Lego Builder’s Journey is a neat little puzzle game that apparently came out on Apple Arcade back in 2019, which is funny, because I had totally missed it until the recent announcement that it was being ported to Nintendo Switch and PC. I took one look at the thing and immediately downloaded it onto my phone to play, and I’m really glad I did, because it is one of my favourite little gaming experiences in recent memory.
A lot of people have compared Builder’s Journey to Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, probably because of the similarly cute bite-sized levels you’re given to conquer, and I got a lot of those same vibes, but they play very differently. Where Captain Toad is more about exploring these little levels and finding all the secrets they have to offer, Builder’s Journey leaves a lot of the specifics up to you – you see the beginning and end points of every level right away, but have to (literally) piece together a solution with the bricks that are at your disposal.
Something that surprised me about Builder’s Journey is how emotive it is. You have these two minimalist Lego characters (not even minifigs) that you follow throughout the game, and they never talk, but there are still flashes of emotion conveyed through cleverly animated movement and action. This cute little story is heavily complemented by the beautiful aesthetic, lighting, and serene soundscapes that accompany it. Everything clicks together just as perfectly as you’d expect for Lego bricks to – both metaphorically and literally.
There are only two things I dislike about this game. Firstly, there are the controls. The control scheme on iOS is relatively simple – you can move the camera around, pick up and move around pieces, and hold down your finger to click them into place. It works well enough for the most part, but sometimes I found it difficult to tell exactly where a piece was hovering, which resulted in me having to fiddle around to get it to click into the exact spot where I wanted it to go. I would’ve appreciated if there were some way to temporarily bring up a grid that highlights exactly where on the ground the piece in your hand is hovering above.
The second issue with Builder’s Journey is that it’s just so darn short! I don’t have a problem with short games, I actually love them. It’s really nice sometimes to experience something totally new that you can sit down and beat in an afternoon or evening, but Builder’s Journey is even more fleeting than that – only about an hour from start to finish. Thankfully, this is being addressed with the expanded version coming out June 22 on Apple Arcade, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
I wish I could get more deeply into the specifics of the story and gameplay to really drive home why I love this game so much, but to do so would be to spoil the many surprises Builder’s Journey has to offer, and I think that’s the best part of the whole thing. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I’d highly recommend picking up Lego Builder’s Journey. It may be short, but it’s definitely also sweet – every moment of the game is a highly enjoyable experience. It’s a perfect blend of challenging (but not too challenging) puzzles on bite-sized levels, a lovely little story that doesn’t get in your way, and beautiful visual design and music to pull everything together. This is easily one of my favourite gaming experiences in recent memory. The only caveat to my recommendation is that you wait until June 22 when the expanded version of the game comes out, else you’ll be anticipating it for the weeks to come after quickly exhausting the base game.
Lego Builder’s Journey is available now on Apple Arcade, and will be releasing on other platforms June 22 (Nintendo Switch/PC) with additional levels for $19.99USD or your regional equivalent. The additional levels will also come to the Apple Arcade version. The PC version of the game will feature ray tracing.