The Lego video game universe is an ever expanding one, and the latest venture from TT Games, Lego Worlds, lets us explore Lego planets in Lego Galaxies, providing a different flavour to what we've seen in previous Lego games. Instead of a themed narrative to follow, we get to exercise our creative muscles and build and shape the world around us, and it seems blindingly obvious, to combine the sandbox genre with the world of Lego, when you stop to think about it.
The premise for Lego Worlds is simple: you explore a sandbox world to collect Gold Bricks, and these help fuel your spaceship so you can continue your journey and discover new worlds, the end goal of all of this being to become a Master Builder. Lego Worlds draws on different aspects of the physical toys for inspiration, making the game feel more like a virtual creator than its predecessors, where every brick can be manipulated to the will of the player. It's incredibly well stylised and makes every procedurally generated area look like it's been painstakingly crafted by hand from Lego, something that fans of both the toys and the games will no doubt appreciate.
The first few planets you'll visit act as your tutorial, where NPCs give you instructions for items, structures, or basic puzzles, all while telling you how to use the tools you'll need to use to complete the quests. All the usual character movements are there, but with one notable addition: the ability to free climb. This introduces a new way to traverse the world, and makes getting out of holes and scaling mountains much easier (you wouldn't want to create a massive crater and be stuck in it, after all).
Certain parts of the game are narrated, including the tutorial, which helps to gently guide you at the beginning, but unfortunately the NPC voices are kept to a minimum of grunts and noises, which spoils the interaction a little, and it seems like a step backwards considering the recent use of voice acting in Lego games. In terms of music, however, the player is treated to a wonderful soundtrack provided by orchestral pieces that match the areas you visit, adding so much character to the game and giving a real sense of adventure to it.
After just three short tutorials the reins are handed over, and you're then free to play the game as you wish, and this is where your search for the essential Gold Bricks really begins. The starting worlds contain just a couple of areas (or biomes) for you to explore, containing certain characters, flora, fauna, and vehicles for you to interact with, and as you continue on your travels, these biomes become more varied and complex. Discovering villages and towns, however, won't happen until you reach much larger planets, but this comes with its own issue - draw distance. Sometimes the draw distance was noticeably poor, and in bigger worlds it was sometimes unclear whether you'd reached the world's edge or just the limits of draw distance.
Talking to characters in these worlds can activate certain quests that can range from simply finding items or collecting animals, to more complex building and painting challenges, and being successful might earn you a Gold Brick for your troubles. Another way to obtain these gold bricks is to stop the cheeky Troublemakers who run around carrying random brick pieces. If you find one of these guys carrying a Gold Brick, you have to bring him to the ground with a well timed tackle and the brick is yours.
The final way to add more Gold fuel to your ship is from the massive amount of large treasure chests dotted around the worlds, which will either give you Gold Bricks or items and weapons to complete challenges. Many of the chests are found deep in underground caverns, however, so using your Landscape Tool is an ideal way of reaching these. This tool can be used in a variety of ways, too, such as adding and removing sections of blocks, raising or lowering the ground level, and even smoothing out the area ready for your new build.
All of the quests and chests are nicely visible through huge beams of light that descend from the sky as well, making locating them fairly simple. What this also means is that it won't take too long to collect the 100 Gold Bricks needed to unlock the largest worlds, as well as the ability to create your own worlds from scratch, nor will it be too much of an arduous grind.