Rowling sucks and so does this game, but it’s not all bad.
With spellcasting and adventure, “Hogwarts: Legacy” provides players with an open-world experience that mimics the feel and look of the fictional “Harry Potter” series. At this point, the magic of an open-world game that is missing a proper storyline fades away, and what remains is the skeletal possibility of a true open-world experience. Plotholes are plenty, and the magical world presented to the player makes little to no sense.
At the beginning of the game, the player is thrust into an intense conflict occurring in the Wizarding World between a goblin and the wizards. Without explanation, the player starts as a fifth-year wizard or witch, which equates to the character being roughly fifteen or sixteen years of age. With interactable characters who are either endearing or little more than cardboard cutouts and a story rooted in anti-Semitic tropes, “Hogwarts: Legacy” does little to entertain the idea of a proper Wizarding World video game.
The story of Legacy is muddled and confusing, one in which a global faction attempts to end slavery, but this action is portrayed as negative because the house elves in the story like being slaves. The game cannot be commented on without reference to the author, J.K. Rowling. With ties to anti-semitic views, racist ideologies and transphobic comments, no product under the umbrella of the “Harry Potter” series can be released without Rowling’s name attached to it. Rowling’s comments about trans rights have turned away a portion of Potter fans, but the game has been in development without her running the project, yet the tendrils of her impact still reach the game.
With a wonderful combat system, Legacy regains some captivating aspects. Talent tree perks that actually impact combat without minor buffs to damage or small visual changes all assist in Legacy retaining a challenging combat level similar to other recent titles. The combat itself never ceases to entertain, yet the enemies begin to feel repetitive. After waves of dark wizards, goblins and spiders, the interactions with the same enemies begin to lose their appeal.
The combat system is not the only aspect that Legacy has to offer –- there is an advanced and comprehensive home decorating section of the game with a light zoo management sector as well. All of these aspects are superseded by the Central Hall –- an area in Hogwarts that splits off into six or seven different hallways, each one going up into classrooms or down to different dungeons. The latter of which can be incredibly confusing when first visited.
The castle itself is alive, with bookcases reorganizing their books, hedges trimming themselves, textbooks fluttering their pages about students, armor pieces saluting those that walk by or paintings passively moving in the background. These background pieces help to make Hogwarts feel alive, yet after witnessing these occur over and over, they are little more than distractors that lose their magical feel after the first viewing.
Around halfway through the playthrough, the feel of Legacy shifts. The stakes of the game become incredible with a disorienting storyline of ancient magic that only the player can wield. There is also a goblin rebellion that develops in the background of the harmless mischief that occurred in the first half. As the player shifts from sneaking into places out-of-hours to gruesome battles against numerous enemies, Legacy begins to feel less like a magical experience and more like magical warfare.
The overused and outdated story of being the best at everything shines through in Legacy, especially near the end of the game. It was a cakewalk that continued to get easier. After breezing through the game on the recommended difficulty, switching over to the hardest difficulty made the game thoroughly enjoyable, and provided a challenge that increased my enjoyment in the game.
“Hogwarts: Legacy” is more than a simple witch or wizard playthrough, with dueling, exploration, random conversations, collectibles, loot and the Room of Requirement –- my personal favorite that allowed the player to make a personalized room with a zoo-managing element. It’s an interesting experience offered for casual and diehard fans alike.