Hogwarts Legacy: Review | Completely Enchanting, A Game That Lives Up To The Hype

Hogwarts Legacy has drawn a huge amount of attention, both for good and bad reasons. But now that it's actually here, is it a good game? Here is our review of Hogwarts Legacy, and whether we think you should buy it.

Hogwarts Legacy Review
Here's our review of Hogwarts Legacy, and whether we think you should buy it. | © Portkey

Hogwarts Legacy has now been released, and as the hardcore fans go hunting for new potions, spells, talents, and mounts, quite a few onlookers are taking an interest. The game did break the Twitch streaming record after all.

If you're one of those who didn't pre-order but is noticing all the hype, you're probably starting to wonder whether this game really is as good as the critics are saying. For those who just want a brief opinion on whether Hogwarts Legacy is worth buying, you can find a summary below. But beneath that summary you can find each aspect of the game critiqued in greater depth.

Hogwarts Legacy Review | Summary: Outstanding (9/10)

If you're a Harry Potter fan you should buy this game, but even if you're not, it's probably still worth it if you like fantasy RPGs. It really is that strong.

Looking back on the long history of Harry Potter games, you can see why fans were initially skeptical of this game. Apart from the earlier titles, The Philosopher's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and Quidditch World Cup, Harry Potter games have been sh*t. Mainly because, until now, Harry Potter games have been developed and marketed as part of the merchandise package for each film. They have never felt like games made with passion; they have always and quite blatantly been cash-grabs.

The only big appeal of the Harry Potter games was that, because they had that precious IP, they were the only ones which could give you at least a semblance of the "student at Hogwarts" fantasy (and only Order of the Phoenix really did a great job with that). As a fan, I became resigned to the idea that Harry Potter magic simply didn't translate well into this medium, and the best we could ever hope for was Minecraft versions of Hogwarts. How wrong I was.

This game will give you one of the most captivating open-world experiences you'll ever enjoy, and it absolutely fulfills the fantasy of exploring Hogwarts. As you walk through the corridors and halls, your curiosity jumps seamlessly from one thing to the next, and many moments will leave you truly in awe. But the real key to why this is such a great game, and why we finally have the Harry Potter game we always wanted, is that it's a great RPG in its own right. It can give you the Hogwarts fantasy, but it also has solid combat, interesting puzzles, cool side-quests, and a satisfying amount of gear to grind for.

The only word of caution I would offer is to players who want a difficult experience or particularly dark themes. Because while you can roll like something out of Dark Souls, this game is much closer to Fable in its themes and tone. It's cute, and charming, and playing it is relaxing.

Hogwarts Legacy Review | Combat

The combat in Hogwarts Legacy involves a lot of rolling away from enemy attacks, and then sending the right combination of spells back. Different enemy types will require different types of magic to be used, and various plants and potions can act as grenades and buffs respectively. In other words, nothing new.

But it's okay that the combat is iterative, because it just works. Casting spells is satisfying, there's a good degree of system mastery to achieve via combos (although it never gets intensely difficult), and there's enough variation to feel like you have your own playstyle. Sure, 26 spells doesn't sound like a lot, but none of them are reskins of each other. Instead, all of them are distinct and useful in their own ways.

Hogwarts Legacy Review Classroom
You learn your spells in classrooms just like this. | © Portkey Games

The enemy variety is okay for low-level mobs, but bosses are a letdown. The boss fights themselves are challenging and fun, but there isn't that much difference between each one. This is definitely something a sequel or possible expansion could improve on.

Hogwarts Legacy Review | Story

The main story line is decent enough, but the real stroke of genius was completely avoiding the Harry Potter characters by setting the game in the 1890s. In this way, you get to feel like the main character. None of those iconic figures are sharing the stage with you, and that helps you to feel more invested in the storyline relating to your character's backstory.

The Goblin rebellion plot is not as strong, but it's intriguing enough to keep you playing, and Ranrok is a good villain. If you don't care about spoilers, here's the story of Hogwarts Legacy.

Hogwarts Legacy Review Common Rooms
As beautiful as the Common Rooms are, neither the story nor the various side quests lean as heavily on the House system as they should have done. | © Portkey Games

The best parts of the story are probably those that involve the companions. Sebastian Sallow in particular is a great tragic character, who gets a more compassionate and entertaining portrayal than any Slytherin student I can remember from J. K. Rowling.

