Kid-Friendly Review Series – The LEGO Movie Videogame

Game reviewed on Xbox One

The Kid-Friendly Review Series is a bit different than our usual reviews in that they are all-encompassing instead of our usual focused reviews. Because of this, nothing will be scored, as I am not comfortable rating features I don’t rely on. Instead, I will simply note potential problem areas and leave it for parents to decide for themselves if the game is playable for their child.

I’ve spent the last two days playing the catalog of LEGO games and as someone who doesn’t usually enjoy kiddie-type games, the entire series has been a surprising delight to play. They’re funny, fun, easy enough to just pick up and play, and the series has enough similar mechanics that while each LEGO game will feel new, they will also feel familiar enough to not have too much of a learning curve for young players.

I won’t give you much of the story of this game (because I can’t because I didn’t see the movie and I haven’t played enough of the game to actually understand any of the plot) but I can say that it’s a game both kids and adults could enjoy. It’s definitely a game made for kids but there’s enough oh, haha, I see what you did there humor throughout to keep even cranky old souls such as myself chuckling.

Accessibility wise though, there are some major hits and some equally big misses.

Deaf/hoh Accessibility

The LEGO Movie Videogame is, I think, the first game I can ever recall turning subtitles off because they actually get in the way of seeing gameplay.

Illustrating in-game subtitles being large and too close to the center of the screen.

I’m so conflicted about these subtitles. I’ve said about 8000 times that subtitles need to be in a legible font and big enough to read comfortably. These certainly are that. They’re also right there in the center of the screen, blocking the players natural line of sight. While the subtitles are nice and large, there are still no scaling options, so it’s this or nothing at all, which is unfortunate.

Cinematic illustrating too much text on the screen at once.

There were also several instances of there being far too much text on the screen at once, which will be especially problematic for young players who rely on subtitles that won’t likely read as fast as I could in these scenes.

Cognitive Accessibility

LEGO piece selection screen.

When it comes to cognitive accessibility, all LEGO games do quite well. I will admit that there has never been a puzzle in a game that I did not just Google before even attempting to do on my own. I have constant lupus brain fog and all of my brain power gets devoted to my job. I have no time or patience to be bad at puzzles. The LEGO Movie Videogame is the first game I’ve played that I haven’t done this for. Everything is so nicely explained, even the many instances of, “Find a way to do X thing.” Gameplay was simple and intuitive enough that figuring these things out went exactly how I thought it should. The UI is also wonderfully designed and incredibly helpful. Every important or actionable thing in the game is very clearly illustrated.

Unfortunately, the save system is checkpoint based, so those who need on-demand saving will be disappointed and will lose progress should they have to quit before reaching a checkpoint.

Motor Accessibility

The area in which The LEGO Movie Videogame will fail many players is in motor accessibility. While there are no complicated, multi-button mechanics, controls are not remappable on console and nearly every mechanic is either a button hold or repeated tapping.

Illustrating the required button hold mechanics.

Throughout the game, players will have to press and hold a button to achieve required bits of the story, such as the scene shown above in which you have to hold X to use your drill and demolish a house. Those not able to do this will be left unable to complete the level and unable to progress in the game.

There are also a few minigames presented in QTE style that have no option to skip or change speed or difficulty. Some of these minigames are rhythm based while others are based on proper timing.

Illustrating the rhythm based minigame.
Illustrating the timing based minigame.

Blind/low-Vision Accessibility

Low-vision players should have an easier time with the subtitles and UI than in most games. The design is bold and chunky (for lack of a better word) with contrasting colors, as are the subtitles. Where low-vision players may struggle is in the game world itself. There’s just so much stuff and it’s so small (think dozens of those tiny one square size LEGOs scattered all around). These small collectible bits also frequently disappear after a set amount of time, so anyone not able to locate them quickly and easily will miss out on the collection of these bits.

All in all, The LEGO Movie Videogame is a delightful game that may leave some disabled kids feeling not-so-great due to many things being inaccessible.

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Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com