Despite growing up during the golden age of Harry Potter, Hogwarts Legacy was my first true experience in the Wizarding World. However, it fell short of the magical introduction I had always imagined.
A Dream Fulfilled, with Disappointments
For die-hard fans of the series, Hogwarts Legacy may be a dream come true. This open-world adventure game goes to great lengths to bring the franchise to life. However, as an outsider, I couldn’t help but feel that developer Avalanche Software had cast an illusory spell. Beneath the nostalgic aesthetics, the game lacked imagination and felt disconnected from the vibrant source material.
Hogwarts Legacy delivers a competently executed adventure, but its lack of originality is its most damning flaw. Despite the vast potential of the Harry Potter universe, the game resorts to tired video game clichés. Its only unique selling point is the brand itself, providing nothing more than wish fulfillment for fans unable to let go of a dream.
Goblins and Expectations
Hogwarts Legacy grants the childhood wishes of those who yearned to attend Wizard school. Set in the 1800s, the story follows a fifth-year student tasked with quelling a Goblin rebellion. However, the game falls short in the educational aspect, with “classes” being little more than checklist-driven subquests that reward new spells.
This lack of creativity in the game’s premise is evident. Other games have found unique ways to incorporate school settings into their mechanics. Hogwarts Legacy, instead, reduces the school experience to a series of quests, reminiscent of homework assignments.
A Struggle with Creativity
The story outside of Hogwarts lacks originality as well. The Goblin storyline, subject to prior scrutiny, fails to engage due to its superficial treatment. The characters remain underdeveloped, and the Goblins themselves are mere combat encounters. The lack of empathy is a consequence of lifeless NPCs and a missed opportunity to delve into the world’s power dynamics.
Hogwarts Legacy attempts to distance itself from author J.K. Rowling’s controversial remarks by offering character customization, including a transgender hero. However, the narrative is still confined by Rowling’s worldview. The Goblin storyline lacks depth and fails to offer a compelling conflict. The game could have provided a critical examination of the Wizarding World’s inner politics, but it avoids questioning the established power structures.
Hogwarts Legacy adopts a safe and formulaic approach to gameplay. It ticks all the boxes of a typical AAA open-world action-adventure game, complete with markers, outposts, fetch quests, collectibles, and skill trees. While most of these elements are executed adequately, the game lacks a standout feature that sets it apart from its genre counterparts.
The one exception is Hogwarts itself. The level design of the school is exceptional, with its rich details and hidden passages. Hogwarts becomes an expansive and mysterious environment, brimming with fan service. Exploring the school and discovering its secrets provided some of the most enjoyable moments in the game.
Unfortunately, the land outside of Hogwarts lacks personality and fails to captivate. It is an unremarkable open world, rendering the flight mechanics less engaging. The monotonous visual style and the restriction of certain areas hinder the sense of freedom and exploration.
Hogwarts Legacy struggles with a lack of creativity, which becomes glaringly obvious in its treatment of magic. While the game offers an extensive list of spells, their implementation often feels uninspired. Combat, in particular, falls short with repetitive gameplay and a limited variety of enemy types.
The game’s mishandling of magic extends to smaller details, such as the inclusion of video game tropes in place of original spell mechanics. As a result, spells become mere substitutes for familiar gameplay mechanics, lacking the sense of wonder and astonishment that magic should evoke.
A Nostalgic Disappointment
Hogwarts Legacy fails to live up to the boundless imagination of the Harry Potter franchise. It lacks originality and fails to offer a unique experience. While it may appeal to die-hard fans seeking a nostalgic trip, it falls short for those seeking a truly magical gaming experience.
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