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‘Hogwarts Legacy’ survives its move to Nintendo Switch

‘Hogwarts Legacy’ is an open-world action role-playing game set a generation before Harry’s arrival at the legendary magic school. (Supplied)
‘Hogwarts Legacy’ is an open-world action role-playing game set a generation before Harry’s arrival at the legendary magic school. (Supplied)
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18 Dec 2023 10:12:30 GMT9
18 Dec 2023 10:12:30 GMT9
  • Game captures essence of Potter in a parallel, and now portable, world of magic and adventure

James Denselow

LONDON: The Harry Potter universe is huge spanning bestselling books, films that have grossed almost $8 billion worldwide, and associated merchandise and spinoffs. What it has lacked to date is a game to do justice to the complex storylines and intricate world building that J.K. Rowling masterfully created.

With that pressure in mind, the makers of “Hogwarts Legacy” had their work cut out for them, and pressure on delivering to expectations meant the game was only released earlier this year on the PlayStation 5 having originally been penciled in for a 2021 launch. 

The more powerful PCs and consoles allow gamers to watch in awe as the game’s classic and famous locations are revealed. The Switch gamers meanwhile have had to wait until last month for access to the game and, of course, must trade spectacle and power for portability and ease of play.

There can be little doubt that it is a trade-off, and you can almost see the steam rise from the tiny Switch as it struggles to process the game’s graphics, and there is a fair amount of waiting for sequences in the game to load. Yet the fact that “Legacy” is currently in the top-three bestselling games for the Switch in 2023 says a lot about the Harry Potter fanbase, as well as the game’s success in creating an immersive experience.

This is an open-world action role-playing game set a generation before Harry’s arrival at the legendary Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Controversially, you are not a bright young student joining the school for the first time but rather an older fifth-year student who has been granted special dispensation to start late, a mystery that the storyline unpacks over time. Before you are unleashed on the world you must choose your character’s appearance, name and even the way its voice sounds. 

Any hope of a smooth learning curve is dashed when on the way to Hogwarts a dragon almost cuts your student life short, and sets you off on a quest to discover who you are and why you have links to ancient magic. The game has an excellent spell mechanic, that takes a little bit of getting used to, but quickly finds you able to move between fighting zaps, defensive bubbles, the use of levitation, fire and so much more. As ever with open-world games, you balance the main quest with side adventures helpfully prompted by students dotted around Hogwarts castle itself. There are nice touches around personalizing your character in appearance and with wands and broomsticks of all types available. 

The game has a lot of dialogue, and you can see how it is a stronger draw to current Potter fans rather than new ones. In addition, despite some choice in how to handle conversations, “Legacy” lacks the jeopardy that comes with the deeper storyline of “Baldur’s Gate 3.”

What is more, after the initial dragon-based fun the early phases of gameplay can feel slightly slow going and onerous, with many of the trainings quite literally homework given by some of the school’s teachers. Nevertheless, the game still captures the essence of the Potter experience; a parallel — and now portable — world of magic and adventure. 

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