One of the scientists actually said the analogy was ‘not unlike’ the example of lightsabers but goes on to say it’s nothing like it.
And, they are talking about pumping single photons to get these ‘semi’ interactions — it’s more due to energy level exchanges to the atoms in the vacuum medium rather then the photons ‘changing’ themselves. While it would be cool to think they have made ‘solid light’, they have only shown that photons CAN be made to behave ‘like’ it is not massless — not that they have changed the photons or light’s intrinsic nature. A long way from making solid beams of zappiness. But, for pushing the science of light and energy, cool all the same.