Published on February 6th, 2023 | by Andrew Paul
Hogwarts Legacy Review (Hogwarts Legacy PS5 Review)
Summary: Hogwarts Legacy is pure magical!
The new blockbuster Harry Potter adventure game by Avalanche Software is finally here with Hogwarts Legacy but does it live up to the hype? Read on!
Remember how Rocksteady Games gave the Batman franchise a rockstar gaming treatment? Well this is what developers Avalanche Software does with Hogwarts Legacy with their first furore into the Harry Potter universe. As a result, they efficaciously pay homage to the diverse reference material of this loved book and film series but more importantly, they build upon it… in other words, it feels very much like a game set in the Harry Potter universe even though Mr Potter himself is nowhere to be seen.
That’s because Hogwarts Legacy is set in the 19th century which allows for creative freedom as your character is thrown into a mysterious and magical adventure. At its core, Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world action-RPG that incorporates the essence of this franchise into the gameplay and as it’s built from the ground-up, it feels right. Not going into the recent J. K. Rowling controversy, she was not involved in the story that Warner Bros. has made quite clear.
Prior to starting the game you need to create your Avatar for the game that allows you to fine tune their appearance, including assigning a first and last name. The attention to detail on the character creation is impressive and once you have created your 5th year witch or wizard, your adventure commences.
After an impressive cinematic that introduces your character to Professor Fig from Hogwarts who will be accompanying you to the school of wizardry, you soon realise the effort that has been made by the developers to bring this universe to the gaming world which is on par. If you’re a devotee of the books by J.K. Rowling, there’s plenty of magical lore to be discovered along your tour of Hogwarts Legacy such as Professor Cuthbert Binns or Nearly Headless Nick. You’ll also take part in classes such as the Defence Against the Dark Arts or Herbology which all helps build your character.
Apart from the next-gen graphics that supports both a fidelity and performance mode on the PlayStation 5 which brings the story to life, the narrative is quite engaging and at times darker, including well-balanced character building and professional voice acting. Graphically and for me, the game channels the film, however it still draws in the imaginary directly from the books.
The first few levels of the game serve as a tutorial that teaches you the control mechanics and how your character interacts with the broader universe of Hogwarts Legacy. It also sets the scene that introduces your character as an older student to Hogwarts which is quite unusual for the school and yes, like Harry you are special. Unlike other wizards and witches, your character has the ability to see the remnants of ancient magic which you soon discover once your journey is cut short by a dragon who attacks your magical carriage.
Fortunately lady luck is on your side and you and Professor Fig end up in the highlands of Scotland at an old magical stronghold and with your second hand wand, you uncover an unsavoury gnome who not only wields powerful magic but wants to unlock the ancient knowledge that your character will soon uncover.
From here, you arrive in Hogwarts and in classic Harry Potter custom, you join (albeit late) the sorting ceremony and once you have chosen your house such as Ravenclaw thanks to the pragmatic sorting hat, your official adventure begins. Don’t fret if you don’t get your preferred house as you can dictate who you would like to be affiliated with.
Without spoiling the story (as it’s a decent one), Hogwarts Legacy is filled with many surprises and interactions along the way that for fans or even semi-fans builds an engaging narrative from start to finish. I also like how your character has friends, just like Harry did (well will) who add to the realism, including an emotional slant. While specific characters have parallels to those in the film, for the most part, it complements the story and of course gameplay well.
As you explore Hogwarts and its surroundings, it’s easy to become invested in your character that really makes this title hard to put down and as you progress, so do your magical abilities. Further supporting the gameplay is the combat mechanics and again another next-gen experience on the PlayStation 5 that removes the grind and actually adds some clever tactics into the mix, although wand based. The variety of enemies can be a challenge at times from wizards wielding the dark arts to hideous monsters that do not look out of place in this pre-Harry Potter story.
