It’s easy to say that a game “made me feel like a kid again,” but I don’t think that’s ever been more true than when I fired up Lego Dimensions for the first time. From building with Legos to being reunited with virtual friends I haven’t seen in ages, it was a magical trip down memory lane.
I am what you might classify as a “grown-ass man.” Despite that fact, many of my peers view my hobbies as kids’ stuff. I watch cartoons, read comics and play video games; activities that society has not yet fully embraced for their entertainment value beyond the teenage years. I’m not here to debate how wrong those people are, though I assure you that they are very wrong.
But despite the fact that Lego Dimensions pulls all three of those interests mentioned above into a single package, I previously found myself falling into the same camp as those peers I also just referenced. When it comes to these “toys to life” games, I’ve always viewed them as something primarily geared at a younger crowd, not sophisticated 30-somethings like me.
From Skylanders to Disney Infinity, I appreciated the idea of having physical toys and models appear in game worlds, but they never really looked like my cup of tea. Or, at least that’s what I kept telling myself. I typically love a good platformer and enjoy games that let me experiment within sandbox worlds and, by all accounts, all of these toys to life games delivered the goods in those departments. In truth, after a life of collecting things, I think I feared the monster a game like Lego Dimensions might turn me into. I knew I would want all of the things, so maybe a part of my mind convinced me that these were “kids’ games” in order to protect myself.
Whatever the reason, I’ve managed to stay away from all of that nonsense. Until recently, that is.
We were recently provided a core set for Lego Dimensions in preparation for a review of the Wave 4 expansions (still in progress). When I opened the box and peered inside, I remember thinking to myself, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?”
I was something of a Lego fiend growing up, but less like the merry band of heroes in The Lego Movie and more like Lord Business. No matter how complex the Lego set, I would fly through building it in a single afternoon, admire my work, then carefully place the completed set in a large storage bin where it would remain safe and pristine. I barely “played” with my Legos, but building them was always a delight.
When I lifted Lego Dimensions out of the delivery box and heard that familiar tinkling of little plastic pieces tumbling together, I felt some dormant emotions start to stir within me. I’m sure that sounds cheesy as hell, but it really did feel like I was being reintroduced to an old friend I had not seen in a couple of decades.
My girlfriend, Jenn, was equally excited. We made a whole night out of our first forray to the game, clearing away space on the table to build the portal and trio of starting figures (Batman, Gandalf, Wildstyle) together. We flipped through the instructions one page at a time, those same familiar illustrated directions from back in the day guiding us through the process. It was great feeling the Legos click into place as the pieces became a whole and, at last, we were ready to play the game.
Once we jumped into Lego Dimensions, the nostalgia continued to flow. I haven’t actually played a Lego game in years either, so it was just as refreshing being reintroduced to the series’ unique blend of humor and puzzle solving.
And then the familiar faces and locations started showing up. I haven’t watched The Wizard of Oz in a very long time and I stopped keeping up to date on The Simpsons at the turn of the century. Within the first hour of play I was dropped into both of those worlds, and visiting them felt just as much like putting on a favorite old sweater as playing with the Legos themselves.
And that was just the tip of the ice burg. I don’t want to dive too deeply into spoiler territory, but every level we’ve visited so far has been one nostalgia trip after another, each one mixing characters and references to other properties that are delightful to see interact. Baddies from The Lord of the Rings might appear in a familiar city from the DC universe while The Joker might decide to take a trip to Springfield. The best way to describe Lego Dimensions is an amalgam of all those “what if” conversations like-minded nerds like to get into from time to time.
There’s a metric ton of stuff left for Jenn and I to discover, so I expect we’ll be plugging away at Lego Dimensions for quite some time. And while I may have been wrong about whether or not adults can enjoy these toys to life games, I was at least right about one thing: This game has turned me into a monster. We’re already plotting which expansions we want to get next, just as eager to build the Lego sets as we are to see the characters come to life within the game.