ʀᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ: LEGO Tower
LEGO Tower is packed with details that will appeal to serious LEGO fans, but is it worth playing? Let’s find out!
You begin the game with a fair amount of coins and ‘biz’ which allows you to quickly build a few stories and get your economy started. You will quickly run out of money, leaving you with three options before expanding your tower: deliver guests to the right floor and you will be rewarded in coins or bux, wait to earn income from your shops and daily rent from your residents, or pay real money to get in-game bux. ($2 USD for 5000 bux.)
When you have enough money, you can build a new floor of your tower, and decide what type of floor to build. Residential floors earn daily rent, and residents are needed to stock items in your shops. The five other floor types (Food, Recreation, Service, Retail, Creative) work the same way – staff shops with residents to stock items and earn money every minute until the item runs out of stock.
In addition to building additional towers, You can optimize each of your floors in a couple different ways. The first way is by getting the best renters you can. Some residents pay a lot more rent than others, and even more importantly each resident has a dream job. If you can give them their dream job, they pay triple rent and double the capacity of one good in the associated store. These are pretty big optimizations, so I have found that it makes sense to evict residence which pay low rent and don’t match up with the jobs available in your tower.
Another optimization that is hidden behind a paywall is the ability to pick which shop is built when you add a story to your building. This can be really helpful, since you can build the shop that matches your high-rent residents. That ability is part of the “Tower Club” which gives you a bunch of other artificial benefits – automated elevator delivery, discounts on upgrades, and some exclusive content. It costs 2$ for 5 days. I’m not willing to pay for these benefits, but find the game developers attempts to manipulate players into paying for these upgrades fascinating from a behavioral economics perspective.
While games like this lack a clear way to ‘win’, it looks like you earn a “gold brick” when your tower reaches 50 stories, which I believe is the maximum height for your tower. After that, you can continue making money, or you can start a new tower while retaining your money and clothing rewards.
Packed with LEGO Details
Up to this point, we haven’t talked much about what makes this is a LEGO game. I’m pleased to report that the game does a great job of capturing the feel of the LEGO brand, and the joy of an game environment that’s built out of LEGO bricks.
Each floor is expertly designed using real LEGO elements, and there is a ton of diversity in terms of themes and building styles. Many of the floors are convention-worthy creations that are clearly designed by experts familiar with historic architectural styles, the LEGO parts library, and the quirky selection of colors which LEGO parts are made in.
Your tower is occupied by LEGO minifigures that walk, wave, dance, and play in the various floors. This leads to my only serious complaint of how LEGO is used within the game-I would love to see the Minifigures interacting with the unique features of certain floors, such as playing the games in the arcade or climbing the walls of the beautifully designed rock climbing gym.
Everything in the game including the menus and iconography is based on real LEGO pieces. In addition to the core gameplay around earning money and buying additional floors for your tower, you can re-decorate the top or bottom floors with excellent brick-built homages to real LEGO sets, and build vehicles which appear on the bottom floor of your tower from time to time. Lastly, you can collect minifigure “pieces” which can be used to customize the minifigures living in your tower.
I want to be clear, the ‘game’ offers limited strategic decision making and constantly tries to convince you to spend real money to improve your virtual LEGO tower. Simulation games like this offer limited strategic decisionmaking—it’ s fair to call them a waste of time.
That said, all of this is carefully crafted by artists who clearly love and understand LEGO products and respect the brand’s heritage. Serious LEGO enthusiasts will find that the game has lots of well designed models to enjoy, thoughtful nods to popular LEGO themes, and can be played very casually if you only want to devote a few minutes a day to restocking floors and hiring workers.
If you don’t mind wasting time with a frivolous game, you might enjoy playing for a few weeks as I have. That said, I would not recommend it for children, as the gameplay is packed with addictive interaction design choices causing kids to become frustrated and want to pay to unlock the premium features. Despite the good use of LEGO elements throughout the game design, it barely earns Brick Architect’s Acceptable (2/5 star) rating.
In closing, the game does a great job of capturing the joy of the LEGO brick throughout the game art and visual design. Sadly, the actually gameplay is a bit boring—it’s a carefully designed experience which works really hard to frustrate players into paying money to unlock the Tower Club benefits or buy more ‘bux’.