Adding to the gameplay mechanics is the mapping that feels purposeful and well suited to the DualSense controller that includes great use of haptics, particularly when casting spells. The use of the on-board speaker also helps so yes, a superior experience on the PlayStation 5 and when matched with the diverse spells, this is not only the best Harry Spotter video game experience to date but a truly enjoyable one as well.
Nothing is more entertaining than casting leviosa at your enemies which purposely lifts them into the air or you can shoot flames at them but again diversity is the key with spell casting. Of course chaining your spells together like a powered up Gandalf … err… Dumbledore in this prime is so worth the admission price, especially when you’re a higher level wizard or witch. Apart from magical attacks, your defense abilities is equally as impressive and really adds to the overall strategy.
Nothing is more entertaining than casting leviosa at your enemies which purposely lifts them into the air or you can shoot flames at them but again diversity is the key with spell casting. Then you have duelling that with the haptics really ups the ante of your battles, including excellent use of adaptive triggers. Speaking of adaptive triggers, these are used well to create your own potions and when you crush ingredients in your mortar, it actually gives the illusion that you are creating something physically, albeit virtually.
There’s plenty of puzzles and non-combat challenges to be found along the way which is carried out in perfect Harry Potter fashion and again good use of haptics and adaptive triggers. And if you’re wondering if you can fly? Brooms? Hippogriffs anyone? It wouldn’t be a Harry Potter game if you couldn’t but one omission is Quidditch. Unfortunately the headmaster of Hogwarts has put a ban on this sport due to an incident.
“Levelling” up your character gives you incentive to continue and your magic is stored in slots, so you can mix and match along your adventure that again fine tunes how you play the game. Apart from exploration, solving quests and combat, there is a plethora of characters to interact with, not to mention shopping and also dabbling with fantastic beasts. So as you can see, Hogwarts Legacy provides a plethora of gaming fun and distraction to keep you totally invested.
Graphics / Audio
Graphically, Hogwarts Legacy is pure Harry Potter. While fidelity mode gives the game additional attention to detail, performance is a far smoother experience and for me, still looks just as good. So whether it’s the various areas of this gigantic castle, the Quidditch field or the various common rooms of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin, it is a well created game with plenty of interactive graphics.
Rendering, lighting and special effects all go hand-in-hand with the overall gaming experience and on the PlayStation 5, it cannot be faulted. Yes like all games, there are a few inconsistencies here and there but it’s nothing to moan about. Needless to say, it’s a living breathing virtual world and whether that’s the Great Hall filled with students or teachers, the lonely halls or the forests around Hogwarts, it’s truly… well magical. As mentioned earlier, voice acting is on par as is the overall sound and magical inspired soundtrack that works well with the gameplay and story-telling. Avalanche Studios should again be complimented on the attention to detail as the background audio ambience really helps draw you into the game.
Pushing the J.K. Rowling controversy to the side, Hogwarts Legacy is a true celebration of the magical universe that she created which perfectly transitioned to film. Her universe has equally been adapted well into this game courtesy of Avalanche Studios with its gameplay and story. Whether the story will become canon is yet to be seen but again this is as close as you can get to the core of what the extended universe of Harry Potter can be that not only plays well on the PS5 but looks fantastic.
Hogwarts Legacy Key Features
Explore an Open World
The wizarding world awaits you. Freely roam Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, the Forbidden Forest, and the surrounding Overland area.
Be the Witch or Wizard You Want to be
Learn spells, brew potions, grow plants, and tend to magical beasts along your journey. Get sorted into your house, forge relationships, and master skills to become the witch or wizard you want to be.
Experience a New Wizarding World Adventure
Experience the wizarding world in an unexplored era to uncover a hidden truth from its past. Battle against trolls, Dark Wizards, goblins, and more as you face a dangerous villain threatening the fate of the wizarding world.
Hogwarts Legacy is scheduled to launch worldwide for PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S and PC on February 10, PlayStation®4 and Xbox One will launch on April 4 and Nintendo Switch on July 25