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Hogwarts Legacy Review: A Non-Potter Fan’s Perspective

Should you play Hogwarts Legacy even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan?

Jeremy Proome

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There’s no denying that Hogwarts Legacy has been dominating a lot of the talk around 2023’s gaming release schedule. The Harry Potter-licensed game (which actually doesn’t feature Harry Potter himself — go figure) has been a highly-anticipated title for fans of the books, films, and universe since its announcement. Admittedly, I have never latched onto the beloved wizarding world (hold the gasps), as even after reading the first handful of books and experiencing the jumps to the big-screen, it’s just never grabbed me. Therefore, devoid of any ideological slants or fan hype, who better to give an unbiased and accurate review of the supposed Harry Potter dream project than me?

All jokes aside (for now), praising Hogwarts Legacy on its key merits is important, rather than fawning over its licensed milieu. As an action RPG, the game is incredibly ambitious, as it aims to capture not only the combat and exploration elements of the Harry Potter universe, but a lot of the charm and extra-curricular aspects of being a wizard, too.

The game itself tries to do a lot. After creating your own wizard, you’re able to set out on your fifth-year adventure at Hogwarts, all taking place in the 1800s (so good ole Harry wasn’t even a twinkle in his parents’ eyes at this point), and allows you to embark on a journey through familiar and new locations as you explore the school and surrounding areas. Obviously, this is an RPG, so there’s an overarching objective of getting to the bottom of a plan being hatched by an evil goblin, and the dark wizards assisting him. This main breadcrumb trail of the game is interesting and the mystery around what is actually going on and who is involved will keep you intrigued, even if you don’t know the ins and outs of the wizarding pantheon.

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Of course, the real meat of the game is comprised of its gameplay elements, and to be fair, all are held together really well. The combat is fun and snappy, and doesn’t demand too much of the player despite having tons of spells to cast. One of the best elements of the game is using different spells which all have various animations and effects on enemies. There are some enemies that have to be defeated or for a shield to be broken with a certain magic type, but the choice and fun you can have experimenting with physics and attacks are great.

While the combat is enjoyable and makes us a substantial amount of your playtime, some of the best bits are just exploring Hogwarts and all its nooks and crannies, and stumbling into side quests along the way. What makes these moments so great though is the transforming rooms, labyrinths and areas which all deliver some eye-candy, even during the more quiet bits.

If there is anything to critique Avalanche Software of, it’s that they’ve possibly tried to do too much with Hogwarts Legacy. The game is so meticulously detailed in certain areas, that inevitably, some parts of the game were destined to suffer. In addition to the lack of enemy variety, the game places a heavy emphasis on gear and accessories to boost your stats, as opposed to your proficiency in combat. You can obviously learn new spells and skills from professors and classes, but the game does make you feel like you have to hunt down unique items in order to really feel like you’re making progress.

Ultimately, though, Hogwarts Legacy is a really enjoyable, good-looking, and deep game that has a lot to offer despite its minor shortcomings. Barring the uniqueness of having the Harry Potter license, it does fall into a genre with a lot of magic-based RPGs around, so you’re not short of choice to play something similar; but even alongside the genre competition, it’s an impressive game if you’re looking for something a little more whimsical amongst the bloodshed of other titles.

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Hogwarts Legacy is available on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC.

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