After years of waiting, I was able to receive my heart's desire last week—a truly massive Harry Potter title based on an original narrative. Hogwarts Legacy fans may instead follow their journey as a student at Hogwarts in some ways.
The open world design of Hogwarts Legacy is beautifully executed. From the perfectly polished Defense Against the Dark Arts Tower to the pleasant southern coastline, every bit of the castle and its world was carefully created.
Honeyduke Treats included occasional nods to obscure Wizarding World legends and the whimsical spirit of the franchise itself. Even when I couldn't remember, talking about the details with others was like playing in my teens.
If I could give this section a six out of five, I would. I can't stress enough how much I appreciated what many people made to make such a wonderful recreation of Hogwarts.
Design of Combat and Enemy
Translating wand combat into a video game was always going to be a challenge. Video game combat generally requires strict rules to operate, and, unfortunately, wand combat in the book series didn't have many rules to begin with, as it served only to support a larger narrative.
The combat shines when new abilities and enemies are introduced. But this shine quickly fades when late-game enemies gain immense amounts of health. This problem becomes particularly problematic with Avada Kedavra, a spell that can instantly kill any opponent. It even worked on an end-game boss. When I decided not to use overpowered Unforgivable Curses, combat was usually dominated by sabotaging large enemies for too long, throwing basic attacks, and throwing some Bombardas at them.
The R2 button on PS5 is so powerful that in later games, my character would stutter from me, constantly mashing the correct trigger, no matter what playstyle or difficulty I tried; other spells, like Mandrake Plants and Thunderbrew Potions, were outdated and, at times, completely useless. I've never used a four-second Invisibility potion since I discovered the Disillusionment Charm early in the game.
This is the main reason I am disappointed. Hogwarts Legacy marketed itself as a game that allowed me to tell my story. However, the only choice that seemed to make any difference during the main narrative occurred in the last thirty minutes of the game. It's simple as that.
The central narrative is a familiar one we've all heard: power inevitably corrupts. The villains remain largely off-screen, making them paper-thin caricatures. The supporting characters and teachers seem to be shadows of their twentieth-century counterparts, giving me no motivation to connect or interact with them in any way.
Sebastian Sallow's character was, unfortunately, morphed into a one-note tune after a few quests, driven by a zealous desire to heal his sister at every cost. By the end of his missions, I empathized more with his sister, who showed her strength in a fit of rage at no one listening to her.
The most superficial part of Hogwarts Legacy's narrative was how my player character was dealt with for their "bad actions." I stole somebody's Gobstones. There were little consequences for my actions. Neither the previous owner nor anybody at school apparently talked about it. I then stole from about five other pupils, again with no consequence.
When I learned Unforgivables, I couldn't use them inside Hogwarts castle. However, my character could run around the Scottish countryside, throwing around torture spells and killing curses at anyone I deemed an enemy, including other humans. No. My mentor, a Hogwarts professor, did not respond.
If your actions do not have an impact on the game, it is not your story. However, playing as an egotistical person with borderline personality disorder was completely ridiculous, since I'd return to a traditional Hogwarts Mystery that didn't respond to my interactions with the rest of the game.
Content on the side
The Hogwarts Legacy has no side content or puzzles that will keep players engaged well beyond the main storyline. I've rolled credits on that, but I probably have about thirty hours' worth of side content left to complete. It does suffer a bit from excessive repetition and a lack of worthwhile rewards.
The early castle puzzles, like the Moth Paintings and Arithmancy Doors, never differ in difficulty; there is just always more to discover. Mid-game and further puzzles, like Merlin Trials, improve this a bit, though one of the late-game puzzles that I encountered, Depulso Puzzle Room Two, was a notable exception. I'm hoping to find more of these in the future.
The overly simplistic Gear system has dampened my desire to track down chests. I think I sold nine out of every ten equipment pieces that I found. The collectible items, such as Wand Handles and Conjuration Spells, are nice, but this is a single-player game, and the customization options aren't as enjoyable without other players to show them off.
The score for the day: 3.5/5
Verdict – Beautiful, but not without flaws
I can almost guarantee that once you enter your chosen common room, you'll be overwhelmed with charm and nostalgia. The setting, which sprang from an IP that was influential for me, was easily the greatest part of this game. I can't help but feel that Hogwarts Legacy, particularly its narrative, was not quite the one I imagined. Perhaps Avalanche Software can take from this first big undertaking and do better in the future.