Hogwarts Legacy Review
Story And Setting
Visuals And Performance
This is easily one of the best Harry Potter games to date, if not the best one ever. It has a decent storyline which was augmented by interesting characters, a beautifully crafted world, and excellent combat.
- Developers: Avalanche Software
- Publishers: Warner Bros. Games
- Release Date: February 7, 2023
- Platforms: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X & Series S, Xbox One, and PC
- Excellent World-Building
- Expertly Crafted World
- Exceptional Combat
- Huge Variety of Spells
- Interesting Characters
- Lack of Enemy Variety
- Graphical And Performance Hiccups
Our Hogwarts Legacy review will tackle a new AAA open-world entry in the Harry Potter universe. This is, without a doubt, one of the most popular franchises of all time, yet there are barely any major AAA games based on it. It is a gold mine waiting to be exploited, but many developers seem to steer clear of it. Perhaps its popularity has been its bane, as the prospect itself can seem daunting to many.
But finally, after so long, Avalanche studios have taken up the task of satisfying our cravings of going back to Hogwarts, by creating a definitive Harry Potter game. But have they succeeded in this treacherous path, which many before them have shied away from undertaking, and does our journey to Hogwarts uphold the Legacy of this beloved franchise? The short answer is, Yes! This title definitely lives up to its hype. Let’s find out why in our review!
Story And Setting
The game acts as a prequel to both the Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts series since it is set in the 1800s. You join Hogwarts as a 5th-year student, which is pretty late when compared to your average wizard. But you are not some average wizard, you are a child prodigy, able to harness the power of ancient and powerful magic.
The game starts off with a character creation screen, which I found to be quite detailed and impressive. You can select your gender, complexion, hair style, eye color, and more. You can even choose your voice from a set of voices available. I spent a fair amount of time customizing my character and would have gladly spent more, but, since I had to judge all aspects of the game for this Hogwarts Legacy Review and not just the character creation section, I had to move on.
The opening scene kicks off with two fairly old and experienced individuals, one a Professor from Hogwarts and the other from the Ministry of Magic, accompanying you to the school on a flying carriage. As this is an unexplored era, everything about the wizarding world is shrouded in mystery and might seem initially daunting for your character. But fret not, as the two wizards that are accompanying you, give a little background to get you started. It is on this journey that you also learn about a Goblin rebellion, led by Ranrok, threatening the magical world.
We won’t spoil what happens from here, but let’s just say that the tutorial starts a bit after this point, as you make your way to the school. There are a number of gameplay sections here that familiarize you with the mechanics of the game, and it is also here that you start to realize that you possess some hidden powers, which are quite rare even among wizards.
After finally reaching Hogwarts, you attend the coveted sorting ceremony and are given the option to choose a house from the four available options: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff. And even though the Sorting Hat chooses a house for you, you can overrule its decision and choose the one that you want instead. And you’ll want to make an informed choice, as each house comes with its own sets of exclusive perks.
From here, your life as a student finally begins, while you are simultaneously entangled in a deadly conflict against the forces that threaten to tear the magical world apart. The main story is not ground-breaking, but it nicely complements the world that it is set in. The real stars are the multiple NPCs that you meet throughout your journey, and these range from your classmates to your professors, and even some other magical beings. Each of them have interesting tales to tell, and possess their own questlines to strengthen your relationship with them.
Legacy absolutely nails the atmosphere of Hogwarts, as you really feel like you are part of a school, with professors and students going about their own duties.
It reminded me of Rockstar Games Bully in this respect, which was an exceptional game of its time too. There is also significant lore and references from the books and previous Harry Potter games, so devoted fans of the series are in for a treat.
The game features a number of side quests, and although some are simple fetch quests or follow the boring combat-heavy format, there are some hidden gems here too. These usually reward you with gear upgrades or new spells. Some quests can also award you with simple cosmetics which can allow you to further customize your own witch and wizard.
That’s all about the story part of this section of our Hogwarts Legacy Review, and hence we now address the elephant in the room: Worldbuilding. It is my pleasure to report to you that the developers have knocked it out of the park when it comes to the open world.
From the picturesque architecture of Hogsmeade to the surreal atmosphere of the Forbidden Woods, each area is beautifully designed and is teeming with secrets and questlines. You can encounter the unique wildlife of the Harry Potter universe, along with beautiful structures including castles and dungeons, just begging to be explored. Even the school itself is interesting to simply wander around, with winding passages and secrets hidden around most corners. It is every fan’s dream come true, as this is by far the best recreation of Hogwarts in any Harry Potter game ever!
