Hogwarts Legacy is a fantasy action role-playing game developed by Avalanche Software and published by Warner Bros. Games. The game is centered around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and takes place during the late 1800s. Hogwarts Legacy will take players to locations such as Hogsmeade and the Scottish Highlands. The game stars a new student starting (his/her) semester as a fifth-year student at Hogwarts. This simple concept gives us arguably the best Harry Potter game I have ever played.
Developer & Publisher // Avalanche Software, Warner Bros. Games
Platforms // PlayStation 4|5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
MSRP & Release Date //$59.99, Feb 10, 2023
Reviewed On // Xbox Series X
Set in the 1800s, long before the wizarding wars, the player stars as a new fifth-year student as he/she learns to harness their magical abilities. If you ever experienced any Harry Potter film, you’ll instantly recognize a lot of the areas within the castle grounds. The attention to detail within the school blew my mind with the moving portraits, common rooms, and beautifully recreated halls and classrooms.
The game also incredibly recreates Hogsmeade to a tee which makes the immersion second to none. As you know the world of Hogwarts centers around magic. This by itself is what makes Hogsmeade so special. The fact that for the first time ever we have the ability to visit this iconic area is all the sweeter, but how does this add to the immersion?
The Importance of Hogsmeade Village
If you read the source material or watched the films you would know that Hogsmeade Village was the only wizard shop in Britain. It was known for its unique shops like Zonko’s Joke Shop a favorite among the students due to the products offered to pull off pranks on other students and staff. Another key area of Hogsmeade was Honeydukes. The area would always be flooded by students, especially during the holiday. Lastly, the Shrieking Shack the only abandoned house in Hogsmeade which many feared to be haunted due to screams being heard coming from it. Now that we highlighted these areas let’s talk about how the team over at Portkey Games brought them to life in such great detail.
Zonko’s Joke Shop
Starting with Zonko’s Joke Shop this area is completely accessible for the player as soon as you step foot inside Hogsmeade. When you enter the shop, you are greeted with an incredible atmosphere. The shop is full of so many beautifully recreated items that you can interact with. Such as the infamous Dungbombs, and even the Boxing Telescope. This attention to detail adds so much to the immersion in the world. Especially considering that everything within the store has its own personality and magical charm.
Honeydukes where do I begin? Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to visit this awesome location as it always gave me the Willy Wonka vibes. The shop is simply beautifully recreated. In fact, I found myself going back to the films and even the books and just marveling at how accurately they captured this area. The shop was full of clever designs like for example Caractacus The Candy Conjurer. Honeydukes also included Flying Whizzbees, Pepper Imps, Candyfloss, and the iconic Elephant on a Bicycle. As soon as the player steps foot inside this shop they are amazed and left speechless.
The Shrieking Shack
The Shrieking Shack caught me off guard from the very sight. Mostly because this is the same house where Harry Potter finds out the truth about what happened to his parents before they met their end at the hands of the dark lord Voldemort. From the outside, there isn’t much to it since we don’t physically see the Whomping Willow. However, the fact we can actually visit this area and explore adds depth to the beautiful world recreated in Hogwarts Legacy. Players should expect to revisit this area down the road.
Another thing to mention about Hogsmeade is that it features certain shops that ironically are known exclusively for the Diagon Alley area. The alley is located in London and has famous places like Ollivanders wand shop. Now to be fair, Hogwarts Legacy is centered around the Scottish Highlands which is why Hogsmeade is one of the main areas you will find yourself visiting. However, some fans might be disappointed if they are expecting to see Platform Nine and Three-Quarters. Unfortunately, you will have to wait until a sequel or potential DLC. With that being said let’s move on to the overall story of the game.
When it comes to the narrative of Hogwarts Legacy, it’s nothing crazy, however, you will find yourself engaged. In order to not spoil it, here is a general gist of the game’s conflict. Simply put you are a very gifted wizard/witch who has the ability to channel and harness ancient magic. This leads to the discovery of the map chamber a secret area within the castle that was overseen by the former keepers. Although the keepers are a vital part of the story, you will also be dealing with Dark wizards and goblins led by the infamous Ranrok.
Despite its very simple premise, the game had me intrigued from start to finish. That’s mostly due to the game’s high production value. All things considered, the story’s pacing was solid overall. What makes the story stand out is the fact that the player can actually decide what kind of wizard they wish to be. Whether the player wants to be an honorable student or an overall menacing threat heavily impacts the story. Your choices matter and can and will lead to some very dark endings.
I will say Hogwarts Legacy starts off extremely strong with its incredible opening. As you progress throughout the story, it goes from strength to strength. This is accomplished due to the game’s amazing voice-over performances and awesome dialogue that feels authentic to the setting.
By the time I reached the climax of the story, I was left with a big smile on my face wanting more. But I must say if anything I did find certain side missions to be unnecessary as they felt like they just dragged the game along a bit. If I were to compare Hogwarts Legacy to any previous Harry Potter game, this game is in a league of its own. The story had a great payoff and is easily the best-written and voice-acted entry in the franchise.