But the weakest part of the story is probably the irrelevance of the House system, ironically. Multiple leakers were claiming that your choice of House would impact your character and the world around you, but in practice all it effects is the color of your clothes. And the beautiful common rooms, like the one pictured above, are completely underutilized.

Hogwarts Legacy Review | Open-World

The actual world of Hogwarts Legacy, and the joy of exploring it, is a complete success. The actual castle of Hogwarts is far more densely packed with secrets and activities than the rest of the world, but everywhere looks beautiful, and there's almost always something in the vicinity to engage with.

They do a particularly good job of weaving together all the visually iconic locations from the movies into a single unified world. The result is truly immense, and getting lost in it is pretty easy.

Hogwarts Legacy Review Flying Around The Castle 212
Flying around Hogwarts in the snow is everything you want it to be. | © Portkey Games

But even though Hogwarts is clearly the central location, the surrounding area is better than you might expect. Hogsmeade is completely charming, and much like the castle, you can go in every single building. And the fact they've built and designed so many rooms that most players will never go in, helps hugely with the immersion.

Better yet, when you actually get into all of these different rooms and locations, there's always something happening. The best example of this is definitely the kitchens, which is packed full of House Elves doing dozens of different chores and whistling along. The first time I went there I just wandered around and observed them all.

Hogwarts Legacy Review | Audio & Visual

The graphics are on par with other triple-A 2023 titles on next-gen consoles, but they aren't groundbreaking. The audio design is very well done however, with a great combination of intriguing sounds and snippets of music to be heard as you wander the castle. The portraits are a fantastic tool for the devs here, as they are all living and moving, and many of the people in the paintings are playing musical instruments.

There is one area where the lighting and the music comes together to produce something truly special, The Room of Requirement, and it deserves a mention. This is basically your home base, which is ostensibly used for crafting gear and farming resources. But whatever its intended purpose, the way it de facto functions is as a place of rest and relaxation. The Room includes a pocket-world called the Vivarium, pictured beneath, and it's a complete antidote to all the stresses and dangers that exist beyond the castle walls (and outside the game, in all honesty)

Hogwarts Legacy Review Room of Requirement
The Vivarium is the purest idyll I've ever seen rendered in a video game, it's genuinely relaxing just to be there. | © Portkey Games

I feel joy and peace in the Vivarium, and It's probably the single best thing that the game achieves. Especially when you begin filling up the space with rescued animals, you'll find yourself returning just to use it as a private petting zoo.

Hogwarts Legacy Review | Replayability

The upgrade and looting system will give most players enough of a grind to keep at it for about 50 hours, but only fans interested in side-quests and exploration will stick around deep into the end-game. There simply aren't enough high-level enemies to keep players grinding for combat purposes, but there's a huge amount of side-quests, and the majority are quite fun.

Completionists won't get bored quickly either, nor will those who always want their characters to have the coolest outfits. And thanks to the transmog system, you don't need to look stupid for the sake of stats while hunting down all the best-looking gear.

Hogwarts Legacy Review Zonkos Joke Shop
Exploring locations like Zonko's will keep you occupied for hundreds of hours. | © Portkey Games

Perhaps one thing worth mentioning if you're concerned about replayability is the possibility of an expansion or some kind of DLC. We don't have any official confirmation of DLC, but given the sales figures, and the obvious content gaps (Quidditch & Multiplayer), we think there's a genuinely good possibility of DLC.

Hogwarts Legacy Review | Conclusion

This game has far surpassed my expectations as a Harry Potter fan. I would happily recommend it to anyone who wants to live out the Hogwarts fantasy, or enjoys a more relaxed RPG. It isn't perfect, hence it didn't get a 10/10, but it's infinitely better than it could have been. And there are some things that Hogwarts Legacy does better than any other game I can think of.

If you buy the game, and you focus on mainlining the story and only dipping into a bit of side content, expect about 30 hours of playtime. But realistically, I expect most of you to sink hundreds of hours into this game.

Before you start your journey, here are some great tips and tricks for beginners.

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