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Who Is LEGO Horizon Adventures For?

After weeks of internet rumours, Sony’s unusual new game was finally made official at Summer Game Fest 2024: LEGO Horizon Adventures. Built brick-by-brick by main Horizon developer Guerilla in collaboration with Studio Gobo, it looks to be exactly what you’d expect from a LEGO tie-in: bright, charming, goofy, and full of things to smash and studs to collect. That’s been a recipe for success multiple times over for LEGO, but this time around I’m not so sure. Who exactly is LEGO Horizon Adventures for?

This isn’t LEGO’s first foray into the Horizon universe. The Danish toy company’s fantastic Tallneck kit, based on Horizon’s giraffe-like walking towers, is an almost 14-inch tall behemoth made of 1,222 pieces. If the brick count didn’t give it away, the recommended age for this model is 18+. In the physical world, LEGO Horizon has been aimed at adults because it’s adults who play the video game series. But one look at LEGO Horizon Adventures and it’s clear this isn’t anywhere close to the type of experience we’ve had with the two mainline Horizon games so far. For existing fans who are already chomping at the brick for a new game, this likely isn’t what they were hoping for.

While I didn’t expect LEGO Horizon Adventures to simply be a full-fat Horizon game with a LEGO aesthetic, I am surprised that the trailer shows very little of what I’d consider to be the series’ core DNA. Horizon is all about tactically tearing apart robot dinosaurs and animals. Thunderjaw wrecking your day? Blast off its missile launchers. Struggling with a Snapmaw? Snipe its freeze sac. Each machine is built of components that can be broken and shattered, an idea that would surely translate beautifully into snapping and scattering Lego pieces. And yet the trailer suggests that combat in LEGO Horizon Adventures will be similar to prior LEGO games of the Star Wars and Marvel varieties – give something a good, simple boop on the head and they’ll break apart. I’m not sure how satisfying this is going to be for long-term fans.

And so the answer is obvious, isn’t it? LEGO Horizon Adventures is for children. This is a PlayStation Studios game being released for Nintendo Switch, afterall. But I’m not sure it’s that easy. LEGO games have been so successful with children because they’ve historically adapted licences that kids already love. As a pre-teen during the prequel era of Star Wars I loved the tie-in LEGO kits, and so the subsequent LEGO Star Wars video games were a no-brainer. But Horizon isn’t already beloved by kids in its original or LEGO form. And while my six-year-old nephew is as dinosaur obsessed as any kid his age, I don’t think an armour-plated t-rex is going to be a guaranteed magnet. He’d go wild for a new LEGO Jurassic World game, though, not least because there’s already age-appropriate LEGO kits he can play with.

So who is LEGO Horizon Adventures for? I think it’s for gamer families. It’s for parents who spend dozens and dozens of hours playing Horizon on PS5 after they’ve put their kids to bed, and who now want to introduce that world to their sons and daughters. The ingredients are all there: as detailed by the PlayStation Blog, LEGO Horizon Adventures is a light-hearted retelling of Aloy’s original story, playable completely in co-op. It’s a way for an older gamer to share something they love with a kid who’s not quite ready for something as intense and complex as the full-scale Horizon games.

That’s what I imagine the boardroom pitch was, anyway. And while I hope that LEGO Horizon Adventures finds its place, I think that place is going to be a much narrower niche than would be ideal for Sony. For the parent or older sibling in the co-op pairing, I wonder if LEGO Horizon Adventures will be able to translate all the things they love about the original games. Will the combat – the beating heart of Horizon – be good enough? Will turning the complex Aloy, with all her doubts and troubles and inner-fight, into a cartoon character be satisfying? And for the child with the other controller, will this bright new world of machines, hot dogs, and (presumably) a message of environmental protection prove alluring enough to pull them away from more established characters and the likes of Roblox? I fear that the sweet spot for both players will be slim.

Historically, the LEGO pipeline has taken movies families love, turned them into physical LEGO kits they can build together, and then reimagined those kits as worlds that can be explored through video games. LEGO Horizon Adventures disrupts that pipeline by being a family game inspired by a LEGO kit for adults that was adapted from a video game for more advanced players. And so while I really do hope it’s a co-op delight, I can’t help but wonder if LEGO Horizon Adventures is built on shaky foundations.

Matt Purslow is IGN's Senior Features Editor.

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