Hogwarts Legacy is a pretty big deal for the so-called “Wizarding World” franchise as it accumulates over 25 years of witches and wizards, Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts into one game. But this is no simple video game. Hogwarts Legacy is the very first game in the magic franchise to tell its own original tale and break away from the Harry Potter story created by she who will not be named.
It is also the Harry Potter game we have all dreamed of playing. Ever since we first read the lines “Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”. Or watched Albus Dumbledore say the line – “I should have known that you would be here, Professor McGonagall,” in the first movie. True to its series core, Hogwarts Legacy is a magical game. It stands as a triumph to what is possible when you take a beloved series and let passionate fans create a world they want to live in.
Watch the Hogwarts Legacy review below
Often throughout my campaign as a Slytherin student at Hogwarts, I was left in absolute awe of the world that surrounded me. I found myself questioning the game, wondering how something like this could even exist. It is as if Portkey and the team at Avalanche thought of absolutely every single detail and more, and brought it to life on the screen in front of me. But most important of all, I was thankful. As the tear rolled down my cheek while I ran through Hogsmeade on a shopping spree, I was just thankful that I could experience a game like this in my lifetime.
Hogwarts Legacy kicks off with an exciting bang as your original character, who you will design from scratch, is on its way to Hogwarts. For reasons, which I won’t spoil, your character is a fifth-year student starting out at the school for the first time. This clever choice of narrative ties into much of the game’s mechanics. You see, a fifth-year noob Witch or Wizard now has to catch up on four years of school. This way, the team behind the game was able to squeeze in everything you can ever dream of without putting things off for the next year’s curriculum.
This works and works very well. Instead of tackling the current school year’s curriculum, you’re now bombarded with the responsibility to learn spells you missed, potions beyond your skill level and tame weird and wonderful beasts. Oh, and there’s also a dark plot going on which you’re thrown into. So much of Hogwarts Legacy is all about being a student a Hogwarts. Sure, there is a lot more to it but the game manages to perfectly capture that magic of being thrown into this world and being forced to navigate it.
When I wasn’t exploring the Forbidden Forest for ingredients to make potions, I was running around Hogwarts completing lessons to unlock assignments which in turn, would unlock new one-on-one lessons. These private lessons have been set up to teach my character the stuff they missed. This includes spells, potions and charms. Of course, everything I learnt in Hogwarts can be taken into the world around me and used. In fact, some main quests were often locked until I had obtained a specific spell or potion.
While the idea of assignments might sound like a chore, they are brilliantly designed. The game refused to hold my hand and instead, told me what to do and I had to figure it out for myself. I absolutely loved this. Not only did it give me that feeling of being a student who had to fend for myself but it ties into the game’s excellent sense of discovery.
I remember one fond moment when I was tasked to go shopping for items right at the start of the game. The game didn’t fast forward to Hogsmeade for the shopping spree. No. Instead, I walked there with a friend I made in class. As I walked down the road, through the trees and saw Hogsmeade ahead, I could have imploded with excitement. People waved hello, Hippogriffs flew through the air, and I saw the Hogwarts Express letting off steam in the distance. It was magical to see this world living and breathing around me.
But Hogwarts Legacy is full of these magical moments. Exploration is unrivalled and soaring through the air on your broom is truly a bucket list item I can now cross off my list. It feels incredible. Not to mention that the world is oozing with fantastic characters. Every classroom was packed with students that looked unique. It wasn’t an asset farm of NPCs copied and pasted around the game. The same goes for the residents, enemies and main characters.
Conversations are brought to life thanks to some fantastic facial animation work. Eyebrows raise, people, smile and I could not help but feel connected to every story and character in the game thanks to this. I wanted to go and see Professor Garlick and learn more about plants because her smile filled up the room. Professor Fig’s mysterious tone made me worry about the dark threat surrounding the magical world.
There’s also a lot to see and do in Hogwarts Legacy. I loved every moment of it. From decorating my very own Room of Requirement with furniture and potion tables to sneaking through Poacher Camps to free trapped beasts. The world around me was never disappointing. When I was given an assignment to do something specific, I simply climbed on my broom and went exploring. Whether this trip ended up in the Forbidden Forest fighting spiders or simply chasing down frogs, it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Hogwarts Legacy’s systems also work very well together. Gear equipped my wizard with stats boosts across damage and defence. It also changed my appearance. Later in the game, I was then able to further enhance gear with Traits. These all came with buffs and effects. Gear is of course, vital for combat and it is incredible too. Almost every spell I learnt was usable in a combat encounter and while I started out with the basics, later into the game I was pulling off some powerful combos.
Combat is fast-paced and flashy. I whisked spells around, broke enemy shields, picked up rocks and tossed them and even performed famous deadly curses that one-shot opponents. But as I got stronger, so did the enemies. I had to manage equipping different spells on the go, finding ways to weaken enemies to deal damage and surviving the onslaught of dark wizards. It is a great time.
Talents in the game also allowed me to craft my wizard into a specific build. I could go dark by converting my spells into curses, focus on stealth or be an all-around deadly plant and potion badass. I would then find gear and Traits that tied this all together.
Hogwarts Legacy is also a challenging game with a heavy emphasis on RPG mechanics. It forced me to worry about the number of potions I had before going into a dungeon. I had to make sure I always sold my gear due to the limited inventory slots and I was always planting Chinese Chomping Cabbage to take with me on errands. If I didn’t do all this, I would too often find myself without potions to heal, slots to store new gear and items to help those tough combat encounters. The game doesn’t hold your hand here at all which is great.
Somehow everything I have mentioned so far just works so well. I haven’t even touched on the main story because that is yours to enjoy. Just know that its originality is excellent and it will make fans of the series love it even more.
The real gem here is in how everything feels so alive. I walked through a town and stopped to listen to people chat about their daily lives. The season changes as the game progresses which results in a drastically different look and feel across the entire game. There isn’t one part of Hogwarts Legacy that doesn’t feel authentic to the universe. It goes above and beyond to deliver a true love letter to fans.
The smaller things like dressing your character in all the weird and wonderful clothing to the challenging battle arenas which forced me to sit up and pay attention to the intense combat around me. When I needed a break from all that, I simply summoned my mount and went flying around looking for ingredients to harvest and beasts to save. Somehow I think if we lived in that magical Hogwarts world, this is how our daily life would run.
It is hard to find a single fault in this game. Hogwarts Legacy is magical. It is the landmark experience we have been waiting for and there is truly nothing else like it around. The sheer amount of love and passion that exists here is remarkable. Every single little detail made me smile. Every moment spent in the game brightened my day. Games like this just don’t come around often and I hope everyone sees its light.
This Hogwarts Legacy review is based on the PS5 version of the game. The game is releasing on 10 February (7 February for Deluxe Edition owners). You can pick up a copy starting at R1099.
Hogwarts Legacy Review
Story - 10/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 10/10
Hogwarts Legacy is a remarkable achievement. It is filled with an incredible amount of love and passion. All of which delivers a true love letter to fans. There’s simply nothing else like it and we’ll be talking about this magical experience for years to come.
Unrivalled magical world
Captures being a Hogwarts student
Fantastic stories and quests
Attention to detail
Small animation hiccups