Hogwarts Legacy Amazingly Brings the Magical Literary World to Life

Hey all. I’m back with a review of one of my most highly anticipated games for the year. It’s my Hogwarts Legacy review.

Foreword: I in no way support Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling’s personal views, but I do support the developers who worked so incredibly hard to bring to life a beloved location and world from fiction.

Plot: The plot of Hogwarts Legacy is not too outstanding, with a new student being offered the opportunity to join the fabled wizardry school as a fifth-year transfer (so characters are not little kids) at the same time as a goblin revolution is taking place. Your character is also able to see a special kind of ancient magic, which adds another wrinkle to the plot. That being said, I wasn’t expecting a masterwork in terms of storytelling, and Hogwarts Legacy does a good job, but it’s not as robust as some other RPGs I’ve played like Final Fantasy. Thankfully, Hogwarts Legacy is a video game as opposed to a book, and that means that the overall plot isn’t the sole way to judge it.

Characters: Beyond the player character, the entire cast is pretty spectacular from the various students you meet in the halls to the quirky and cool professors who will teach you about different forms of magic. Most of the characters in the game are brand new and made specifically for the title since it takes place in 1890, a full century before Harry Potter makes his way to Hogwarts. However, there are some familiar characters if one is well-versed enough with the characters from the books, and I’m not talking about the various ghosts of Hogwarts, although they do show up as well – including Peeves.

Gameplay: The gameplay is in a word, awesome, and you are pretty much free to almost fully explore the entire grounds of Hogwarts and the surrounding lands to root out its various secrets from your first day at the school. There is also a small tutorial area which begins a bit after an introductory sequence of events, and it sets up the story and introduces the player to controlling their character and the combat system. Speaking of the combat system, in Hogwarts Legacy, that is another strength as it is both excellent and intuitive.

In combat, you are able to aim your spells precisely, although it’s definitely not needed all that much as your character will aim pretty well for you most of the time. There is a basic attack spell you use, called Basic Cast, which just sends a bolt of magic to damage your enemies, and which is surprisingly effective.

The other part of the spell system is the ability to use all sorts of various other spells in combat, from the shielding spell Protego which lets you block most attacks, to the summoning charm Accio, which you can use in combat to pull enemies towards your character and levitate them briefly. Combining spells into combinations like first levitating them and then shooting them with Basic Cast not only does more damage, but it can remove their shield as well. Any of the advanced spells, like Accio, have cooldowns, though this can be mitigated and reduced through both a consumable potion and different learned talents. The cooldowns generally aren’t that long however, maybe 10 seconds at most with one notable exception that I’ll get to later. If you have more than one combat spell slotted, you can use the second one while the first cools down, with a bunch of Basic Casts in the middle to keep a steady stream of offensive magic flowing at your enemies.

Not all enemies are able to be affected by all the spells in your arsenal, and some are completely useless in combat such as the repair charm Reparo, the continuous levitation charm Wingardium Leviosa, or the light spell Lumos.  Outside of those three spells, and three related to the beast mechanic of the game, every single spell has a use in combat, and it’s up to you to deploy them to the best of your ability.

Hogwarts Legacy will reward players for clever uses of spells by allowing them to cause significant damage or outright eliminating enemies through mechanics such as using the Knockback charm to fling an enemy off a castle rampart, or setting up a spell chain where you freeze an enemy and then kill it instantly with a quick follow up of a blasting curse.

Later in the game, you can even learn the three big “Dark” spells (also known as the Unforgivable Curses) from the Harry Potter series that are incredibly overpowered, and all of them work on every enemy except the big named story bosses. Other named enemies that I have found are fully susceptible to those devastating spells. That notable exception I mentioned above when it came to spell casting cooldowns is the rather infamous Killing Curse that will instantly kill any enemy (minus those story bosses I mentioned), although you get access to this incredibly late in the game, so by then you’ll likely be an old hand at taking care of enemies without the use of such a powerful tool.

