During the 2000’s era, movie tie-in games were a dime a dozen. The general consensus was that these titles were nothing more than grubby little cash grabs, and for the most part—it was true. While the Harry Potter series did have some decent tie-ins, like the Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban on PlayStation 2, as well as the beloved LEGO Harry Potter: The Collection, fans have been clamouring for a next-gen, open-world adventure where players can fully immerse themselves into the world of witchcraft and wizardry. After all the hype surrounding Hogwarts Legacy, I’m happy to say that this is THE Harry Potter-based game us mudbloods have always wanted.
Yer a Wizard, Barry!
Whether it’s completely crushing classmates with Levioso in a school duel, or using Accio to troll roll others in magical lawn bowls, the academy is jam-packed full of content, locations and lore that Harry Potter fans can drool over like Fluffy from the Philosopher’s Stone. Exploring Hogwarts, the grounds and its surrounding areas is a joy to behold with your fully customisable avatar, especially when riding around sky-high on a broomstick. Never have these areas been realised in such scope and detail, as the visuals flesh out parts of the Harry Potter universe that even the original eight films didn’t explore.
The story and characters are pretty decent—a thousand times better than Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, goodness gracious—but they ultimately don’t quite live up to the original series. It goes for a fairly straightforward ‘good versus evil’ plot, though the narrative does just enough to keep the audience intrigued. The voice-acting is also pretty great too, bringing each character to life with that distinct, Harry Potter-themed writing which nails the tone and vernacular of JK Rowling’s books. Although, a handful of characters sound absolutely nothing like how their character looks… Once you take notice, it’ll definitely raise a few question marks. That’s for sure.
Moving through Hogwarts is pretty effortless, featuring plenty of fast-travel spots and a waypoint system similar to Dead Space that literally guides players to their destination. Especially helpful for quests located on specific floors. Honestly, without said system, I’d be running around like a headless chook (or Nagini, in this case). Even though this game isn’t the most technically or graphically impressive title by a country mile, with inconsistent frame rates, wonky lighting, loading gates/doors and funny glitches on PC which almost always occur in the Hufflepuff dorm, the extracurricular activities, John Williams-inspired music and action RPG combat more than make up for these shortcomings.
Can I Get a Flipendo on My Nintendo?
Combining spells which players can combo between is highly addictive, whilst being able to modify cast effects, utilise destructible objects and bust out a devastating limit break spell makes this battle system so enjoyable. Having such a unique arsenal of spells and functions that can junction together with grace is brilliant, as it’s a major reason why the combat systems in Devil May Cry and God of War flow together so well. To encourage the use of these abilities, certain sorcerers will protect themselves with a particular colour of Protego, forcing players to employ their full toolkit and familiarise themselves with their distinct effects. Players can even expand the number of spell shortcut slots over time, so they don’t need to keep swapping out their ever-growing magical repertoire.
When enemies are about to attack, a yellow ring will display indicating that the player can use Protego to defend. Holding the defend button after a block will automatically cast Stupefy, stunning the opponent and leaving them vulnerable to massive damage. This may sound overpowered, but some attacks are tricky to guard, while others have to be dodge-rolled away from, making most encounters feel like a back-and-forth ballroom dance of sorts. That being said, the lack of enemy variety and damage sponginess on hard mode does grow weary throughout. There are only so many times you can fight the same giant sword guy over and over before it starts to get stale. That’s why diversity is king when it comes to combat, as variation overtly forces players to stay on their toes.
Like most other modern action RPG games, Hogwarts Legacy lets players alter their equipment. Some gear makes the avatar look like an absolute tool, but the handy transmogrify option lets fans preserve the iconic school robes without any garish garments getting in the way. In addition, the stat upgrades and effects are easy breezy to understand and compare, with simple strength/defence boosts and perks that players can apply without much difficulty. Same goes for the health and stat potions too—it’s all very straightforward. I’ve really come to appreciate more simplified traditional RPG mechanics over time. Because as much as I loved playing through Tactics Ogre: Reborn, constantly having to micro-manage resources after each and every encounter became a royal pain.
While Hogwarts Legacy features many cliche open-world staples, the magical school setting and spell-based combat somehow make these tropes refreshing. Dishing out several spells in one combo looks and feels awesome, as the game regularly encourages players to experiment with their expansive arsenal of incantations and use of destructible objects to their advantage. Exploring Hogwarts and its surrounding areas is also a sight to behold. Even if the graphics and technical issues hold it back somewhat, the level of artistic detail and design put into the world design is top-notch. If only the same amount of care was applied to the story and characters, would this game be sitting in the upper echelons of action RPG Hall of Famers. However, what we’re left with is still a mighty impressive experience, one that Harry Potter fans will be savouring for a long time to come.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on PC
It may be quite shocking to hear this, but Hogwarts Legacy isn’t just a cheap tie-in game that some salty sceptics thought it’d be. Whether it’s the rich spell-based action, fun schoolyard activities or sky-high exploration of Hogwarts, fans of Harry Potter will certainly find something to enjoy here. While the story and characters aren’t as memorable as the original series, the attention to detail and gameplay variance are remarkable. Now go and find ye olde Sorting Hat—before it’s too late!
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.