I’m a broken man: as I approach 36, I have compromised sight in one eye, a growing beer belly, a bad back, and all the enthusiasm of my youth sapped by concerns over rising mortgage rates and electricity bills. When I stare at my tired visage in the mirror, sometimes I wonder: “is there any joy left in life?”
Well, yes there is. Aside from a cool beer, a spicy curry and a good pun or two, nuggets of joy are still to be found in the year 2022. And one of them comes in the form of Lego Builder’s Journey on Apple Arcade.
While available on PC, PlayStation, Xbox and the Nintendo Switch, I feel the design and tactile nature of the Builder’s Journey lends itself well for touchscreen controls.
It’s a pretty basic puzzle game in which you aim to shift a variety of Lego bricks and pieces around to get one character (made up of Lego parts rather than a figurine) to another, across small arenas/platforms also constructed of recognizable Lego parts.
Overall, it's a fun and cerebral game to play on your commute, though the occasionally fiddly controls can make it a little tricky especially when you're in a train car that’s less than stable.
There’s also a creator mode, which lets you construct your own platform through what appear to be semi-randomly generated bricks and parts. And that’s about it; it’s gloriously simple.
But the real joy of Lego Builder’s Journey is in its presentation. A minimal user interface and a light atmospheric soundtrack practically screams Scandinavian design sensibilities, perfectly in sync with the clean presentation of Apple Arcade and iOS.
Even though it’s on other platforms, Builder’s Journey simply feels like a game made for the iPhone or iPad. And playing it on an iPhone 13 Pro, with that excellent OLED Super Retina XDR display really makes Builder’s Journey look awesome.
Such simplicity allows for the virtual Lego to take center stage, helped by some beautiful rendering and lighting. This was the Lego game I had in my head as a kid, but never materialized; I’m not so into the Star Wars or Harry Potter Lego games.
But the process of moving around pixel-perfect Lego captures that zen-like feeling of building something out of an assortment of parts, slowly entering a flow-like state as you start to construct what your mind’s eye has pictured. Add in some lovely sound effects that capture the treble tones of sifting through small Lego bricks and pieces, to the ‘snikkit’ of fixing a brick in place, and Builder’s Journey is less of a game and more a nostalgia hit for people ages 28 to 42.
I would love to developer Light Brick run with this and create a fully building-centric game that taps into the various Lego themes; personal favorites of my being the Space and Castle theme of yore.
But for now Lego Builder’s Journey is another must-try Apple Arcade game, especially if you want a panacea to your energy-sapping commute by tapping into some nostalgia-flavored digital escapism.
Next: If you miss Game of Thrones, check out Game of Thrones: Tale of Crows — a must-play game for your iPhone on Apple Arcade.