That spell has a very significant cooldown and while it can be mitigated, it’ll still be rather significant. Still, it makes for one heck of a tool to pull out when necessary, and if the player chooses to pour in the right talent points, they can learn to use it to cast on every enemy in their vicinity to kill them all instantly through clever use of the other Unforgivables and specific spells to mark them all as cursed.

Speaking of talents, that is one of the more debatable topics in the game. There are only 36 talent points available and 48 options where you can spend them, which leaves the player with some things being left by the wayside. Personally, I took every option in the Core and Spell categories with the exceptions of the upgrades to Depulso, Incendio and the two upgrades to the perfect uses of Protego since I’m not the best at timing counterattacks, and I completely skipped the Room of Requirements tree of options, which includes upgrades to the non-healing consumable side of combat. But by the time I finished the story, I was beyond needing any such tools since I could usually deal with enemies without even needing a healing potion.

However, for all that Hogwarts Legacy does that is incredible from giving players the ability to explore all of Hogwarts and its many, many secrets to the excellent combat system, it does sadly fail at letting the player get a true Hogwarts experience as a student. Obviously, this was done to allow players more freedom to truly play the game however they want, and also maybe because of budgeting concerns, but beyond that the player won’t really feel like a true student. You don’t have to sit through hours of lectures or take tests. In fact, beyond a handful of mandatory classes you attend mostly through the use of cutscenes, it didn’t feel like a true Hogwarts academic experience as a student. In Hogwarts Legacy, I was not really subjected to curfew, and I definitely would have been on academic probation from skipping classes to go galivanting around the countryside for days on end. Nor do you feel a connection to many of your peers in the classes beyond a couple handfuls of other students. The side quests with friendly companions help with this somewhat, but they’re not nearly enough to flesh out some of the characters. There is no ability for your character to form deep friendships with other students. There are also no romance options either.

Art: The art is pretty spectacular, and while it’s not hyperrealistic, it does allow the player to view Hogwarts in stunning detail beyond what most players have ever experienced before. There are all sorts of little hidden treats to be found from the humming set of armor outside the Great Hall to its immediate neighbor who takes umbrage with its poor choice in expressing music through said use of humming and proceeds to utterly pulverize it into pieces. In addition, you’ll frequently see the various students of Hogwarts doing all sorts of crazy things, like one student who I saw get stuck levitating and was begging a friend for help getting down before someone else dragged said friend away leaving the poor sap to suffer without help for days. I didn’t stick around to watch that beyond ten minutes of real time in which he was still floating there by the time I left.

Everything in Hogwarts Legacy is very well done from the spells to the various minor attractions, and it’s clear that much effort was put into making Hogwarts feel like a real boarding school. It’s not perfect, but it is highly appreciated. I should warn players that if they are at all afraid of spiders, Hogwarts Legacy might be a very bad game to play. Spiders are a very common enemy through the various side quests and main quests, and they are detailed in ways that had me shivering after pitched battles with them. Even after the last one fell, I was still affected by those encounters.

Music: The music is pretty great, and while there are some notable tracks from the movies, it does have its own music to go along with those tracks that fit nicely together with Hogwarts Legacy’s theme and settings. The music helped push the tension in certain areas, and was very good at getting my heart pounding, particularly in the aforementioned spider-infested areas of the game.

Overall: Hogwarts Legacy is an excellent title that fulfills most of what one would want from being able to live on the very famous Hogwarts grounds. It’s not perfect, and the game doesn’t really treat the player as an academic student, so some people may be a bit disappointed by that. However, beyond that, everything else is truly incredible. I felt like I got to experience Hogwarts thoroughly for the first time, even if I didn’t feel fully like a student, and that’s been something I’ve wanted since I was a child listening to my mom read the very first book in the series to me at night. Hogwarts Legacy delivered that dream and more for me.

For those who like: The Harry Potter Series, Fantasy, Adventure, Action, Great Plot and Characters, Excellent Gameplay, Fantastic Artwork, and Superb Music.

Not for those who don’t like: Any of the above or were looking forward to getting the full academic experience at Hogwarts.

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