LEGO Dimensions is showing at PAX Prime this weekend. I was able to play through a shortened demo of the Portal section of the game. 

This was my first chance to experience gameplay with the LEGO figures and the Toy Pad. As we already knew, there were six spots on the Toy Pad where characters could be placed. Each spot was lit up with a glowing, colored light so you would know where to put the figures.

You can play through any portion of LEGO Dimensions with any character, but Wyldstyle, Gandalf, and Batman will all be necessary for completing certain puzzles and the story portion of the game.

So for our Portal playthrough, I started off with Chell, though the first puzzle we encountered required me to switch to Wyldstyle. A pictogram that popped up showed me that I needed to move her to the part of the Toy Pad that was flashing pink, which activated a ramp. Tapping the Batmobile on the Toy Pad summoned my trusty vehicle, which I drove off the ramp and through a portal.

Most of the interactions you have with the Toy Pad are motivated by these pictograms. I found them a little hard to parse.

The next stage of the demo introduced the jumping through portals, AKA, the reason we’re here! There were three portals opened in the room, each corresponding with a color on the Toy Pad. To go through a portal, I had to move my character to that part of the Toy Pad. Then poof! Portal, LEGO-style.

Over the course of the demo, I got to see pretty much everyone’s special powers, with the exception of Batman. Sorry, buddy! Gandalf was used a couple of times to levitate and move objects.

The rest of the puzzles were pretty interesting and all involved moving characters from different colored spots on the Toy Pad and navigating through obstacles in the game. Interaction with the Toy Pad cropped up over and over again, and I imagine we’ll see different justifications for it in each section of the game.

How do I feel about this? At least in this portion of the game, LEGO Dimensions takes a slower pace than something like Skylanders: Trap Team. That’s not a bad thing. There was a lot of running around and tinkering with puzzles, interspersed with smashing things to get coins (classic LEGO gameplay, natch).

Again, this was for a level based on Portal, which is a running-around-solving-puzzles kind of game. I did find it more immersive than the story mode of Disney Infinity Marvel Super Heroes, which is about running around and punching things.

LEGO Dimensions will have 14 different worlds, all with numerous levels. I saw levels one and five of the Portal section.

That’s not a bad amount of gameplay, and it was definitely fun. The question I keep coming back to is, will it be worth $99? LEGOs aren’t cheap toys. I understand the price point.

Toys like this that bridge the gap between digital and physical are going to keep being really important. It’s not about staying fresh ‘n’ cool as much as it’s about finding new ways to engage kids, who are more savvy than ever with their tech use.

For me, I think it will come down to how the rest of the worlds in LEGO Dimensions are handled. LEGO Dimensions was fun, funny, and really cute. But so far it hasn’t felt like something I would replay. If this means investing in more and more expansion levels to keep the fun alive—well, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The gameplay had a lot in common with the previous LEGO games, minus all the new interactions with the Toy Pad. It’s pretty safe to say that if you enjoy the LEGO games, LEGO Dimensions will not disappoint you. If the LEGO games aren’t your jam, then the added complication of the Toy Pad will probably frustrate more than delight.

Me, I’m waiting until I can see the rest of the LEGO worlds in action.

LEGO Dimensions comes out on September 27 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U.

This article was written by

Simone de Rochefort is a game journalist, writer, podcast host, and video producer who does a prolific amount of Stuff. You can find her on Twitter @doomquasar, and hear her weekly on tech podcast Rocket, as well as Pixelkin's Gaming With the Moms podcast. With Pixelkin she produces video content and devotes herself to Skylanders with terrifying abandon.