Hogwarts Legacy Graphics and Art Style
The art style of this game is absolutely amazing. One of my favorite areas in the game is the Forbidden Forest. The forest serves as the haven for the giant spiders and the area’s atmosphere is thick with dread that was present within the films. Areas like Hogsmeade and the Highlands are beautifully recreated and showcase the game’s awesome lighting.
Hogwarts Legacy utilizes some great special effects which further highlight the presentation of the game. Whether you are casting spells to solve puzzles throughout the world or simply spamming the killing curses to eliminate foes, the game’s visual effects are stellar. In particular, the particle effects were astounding. They really amplify each time you cast a spell, which adds to the immersion in Hogwarts Legacy.
When it comes to character customization in Hogwarts Legacy, the game has a lot to offer. Since the game is a full-on RPG you will be granted access to stronger and more efficient gear to fit your playstyle. Everything from hats, gloves, robes, shirts, and pants you really have unlimited combo choices.
Not to mention you are also granted the ability to modify each item’s appearance through transmog. So in general if you don’t like the look of an item of clothing you easily change it to look like an item you previously found. This allows players to always have the best gear while also looking the best, which is never a bad thing. Another fun note to take is that all customization carries over within cutscenes and interactions within the world. So by all means take advantage of the system because it is great.
Performance, Glitches, and Missed Opportunities
Now that we got some positives out of the way, let’s take a second to highlight some negatives. The biggest gripe that I have with Hogwarts Legacy is the performance. I played the game on the PS5 in performance mode. This gave me the option to experience the game at 60 FPS. Unfortunately, this is short-lived as the game suffers from framerate dips throughout my playthrough.
I encountered a few framerate dips that caused my game to crash twice. Luckily the team was able to iron out these issues as the week progressed. Now to be fair the game offers a balanced mode option which is basically the fidelity mode at 40 FPS locked. However, I find it frustrating that console gaming still isn’t offering 60fps modes with Ray-tracing enabled.
Lip Syncing Issues
Another small gripe that I ran into with the game was lip-synching issues. Mind you this isn’t constant throughout the entire game. However, when it actually did happen, it made moments involving certain character decisions that I should in fact react seriously to ironically laughable.
In fact, in many ways, it’s laughably random as you complete side quests and other activities. For example, during The Man Behind The Moon side quest, (which centers around collecting the Demiguise statues) Professor Gladwin Moon lip synching was off 50% of the time. As soon as I started the quest everything seemed fine until I returned to him with the requested items granted I’m still not sure what caused this but I must say it was annoying.
Lack of Quidditch is a Missed Opportunity
One thing I find extremely hard to look past is the fact that this game doesn’t have an option for Quidditch matches. The flying broom mechanics in this game are done exceptionally well. The controls felt great and were highly responsive. Hands down Hogwarts Legacy‘s broom-flying mechanics are easily the best in the Harry Potter franchise.
This makes the absence of the game mode that much more apparent and it leaves so much more desired. Especially since their only three options for racing. Granted, this can all be added later through DLC since there are a lot of hints scattered throughout the castle, but it is worth noting.
Sound Design in Hogwarts Legacy
I have marveled over the visuals of Hogwarts Legacy but I haven’t talked about this game’s incredible sound design. Everything from the spells you’ll cast throughout the game to the creatures you’ll encounter on your journey is beautifully captured. The sound design had an impact and reverberated wonderfully.
I also absolutely loved the musical score and sound notes that would play as you explore Hogwarts. The soundtrack quality feels like it was taken straight from one of the Harry Potter films.
Gameplay & Traversal
Lastly, let’s talk about another highlight and that is the gameplay. Hogwarts Legacy grants you access to various magical spells and combat abilities. As the player progresses, they develop their own combat style. Attending classes like the “Defense of The Dark Arts” grants you access to more advanced gameplay mechanics and combos. I found this to be great because the player has the complete freedom to tackle any situation to their heart’s content. For example, if a player wanted to clear a group of enemies as quickly as possible to progress the story, they can use the killing curse which is a one-hit kill regardless of the enemy type. If the player wants to be strategic they can use the invisibility spell and stealthy takedown enemies. Overall the controls were very solid and each spell works for any situation the player will find himself in.
Furthermore, this allows the player to deal massive damage against creatures and dark wizards found throughout the game. Hogwarts Legacy features a juggling system very similar to what is found in the God of War Series as you are able to do prolonged damage as you progress and master your spells. I found this to be great for the overall combat mostly because the game gives you so many spells. And the fact that you can chain them for bigger and more gruesome combos was very satisfying and well executed.
Aside from the combat, you will also find that you can capture magical beasts within the game. Each magical beast featured within the world offers material used to upgrade items and gear. You can also explore the world by simply riding these magical beasts after capturing them. Though, I personally opted to use the broomstick for traversal because it was addicting and my favorite way of getting around.
Final Thoughts on Hogwarts Legacy
Despite the game having a few glitches and missed opportunities, Hogwarts Legacy was excellent from start to finish. The combat was awesome, the story was solid, and the visuals and sound design were second to none. Overall, the game definitely delivered a magical experience.
Hogwarts Legacy is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.