Hogwarts Legacy (2023) Review

Hogwarts Legacy is an open world action-adventure-role playing game developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros Games.

The game had initial sales concerns due to some people choosing to pirate the game in order to not support J.K Rowling and her Antisemitic and transphobic views but even after these concerns the game went on to make an astonishing $850’000’000 in global sales in its first two weeks.

The game takes place in the late 1800’s and follows a new 5th year Hogwarts Student who gets wrapped into a wizarding battle revolving around an ancient dark magic which had been trapped inside of an secret repository, throughout the game the player will learn through pensives the dangers of the magic and at the end of the game can decide weather they want to free it or not.

There are three additional major side game plots that have the player deciding outcomes and how relationships will develop, these each tie into three in game houses Gryffindor, HufflePuff and Slytherin.

It is a bit lame that Ravenclaw never got one of these relationship quests but we did get astronomy tables as a unique collectible in the game just kinda wish my house had a much more thought through side story.

The three remaining stories each tie into the in game playing styles, HufflePuff focuses on Poppy Sweeting capturing magical beasts and taking out the poachers that are capturing them.

Gryffindor focuses on Natti Onai an African student who wants to seek justice against dark wizards due to her fathers murder in Uganda.

Slytherin definitely the best side side story focuses on Sebastian Sallow and how he desperately wants to access Dark Magic to save his sister Anne, this side story is the only way to learn the three dark magic curses including the Killing Curse.

Throughout the game you can attend classes to learn spells and you will also need to finish assignments these are normally just challenges to help you get used to how everything works, making potions from collected materials is necessary to keep yourself alive and can give you extra spell damage or defence against tricky enemies and bosses. Learning and developing new spell rotations is also highly recommended to learn how to use different combos to make sure you can get through the games thorough combat system.

Quests and lessons are not the only thing to do in the game, the wizarding world is massive and while you only remain in the Scottish Highlands surrounding Hogwarts Castle there is a plethora of areas to explore, collectibles to find and larger enemies to exterminate.

One issue I had with the game was definitely the crafting system, you can use herbology to grow plants and can brew potions providing that you have the correct number of items requested. It is impossible to do this anywhere but also there are real world time limits to crafting, the herbology I managed to work around by turning the room of requirement into a greenhouse, I rarely used plants so having them constantly replant themselves was useful, potions however were a real pain.

Wiggenweld potion will heal you when drink it and you can only store 25 at a time, when you run low you must go to the potions class and wait 15 seconds per potion to get them back, lets say you had completely ran out, if you wanted a full set of 25 you would need to wait around 6 minutes to brew a new set, in a mobile game this is acceptable because its free but when I have just spent £70 on a videogame having to wait around sucks!.

This could be fixed if you could simply brew as many as you want at once or you have no time limit and you allow players to craft anywhere from in game menu providing they have the necessary materials.

The only other issue I had with the game was the beast system, you can capture magical creatures in the game and release them into sanctuary’s via the Room of Requirement, here you can pet them, play with them, breed them and feed them to get new materials for upgrading your gear and adding special upgrades such as additional fire damage or better defence against Goblins etc. To be honest I hardly ever did this because you change gear so often by simply picking up better stuff that it just got annoying and I realised that I was doing fine enough without this feature.

I think it would be better if the beasts could assist you in combat or another way could be that if you did certain beasts missions you could unlock permanent upgrades that are attached you character and not specific items of clothing.

Apart from my small complaints general gameplay and exploration is fantastic, the world has had a lot of love went into its development, I love that you can freely explore Hogwarts Castle and all that surrounds it.

If you only focus on the main story the game is pretty short but if like me you focused on doing all the side quests and a fair bit of general exploration you will realise that there is so much to do and a ridiculous amount of content in this game. The majority of tasks will see you battling enemies and thankfully the game has really good combat system which can seem a little overwhelming but once you get a feel for it and start to create your own spell rotations and fighting styles it truly is one of the most satisfying combat systems I have ever used.

I found an offensive approach worked best for me using yellow magic to temporarily hinder my enemies before blasting them with my red attack magic to go in for the final blow worked best, when I was dealing with a lot of enemies the chomping cabbages I grew were seriously helpful for taking care of those health bars.

You can block in the game but I actually found it a lot easier to switch between attacks and dodge to quickly take down enemies while keeping myself alive.

I wont go over all of the side content but I do want to highlight the ones that I particularly enjoyed doing, I never went for 100 percent in this as I didn’t really feel a need to and only did the things I had the most fun with.

Merlin Trials are special puzzles hidden throughout the world by the Wizard Merlin, completing these will increase your gear slots, there are a lot of these but they generally come in certain varieties, set fire to all of the columns, move the boulder into the hole, find and return the missing fireflies, blast the items and traverse across the obstacles.

The big troll battles were really fun an could get challenging at times, these were really satisfyingly to beat and also gave you troll bogies one of the more rare crafting items.

I also did the general collection missions including finding the flying keys to retrieve house coins and the demiguise statues. The house coins will eventually allow you to open a chest unique to each common room and the demiguise statues will allow you to upgrade alohomora so you can open level 2 and 3 locks.

Visually from afar the game is beautiful and has some realistic visuals and uses colours extremely well to emphasize the atmospheric values of each in game area, it has some really great fog effects and even though there can be a lot happening on screen in one moment the game always remains well animated and I didnt experience any lag or other gameplay related problems.

Once you approach objects and characters up close there is some distinct drop in graphical quality, facial features become flatter and most things become more pixelated but it never really takes away from the experience the game offers.

The games soundtrack took direct influence from the John Williams score of Harry Potter and Philosophers Stone, even going as far as basing some of the tracks here on those original compositions. The music really is magical and makes you feel like you are the world of Hogwarts.

There is a fantastic video from Youtuber Charles Cornell a Jazz Pianist who discusses the influences in much better detail

I am so happy that this game was successful especially after it’s initial sales concerns because it really is a wonderful videogame and it offers so many details and secrets that you will want to keep coming back to it time and time again.

It isn’t perfect I feel like some changes to the crafting systems definitely need to be made in order to better experience a potential sequel but also we need consequences. The game allows you to make good and bad choices but none of them effect the outcome of the story enough to warrant taking different paths.

No matter what you choose you will always be heading towards that light hearted ending, you cannot become fully evil in this and while I normally go down the good path I think a consequence system similar to the Fable series would have been a great choice here and is something I really want to see in future games.


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