Hogwarts Legacy game offers the opportunity to delve into an unexplored time period within the wizarding universe and discovering it is a delightful experience.
The experience of playing Hogwarts Legacy brings back memories of the captivating world of Harry Potter. In 1998, my mother gave me my first introduction to this magical universe through the book “Philosopher’s Stone” and from the first chapter, I was completely absorbed. That first encounter left a lasting impact on me.
At least, that’s what I thought. Over time, my connection to the franchise began to fade as the core book series came to an end and there were no further movie adaptations. The spinoffs and author J.K. Rowling’s controversial remarks regarding the transgender community took away the remaining excitement and I decided it was time to move on.
However, all that changed when I started playing Hogwarts Legacy, which is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Series S, and PC (early access begins on Tuesday, and it will be available on other consoles in the coming months). Developed by Avalanche Software, this open-world action RPG game offers the chance to live out the dream of enrolling in the prestigious School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a new student.
After playing the PS5 version for 10 hours, I can say that it recaptures the magic of the early books. With an intriguing original storyline, diverse and engaging gameplay, and a beautifully designed world to explore, the game offers a truly enchanting experience.
Going Back to the Roots of Hogwarts Legacy
The Hogwarts Legacy game takes a unique approach by setting the story in an earlier era of the wizarding world, specifically in the 1890s. After creating your character, you are taken on a brief introductory journey before arriving at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Although you are a new student, you start your magical education in your fifth year, which is a bit later than most students. This is likely because having an 11-year-old character explore dangerous caves, learn powerful spells, and face dark wizards may not be the ideal scenario.
In Hogwarts Legacy customizing your character is a crucial aspect of living out your wizarding world fantasy, and it is a delightful process. You can choose your character’s gender, and appearance, and personalize your wand and broomstick. Additionally, you will be sorted into one of the Hogwarts houses (with Slytherin being the best, of course) based on a series of questions you answer shortly after arriving at the school. If you are not satisfied with the initial sorting, you have the option to do it again.
The Hogwarts house you are sorted into has a limited impact on your game experience, affecting only your common room, uniform, and a few incidental mentions. Despite references to house points in some classes, there are no actual inter-house competitions in the game.
Your studies are periodically disrupted by the central story, which revolves around your connection to a mysterious ancient magic and the threat posed by a dark wizard aligned with the leader of a goblin rebellion, Victor Rookwood and Ranrok respectively. This engaging story adds depth to the lore of the wizarding world and hints at events from the distant past. However, it can sometimes take a back seat to the many other distractions within the game.
Discovering the Wizarding World
Hogwarts Legacy is a testament to the creators’ passion for the Harry Potter universe, and this is especially evident in the world and its inhabitants. From the teachers and students to the locations, everything feels authentic and unique, with the inclusion of familiar names such as Weasley and Black to make fans feel at home.
The Hogwarts Legacy portrays each character as having a well-written and distinct personality, expertly voiced and diverse in appearance, making interaction and learning about their backgrounds a delight. Although it’s disappointing that cutscenes cannot be paused, the character development is intertwined throughout the main storyline and side quests, adding depth and intrigue to the world.
The side quests themselves, from uncovering castle mysteries to navigating dangerous caves, offer a range of gameplay and puzzle-solving experiences and are made even more enjoyable by the opportunity to learn more about the characters and world. The avatar’s customized voice acting is acceptable, though it may lack emotion at times, which is a small price to pay for avoiding the pitfalls of listening to an overly realistic teenager. The character models are believable, but some unnatural eye movements may be unsettling.
The world itself is a visual feast, particularly the grand and gothic Hogwarts castle, with its moving paintings, talkative gargoyles, and lively student interactions. The castle and nearby village of Hogsmeade are begging to be explored, with plenty of collectibles and Easter eggs to uncover, including a subtle nod to John Williams’ iconic theme when certain items are picked up.
The rest of the world in Hogwarts Legacy, including rolling hills, plains, and hamlets, may appear a bit uninspired compared to other games, like the Elder Scrolls series. There might be moments during gameplay where the technical limitations of the game are noticeable, such as assets loading at the edge of the screen or doors appearing to be stuck. Although it may briefly affect the player’s immersion, these issues do not detract from the overall experience of the game.
Unleashing the Power of Sorcery
The full extent of your wizarding abilities is revealed gradually throughout the beginning stages of Hogwarts Legacy. You start with the simplest spells and dueling techniques, but the way you cast spells with your wand creates a dynamic and fluid combat experience.
You can defend against incoming attacks with a magical shield and maneuver around more significant ones. The combat system resembles those found in games like Batman: Arkham and Spider-Man, but with a magical twist. It’s enjoyable from the start and will leave you eager for more magical battles.
Mastering the Art of Magic: At Hogwarts, you will embark on a journey of learning and discovery as you take classes like Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, and Herbology. The game’s quest line guides you through each new ability, allowing you to familiarize yourself with each before moving on to the next.
Experiment with Your Skills: The game encourages players to make use of all their spells and skills instead of relying on a few basic combos. As you progress through the game, you will unlock skill trees and develop your preferred combat style. You’ll also earn experience points for your efforts, helping you level up at a steady pace.
A World of Possibilities: Hogwarts Legacy game offers a constant flow of new gear to enhance your attacks and defenses, as well as change your character’s appearance. With the ability to apply the appearance of previous clothing to new ones, you can look stylish and powerful all at once.
Inventory Woes: Exploring the world can be hindered by inventory limits, as you may come across gear you’re unable to pick up. However, completing certain side quests can help increase your inventory, making your journey more seamless.
A joyful reunion at school
Fortunately, the school setting in Hogwarts Legacy is not overbearing – you do not have to stick to a strict schedule. Instead, attending class is used to progress the story and introduce new game elements, not because it is compulsory.
The game world expands significantly after completing your first flying lesson and obtaining your broomstick. Although there is a slight learning curve in flying, the experience is thrilling and showcases the vastness of the game world.
Hogwarts Legacy captures the same enchantment as the opening chapter of the first Harry Potter book, allowing you to explore a beautifully crafted world, encounter an intriguing cast of characters, and embark on your own wizarding journey.
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