Perhaps my greatest fear for this game was the combat system because, unfortunately, we haven’t seen many good games with engaging magic gameplay. But my fears have all been put to rest, and yours should too because the combat here is phenomenal. Many fan-favorite spells from the books and movies also make a return, of which Wingardium Leviosa is a prime example. The spells can be used in conjunction with one another to create different combos and discover more exciting ways to send your adversaries packing.
Button-mashing your way through each enemy encounter is not possible as sometimes the fights can get really challenging. Instead, you’ll have to make use of your dodging and parrying, all the while experimenting with new spell combos. The huge variety of spells allows for experimentation so that you can figure out what suits you best, and you are also forced to change your strategy by using different spells as some enemies possess shields, with different colors, that can only be taken down with spells of the corresponding type.
An enemy with a red shield, for example, can only be countered by spells from the Damage Spells category. You can also exert environmental damage on your enemies by throwing them into crates and explosives. Combat is further diversified by allowing the use of potions, which can enhance your attributes or afflict area damage, to turn the tide of battle in your favor.
Although the variety in spells is huge, switching among them can be inefficient. As you progress, you unlock more and more spells, and you can only equip so much at the same time. Thus, equipping different spells to test them out can get cumbersome. Similarly, while the combat is fantastic, the enemy variety leaves a lot to be desired. This is ironic, considering the fact that the Harry Potter series is home to some of the most diverse races of mythical beasts and creatures in any fantasy franchise.
You’ll run into the same types of goblins, bandits, and evil wizards around the map numerous times, which can gradually become a slog to get through. The game still possesses its fair share of interesting boss battles scattered throughout the world, but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.
The flying broomstick also becomes available to you a couple of hours into the game. allowing you to traverse the beautiful land surrounding Hogwarts. Also, you can spawn it anywhere near the position you want! Unfortunately, the main attraction of flying, which is the sports Quidditch, is missing from the game, which I feel could have really benefited from the smooth broom traversal mechanics.
To replace Quidditch, another leisure activity is present here which can give you a nice break from the quests. This activity is in the shape of a fully-customization Room of Requirement. Just like the character creation, there are a plethora of options available here, and you can personalize the entire interior by adding decorations, paintings, mirrors, growing plants for brewing positions and even creating a small space for rare animals. It’s safe to say that the game is jam-packed with interesting stuff.
Visuals And Performance
If it wasn’t already apparent from the world-building aspects mentioned in the previous sections of our Hogwarts Legacy Review; the visuals are fantastic. While roaming around the halls of Hogwarts, or exploring different areas in its vicinity, it becomes clear that the developers have poured their heart and soul into this game, and strived to make it look as artistically close to the world depicted in the books and movies as possible.
The presentation is exceptionally well done too. The first view of Hogwarts, in the tutorial, begins with a little glimpse of the Hogwarts Express with the faint theme song from the film series. As the camera pans, the instruments get stronger, finally revealing the school in its full grandeur. This is perhaps one of the best and most nostalgia-inducing moment in the game.
There are, however, a number of technical issues plaguing the game. I ran into a number of framerate drops as I was exploring the world, and some loading screens can pop up pretty often as well. For example, a few loading screens while opening a door can take an annoyingly long period of time.
Apart from performance issues, there are also a number of graphical glitches present too. Stuff like asset pop-ins and lighting issues are rampant throughout the game. I also fell through the map a few times and got stuck in a few places which made a restart the only plausible solution. These technical hiccups really frustrated me sometimes, and it’s a shame, as they ruined my appreciation of the world.
And thus we reach the end of our Hogwarts Legacy Review, where we shall pass judgment on the game. This is easily one of the best Harry Potter games to date, if not the best one ever. It has a decent storyline which was augmented by interesting characters, a beautifully crafted world, and excellent combat.
It gets most things right, which a wizarding game should. And although the lack of enemy variety was baffling, and the graphical and performance glitches can somewhat sour the experience, the things it gets right do make up for it most of the time. For an avid Harry Potter fan like me, it was an exciting trip down memory lane, with the occasional technical bumps of course. I urge every one of you out there, even if you are not a Harry Potter fan, to try this out because this is one of the best games released this year and for sure a game-of-the-year contender.
This has been our Hogwarts Legacy Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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