Lego Legends of Chima: Laval's Journey

By mining as many iconic franchises as possible - Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, DC Comics, and so on - the Lego series has become a firm favourite among nerdy film fans, parents, and kids alike.

But, as entertaining as those games are, the franchise hasn't moved on very far from the template it laid down with the very first Lego Star Wars title.

The same is true of Lego Legends of Chima: Laval's Journey, only this time there's no familiar, heartwarming brand to distract you from the increasingly tired puzzle-platforming gameplay.

Pronounced: "chee-mah"

If you've played a Lego game before then you'll know exactly what to expect from Laval's Journey. You control a single character at a time from a cast of many, but you can (and must) swap between them to use their special abilities in solving environmental puzzles.

Main character Laval has a deafening roar, for example, that can clear obstacles. His eagle pal, meanwhile, can soar over great chasms that are too wide for Laval to get across. It's not particularly taxing stuff, and the game practically points out what you should be doing at certain points. But this is family-friendly fun pitched at a wide audience.

Equally as easygoing is the platforming and fighting. When you're not figuring out how to move forward in this colour-filled, tribalistic 3D world you're smacking enemies about with your sword in repetitive button-mashing combat. After foes are vanquished, you leap from one platform to another, wall jump, swing on vines, and tightrope walk across ravines.

But any element of danger is absent as it's impossible to fail a stage, and "dying" only loses you a few of the studs you picked up along the way. Everything about the gameplay - its level of challenge, its integration into the story, the actual process of executing moves - is simplistic.

A thorn in the paw

The single biggest issue, though, is the unfamiliar and uninteresting narrative backdrop.

Without the fun of spotting all of the in-jokes from the various Indiana Jones movies, or wowing at the surprisingly decent recreation of Mordor, or chuckling at the what-if situation of Han Solo running about during the battle of Naboo, the familiar and largely unchanging gameplay is increasingly difficult to ignore.

Younger hearts, minds, and hands will probably enjoy the chance to play with the (I gather quite successful) Chima characters, but the older siblings or parents playing along with them will find the Saturday morning action cartoon voice-acting totally juvenile.

Which is, of course, totally at odds with the strength of the series: bringing together multiple generations of players in a shared love of a universe through the power of video games.

It's not a terrible game to actually play - it looks nice enough, it handles well, and the gameplay is fine - but the lack of an established world puts in sharp relief the unfortunate fact that the Lego series hasn't really changed in over eight years, and it's starting to become really obvious.

Lego Legends of Chima: Laval's Journey

Your standard Lego game, only without the big name licence to carry you through the dull bits. Kids will still enjoy the simple gameplay, but their parents? Not so much
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.