Hogwarts Legacy Review: Slow Times at Wizard High

There has been a lot of opinion bandied about regarding Hogwarts Legacy, which makes its cross-platform debut on 10th February 2023.

Much of the discussion is not really about the game itself, but instead around the divisive creator of the Harry Potter world, J.K. Rowling. We bring the author up as her controversial comments regarding the game, and her profiting over its release, has divided the internet over whether it should be played.

While people have already likely made up their mind over whether they will or will not play Hogwarts Legacy because of Rowling’s recent rhetoric, here is our take on the situation, for what it matters.

For us, Harry Potter and its larger literary and cinematic universe has grown larger than its author, and is enjoyed in a myriad media by people the world over. As such, content created in the Wizarding World should not be tainted by the words of one author, regardless of how much she may stand to profit as a result of licensing.

To that end, we are choosing to review this game (on PS5) in spite of how divisive it may be, for the simple fact of our love of gaming.

Great expectations

Now that we have addressed the Rowling-shaped elephant in the room, let’s get into this Avalanche Studios-developed offering. The AAA RPG has a lot going for it, outside of leveraging a beloved piece of media, such as being able to fly around in a massive digital world, whether that be by beast or broom.

Those expecting a full-on Harry Potter experience, however, need to temper their expectations, as Hogwarts Legacy does not lean on any of that particular story. Instead, protagonists are thrust deep into a new secret found within the Hogwarts castle, along with taking on a growing goblin threat, not to mention entering the school as a newcomer in year five.

While we do appreciate that Hogwarts Legacy wants to tell its own story, we do think it could have learned a trick from the books/movies. Here we are of course talking about friends and enemies, where Harry Potter had Hermione, Ron, and Draco, your character does not really have that. There is a Professor Fig, who serves as your mentor, and a handful of NPCs who assist on quests now and then, but you very much feel like a one man wolf pack when playing this game.

As such, we would have liked to see something akin to 2021’s Guardians of the Galaxy game, which nailed ensemble gaming.

Rich in detail

One area we cannot fault the game on, is the sheer amount of things to see and areas to explore. The map is quite vast, and is not only limited to the castle and its surrounds. To that end, for completionists, Hogwarts Legacy will have plenty of offer, whether it be lore, odd tasks in and around the map, and cosmetics to earn.

The world is also immensely detailed, with plenty of nods to the source material, such as paintings moving and talking, suits of armour standing at attention when you pass, as well as many puzzles to complete in order to earn gold or more aesthetic elements.

Added to this are the environments and NPCs throughout the game, with each being richly detailed. This will compel players to actively walk around and explore every nook and cranny of this world. As for the look of characters, they’re all nuanced, and each pupil you encounter in the halls of the school are unique in terms of the design. We’re not just talking about the NPCs you interact with either.

Walls of dialogue

Now we need to talk (excuse the pun) about the most frustrating aspect of Hogwarts Legacy – all the dialogue. Interactions with NPCs, many of which are necessary, often involved at least a few mins of dialogue that you have to work through.

While this is manageable in the opening couple of stanzas of the game, especially as you are still coming to grips with the world around you, very quickly you’ll find yourself skipping these conversations, only worrying about the ones key to the main quests.

It reminds us acutely of playing through Horizon Forbidden West, where these walls of dialogue became a chore and really detracted from the flow of the game and stunts action a lot of the time. It also suffers from the same issue of grinding to complete quests, with X amount of tasks often needed before any progress can be made.

Again this is fine in the opening few hours of the game, but can get grating, especially for those who don’t enjoy those kinds of RPG experiences.

Crossing wands

What’s the fighting like? In a word, boring.

The battle system in the game is fairly straightforward, with a handful of spells/charms (fire-based ones mainly) dealing damage to enemies when engaged in combat. You also need to react against two types of attack, ones that can be blocked and countered, and ones that cannot not.

It is a system that many games, including the amazing God of War Ragnarok uses, but if you are looking for a challenge, even on the harder difficulties, you may be left wanting.

Here is where a student, or even faculty, antagonist would have been a great addition, as everyone at this version of Hogwarts is a little too chummy. We’re not saying students need to be at each throats the whole time, but every NPC in the game was unnervingly friendly. Perhaps things have changed since we went to high school?

That said, there are a few bigger bosses that will get the adrenaline going, but if you’re hoping that regular wand duels will get the job done, they simply won’t.

Final verdict

What we enjoyed far more though, was flying. Being able to mount a broom and start exploring areas aerially or weaving through buildings never gets old. The same goes for riding beasts, although actually getting one to cooperate is perhaps more rewarding.

It is moments like this that Hogwarts Legacy simply does not have enough of, and while the game itself is solid in its presentation, polished to a high sheen in terms of visuals, and cleverly referencing its source material, you are left wanting more.

Whether that comes in the form of higher stakes, or a steeper difficulty grade for your character, who is seemingly a natural at everything, it feels like you can play Hogwarts legacy in second or third gear most of the time.

While the two games are generations apart, Hogwarts Legacy feels like Rockstar’s Bully with magic powers thrown into the mix. The difference is that the latter was a lot more fun to play.




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