“You’re a wizard Harry,” are the words uttered by the affable Hagrid to the boy wizard Harry Potter, subsequently kicking off a wizarding empire. Sending tots and teens alike fawning for a Wizarding World detached from the glum and ordinary reality.
Trips to the Wizarding World were limited to books and film mediums as well as trips to Universal that could empty out Harry’s vault at Gringotts. Since 1997 fans have wanted to not only step into Harry Potter’s shoes but to forge their own destiny all the while getting into their own misadventures and getting lost in that magical world.
Suffice it to say Avalanche Software has finally achieved the dream of stepping into your own witch or wizard in this fully realized world of Hogwarts Legacy. Having spent 20 hours playing I can confidently say this is the definitive way to experience Hogwarts…
The story revolves around your 15-year old witch or wizard displaying the gift of manipulating ancient magic, something even the most grizzled of wizards and witches are not privy to. This new found ability is set upon by Ranrock, leader of the goblin rebellion and Victor Rookwood, leader of a group of dark wizards. All the while Professor Fig, your mentor and closest ally, helps to solve the mystery of this ancient magic. While attend classes to get your wizard training on as well as getting into hijinks with your classmates.
The first hour zooms by as the linear storytelling takes you from the streets of London to the depths of Gringotts and finally to the front doors of Hogwarts. Once you’ve mastered the basics the game turns you loose into the fleshed out world to take on tasks in whatever order. If you’re like me you’re likely to roam the halls of Hogwarts in stupefied awe from tippy top to the dankest low taking it all in, petting cats and spinning globes.
The magic in Hogwarts Legacy is the way it presents the missions, mysteries, tasks and the kitchen sink, while not overwhelming the player. You can be traversing the halls on your way to Charms class and a student flags you down to help them find their gobstones or you find a door with magic arithmetic you’re interested to find out what lies beyond it. Your curiosity is what’s driving you to all the nooks and crannies of Hogwarts.
It also helps that Hogwarts always seems so lively, students are coming to and fro with stacks of books in their arms, socializing in groups, paper airplanes whizzing by, suits of armor trying their best to stand still as sentinels, the many ghosts with their own comings and goings and let’s not forget the moving paintings. Sound engineering adds to the ambiance of the fully realized Wizarding World as the music swells with a new melody while evoking what came before in John Williams‘ iconic “Hedwig’s Theme”, those instantly recognizable chimes are there to lift your spirits and stir this wondrous excitement.
Combat system starts off dull but as you learn more spells you become proficient in completing combos and juggling your opponents like they’re life sized pins. The combat is reminiscent of that of Spider-Man or Batman Arkham series games where your face buttons create combos all the while you keep an eye out for well timed parries and attack dodges. I haven’t even touched on the Room of Requirement where you can spend a dizzying amount of hours customizing to fit your own tastes. Or the fact that you can tame and care for fantastic beasts and connect with your inner Newt Scamander.
Reports of game breaking glitches are unfounded as the biggest hindrances I found was a lack of gear storage, as of now my character has 20 slots which easily fill up with robes, hats, gloves, capes, glasses, outfits. I mean, for god sakes Hermione had a small purse that had a tent inside of it. Maybe I’m just not to that point yet. There’s some instances of clipping but only so slightly. At times you’ll go through a door to a new area and your character will stutter for half a second whilst the area loads, a small price to pay for all the eccentricities that surround you. Also no Quidditch, but the pitch is there so fingers crossed for a Quidditch DLC pack.
With the firestorm created by J.K. Rowling’s inflammatory remarks it’s understood why a lot of people may be apprehensive about picking up the controller. But please, don’t bash those that wish to experience this game. Just know that the majority of the people playing have been waiting to experience this for years if not decades, this writer included.
Rowling be damned.
With reality in disarray and becoming more surreal we turn to the Wizarding World where we can get lost in the fantastic world of Hippogriffs, spells, witches and wizards — where some problems can be fixed with a simple swish and incantation. So grab your wand and do something magical today.