Hogwarts Legacy: new “Harry Potter” or magical misfire?


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The different custom-created characters were made with the character creator at the beginning of the game. These characters show the depth of customization so the player can really design the character however they want.

“Hogwarts Legacy,” developed by Avalanche Software and Wizarding World, is an open-world video game based on J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” franchise. The game, set in the late 1800s, is an entire century before Harry Potter’s adventures.

I have been an avid “Harry Potter” fan since I was young,  with me reading and rereading the books through elementary and middle school. I have been excited about this game since its announcement in 2020, questioning when in history the game would take place and which characters I would get to meet. After an agonizing wait, the game was finally released on February 10, 2023.

WARNING: Spoilers for the combat, plot and characters of “Hogwarts Legacy” beyond this point. Please read at your discretion.

When starting a new save profile, you can customize the character to look however you choose, with a wide range of facial features, hairstyles, hair colors and voice options. After meticulously creating my character, I delved into the game.

During the tutorial, the player is introduced as a new student at Hogwarts during 5th year. Having never attended a Wizarding School before, the player is picked up by a kind but reckless professor named Fig. On the way to Hogwarts Castle, the flying carriage is attacked by a dragon, and the player and Fig crash into a small island off the sea. While exploring the island, this is when the player’s ancient magic, an extremely rare ability, is revealed. After entering Gringotts Bank through an ancient-magic powered mirror,  a rebellious goblin named Ranrok chases the duo. Finally able to escape, the duo makes it to Hogwarts.

After the Gringotts fiasco, the Sorting Hat sorts the player into his house: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. I chose Ravenclaw house for my playthrough. The player progresses throughout the year, completing duels, minigames, side quests and figuring out why Ranrok and evil wizard Victor Rookwood are after the player.

Throughout the main story, Fig and the player meet other characters who know about ancient magic, named the four Keepers. The player must prove himself by completing each of their trials, which serve as significant puzzles and boss battles throughout the game.

The world is filled with things to do, from popping balloons on a flying broom to matching constellations. There is never a lack of items to explore throughout the main story and side quests.

After exploring the world and completing the main storyline and side quests, I have many thoughts on the game.

The game runs smoothly on “Playstation 5” but is not groundbreaking in performance or design. For a game that borrowed a majority of its designs from “Harry Potter,” the gameplay and graphics were only okay. Caves and dungeons use the same design, textures and enemies to face.

The puzzles and dungeons rely on using the correct spell to solve the puzzle or defeat the enemy, and every spell, except the Unforgivable Curses, is required to complete the game. The amount of spells you can use is impressive, and there are built-in tools to expand how many spells you can use simultaneously. I used Confringo, a fire spell, and Expelliarmus, a spell that disarms enemies, the most throughout my playthrough.

The plot, as briefly mentioned before, is a double-edged sword. My favorite storyline was with a character named Sebastian Sallow, a Slytherin in the player’s year, who is determined above all else to cure his sister of a dark curse inflicted on her by Ranrok and Rookwood. The player is also able to learn the three Unforgivable Curses in this storyline, which allow for controlling, torturing or defeating enemies.

With the game offering the Unforgivables to the player, you are not forced to be a good wizard, but you can decide between good and evil. I chose to be an evil wizard and embrace the Unforgivables because it was more fun.

Bitterly, the game drags on, repeating many missions of defeating goblins, poachers or evil wizards, reducing the plot to only good rather than great.

The side quests range from fun to frustrating, depending on which one you are taking on. Many do not add anything to the game, like searching the whole map for 16 keys and unlocking doors for statues, but some hidden gems offer neat rewards. You can upgrade your broom by partnering with a shop owner and defeating another student in time trials, and you can capture magical beasts and care for them to upgrade your equipment.

Character and character development is where this game really shines, as each of the three major student characters, Sebastian, a Hufflepuff girl named Poppy Sweeting and another transfer student Natsai Onai are fully developed and their moral judgments make sense. Other minor characters still have personalities, and the other professors are given full backstories to explore.

What is a game without its ending? The final battle, which I will leave unspoiled, was extremely anticlimactic and disappointing, especially for the time I spent preparing for it. There were a number of bosses before that were much harder than the strongest villain in the game. The ending of the game was disappointing and aggravating for me.

While the game has its faults, the number of spells, things to do and characters make it worth buying if you are already familiar with the “Harry Potter” series. I do not recommend this game to series newcomers as it is a large amount of information to understand and take in without reading HP.

I rate “Hogwarts Legacy” an 8/10 overall for its plot, game quality and characters.