accompanied them throughout most of 2020. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of wake up, eat, work, sleep, repeat, all without actually feeling like we’ve accomplished anything with our day. Enter the LEGO games.
Simple Mechanics With A Complex Charm
At its heart, every LEGO game is essentially the same. Well, after about the 2005 mark when LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game was released. The licensed series of LEGO games all follow the same general gameplay formula: They drop you into a lovingly recreated world of a popular movie franchise and task you with playing through the story of the film(s). Each level will throw various obstacles at you ranging from generic goons that you need to beat up to light puzzle-solving and platforming elements. And while each game has its unique flavour of gameplay mechanics, none stray too far from the formula that was perfected over a decade ago. It is this simple gameplay formula that makes the LEGO games mesh so perfectly with the current social climate.
Simply put, not everyone wants to play a complex, mechanic-rich game right now. As the world seemingly crumbles around us and countless thoughts flash in and out of our brains at unrelenting speeds, the last thing many people want to do is remember what button correlates to a Venom Punch. Instead, many of us are just looking to sit back and play something mindless for a bit. A game in which all you have to do is press square whenever an enemy appears and press “X” whenever a platform appears.
What sets the LEGO games apart from other simple arcade-style side-scrollers or beat-em-ups is their inherent charm. The intense feelings of joy I had in 2005 upon seeing my favourite Star Wars characters in cutesy LEGO form fighting one another is still just as prevalent today, if not even more so. As the world seems to get darker around me, these LEGO games have offered a ray of joyous light. It may sound silly, but spending a few hours in a game world that is so unbelievably low-risk can really help to destress you after a rough day, especially when one of the main mechanics of the game is to break as much of the environment as you can.
The Power of Nostalgia and Familiarity
This pandemic has brought out just about every emotion possible in many people. If you’re like me, then you’ll have spent the better part of last year clinging on to things that are familiar and safe, especially when it comes to consuming media. I stuck to classic films of my childhood like The Rugrats Movie (1998) and Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. I got out my old Star Wars toys and plugged my PS2 back in. When the future looked so unclear, I found solace in the past.
The LEGO games thrive on feelings of nostalgia and familiarity. No matter your preferred franchise, LEGO has a game for you. From Harry Potter to Jurassic World, Batman to The Avengers, LEGO is prepared to fuel your nostalgia with family-friendly games that transport you to playground versions of iconic movie locations. Nothing really beats that fuzzy warmth you get when you run around LEGO Hogwarts or start a fight in the LEGO Cantina for the first time.
If there’s one thing that every modern LEGO game does well, it’s their steady and consistent sense of progression. Each LEGO game has its own series of collectables ranging from gold bricks to Minikits. These collectables are scattered throughout the game, with many hidden in plain sight but inaccessible until you progress further through the game and unlock more iconic characters. This is where the LEGO games’ genius lies.
Every second of gameplay in modern LEGO games takes you closer towards that 100% completion goal. Every stud you collect, every character you unlock, all of it serves as a way to consistently remind you that you are progressing and working your way towards something. This sense of progression is what many people may be lacking in their everyday life right now; while LEGO Marvel Super Heroes isn’t going to change your life, and LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 won’t cure your depression, they can definitely help you feel that same sense of accomplishment and steady progression that is so hard to find right now.
With LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga set for release in early 2021, there has never been a better time to get into the extensive back catalogue of LEGO games.
Words by Cameron Swan
Support The Indiependent
We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.