Growing up in the 1990s to the early 2000s, it would not be out of the norm to be immersed in the world of Harry Potter with its wonders and magic that stir the imagination.
From the books to the movies, each iteration of the franchise has continued to inspire, with each release seeing the characters as well as real-life cast grows up alongside the readers and viewers, which create a magical experience for those who lived through this period.
Up to this point, video games released alongside the Harry Potter series have tried to copy this magic with varying success; with a PlayStation 1 classic that garnered a following to some more mediocre releases.
While the Lego spin-offs of Harry Potter have come close to capturing the magic of the series, fans were left with many underwhelming video game adaptations of their favourite movie series.
It was not until 2018 that there was a glimmer of hope as a leak for a new Harry Potter game was posted online that started the hype, which eventually led to the release of Hogwarts Legacy this year. The game went on to break the record on the online streaming platform Twitch for the most viewers for a single player game, previously held by Cyberpunk 2077.
Set in the 1800s and more than a century before the books and movie, Hogwarts Legacy is an open-world action role-playing game that places the player into the shoes of their own character that can be fully customised to their heart’s content in living out their wildest magical fantasy based on the wizarding world of the Harry Potter franchise.
Following the well-paced introduction, which includes a nostalgia-wrenching title drop that plays off the leitmotif of the music score that is heard in the movies, players can freely explore the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as well as its surrounding areas.
One of the fortes that Hogwarts Legacy excels in is Hogwarts itself.
Not only it serves as a location for players to explore but also as one where the player can encounter various characters including students, professors, ghosts, as well as the iconic living portraits as they go about their daily lives.
Furthermore, long-time fans of the series can finally explore the many corners of the fictional school that are only referred to or rarely seen, to the more iconic and well-known places as seen in the movies.
The magic of exploring would not last long if not for the many activities that the players can undertake, from finding Ancient Magic – which only the player has an innate ability to see and use – to capturing magical creatures for conservation ala Newt Scamander from the recent Harry Potter spin-off series Fantastic Beasts.
As an open-world game, exploration also plays an important role in which Hogwarts Legacy excels with the use of flying broomsticks and magical flying creatures as players can see the Scottish Highlands that Hogwarts and the surrounding area are set in from a whole new angle.
Another highlight of the game as a fifth-year student is not only going to class, which serves to move the narrative forward, but also learning many of the iconic spells.
These include the ever-useful Wingardium Leviosa that is used mainly in puzzles, to more combat-oriented spells such as Incendio and Expelliarmus, along with the earlier mentioned unknown Ancient Magic, all of which play a part in immersing players into the fantasy of being a powerful witch or wizard.
This coupled with the intuitive combat mechanics that take inspiration from the Batman Arkham and Devil May Cry series with its quick shift between attacking, parrying, and using abilities, all the while juggling enemies in the air, players can combine the many spells to dish out some deadly combos on foes.
Other aspects of role-play include the various in-game items that can be used to customise the player’s looks, such as robes, clothing, and more, which also confer statistical benefits as well as traits which are introduced later in the game and augment existing spells.
In addition, other customisation choices are also presented to the players which, while having very little impact on the overall game-play, can further immerse players into the wizarding world. This includes choosing one of the four houses as well as choosing and customising their wands.
While the game isn’t without its flaws, such as stuttering or game-play crashes which may vary as depending on platform, Hogwarts Legacy remains a game that is a love letter to long-time fans of the wizarding world, be it those who stuck around from the first books or those who have watched the movies.