While the Ghostbusters franchise has had its ups and downs in pulp culture over the years, the core idea of paranormal rat catchers has always leant itself to a game, and so Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is here for another round of busting, with an Ecto Edition Switch release of the 2022 game.
The game is cross-platform, so the pool of players is big enough that you won’t have too much of a wait on your hands, and you can always try a private match with AI if you want to hone your skills before getting out there, but, generally the variety of experience is limited.
The game could thrive if it happened to be dished out free on multiple platforms at once, bringing all the Ghostbusters enthusiasts together to have some fun with the experience...
If you can get a group of friends together, it’s a different story, combining parts of Dead By Daylight and Left 4 Dead in a package with a few unique quirks. Over time you can beef up your character’s kit, and unlock additional cosmetic options, but otherwise the replay value is limited to a more creature-focused mode alongside matchmaking.
Musically, besides the main theme, the rest of the score is a little heavy-handed, a bit too eager to be playfully fun and a little too loud to really gel with the gameplay (though of course this is easily adjusted in seconds).
Technically, this version does show cracks here and there, with some texture pop-in and a few low quality textures in general, but it still plays fairly smoothly and is robust enough to give you an end-to-end experience that isn’t distracted by bugs or crashes.
In all, the game achieves what it set out to do without really showing us anything we haven’t seen before. It feels like the sort of game which could thrive if it happened to be dished out free on multiple platforms at once, bringing all the Ghostbusters enthusiasts together to have some fun with the experience.
As it is, it’s not an essential experience on Switch, but certainly a serviceable one and something which younger players in particular might get a kick out of.
One of our favourites from EGX 2022 is finally out and ready to be put through its paces, gather round as we give you the lowdown on Noname Studios’ Worldless.
ALRIGHT, WE'LL BITE, WHAT'S ABSORPTION?
While defeating enemies is all well and good, the ultimate test in combat is to weaken and then absorb the essence of your foes. While you can get away with just winning encounters, really to gain physical or magical skill points in serious numbers, you’ll need to squeeze them out of your enemies.
To do this, you need to hold your own in combat long enough to fill a meter, and then trigger a timed series of button presses to complete the move. The trick is that the weaker the enemy, the more prompts will be revealed. If you try to take a shortcut, you’ll be presented with prompts obscured by question marks and have to try your luck.
Fortunately, the presses you do get right do count for the next time around, so you can come back and complete the sequence rather than starting from scratch.
It feels somewhat similar to Pokémon’s traditional catching system, but without the random element of unfairness when that Squirtle you thought was in the bag manages to run away.
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT?
This is always a hard question to answer, as it’s so subjective. That said, the balance between frantic button presses and really working out the optimum timing of counters to protect your shields and give you a fighting chance in harder battles takes a while to get the hang of.
There’s the odd boss too, usually larger and testing your skills so far to the limit, as you might expect, but there’s no sense of an uneasy difficulty spike.
What is encouraging is that a failure in any face-off doesn’t mean all is lost – you can go again with everything reset, no questions asked.
Any battle where you didn’t absorb the enemy also remains on the level for you to revisit later, perhaps when you’ve picked up a few skills.
ANYTHING YOU WEREN'T A FAN OF?
The map and skill trees, while very much in keeping with the style of the rest of the game, could be a little easier to follow.
Otherwise your mileage will vary depending on how much patience you have for roguelike trial and improvement when it comes to the combat, and the platforming side is solid without really breaking the mould or really making you sit up out of your chair.
Worldless is a beautiful, challenging journey which has some very clever design layered on top of a solid, fun game.
Depending on your mood, you might find slogging away for long sessions a bit of a grind, but the satisfaction when you get the hang of an enemy and steal their power is huge.
Definitely not one to discount as “just another indie game”.
Start your engines racing fans, it’s time for a big motorised party as the latest iteration of Ubisoft’s racing franchise The Crew drifts onto our screens with The Crew Motorfest.
Though we’re admittedly far from racing experts, we’ve taken Motorfest for a quick spin to see if it can hold its own in the Forza Horizon-dominated party racing scene in our mini review series, Taken for a Quickie.
Let’s powerslide into it…
Do you feel the party atmosphere?
om the starting line you’re invited to create a character, starting with one of a series of archetypes in some sort of hipster convention line-up, and then your new character is immediately thrown into the Motorfest itself.
You’re introduced to playlists – a curated series of races with a loose theme connecting them together – and given the map to explore, but if you choose a waypoint too soon it will get wiped and you’ll be steered towards the objective instead. Bit of a buzzkill.
Doing the directing is your AI assistant Cara (seriously). Their upbeat British voiceover is a little on the eager side for our taste, and goes a long way to setting the tone of the initial part of the game.
Generally, it comes across like a new kid at school who really, really wants to make friends, rather than a chilled out, free-roaming party experience where you can do things at your own pace.
I see it’s a “Motorfest” not a “Carfest”?
Well spotted! There are other types of vehicle in this game, specifically boats, planes and motorbikes – and there's even a quad bike.
While we didn’t explore them much in our limited time, there’s the option to mix up your play experience by hot-swapping to a different vehicle type every now and then – but they aren’t available straight away.
Rest assured, it’s still a car-focused game at heart, but a lot of time and effort has been put into having these other vehicles be more than just a gimmick, but legitimate additional strings to Motorfest’s bow.
What about the “crew” part?
Like previous entries, there is a big focus on multiplayer and how it can enhance the experience. Since the game is always online, unlike some other titles, there’s no option but to see other drivers zipping around as you explore.
When you start, you’re on foot and can wander around a bit before getting in your car, to give you the opportunity to crew up with other players. The reality though is that most already seem buddied up, and online interactivity in games like this is hit and miss across the board, so you certainly can’t rely on it – unless you already have a premade crew of your own.
Once you’re joined up, if you get invited to an event you don’t have the vehicle for, you’ll be loaned one, just like in the singleplayer playlists.
Is there anything you don’t like?
While destruction in racing games isn’t everything. Interacting with other roadsters in general Motorfest feels a little…off.
While you won’t smash into fellow players in freedrive – they become ghost cars whenever you get close – you certainly can crash into AI traffic.
While it’s certainly sparse, especially for a vibrant island of over a million inhabitants, the times when you do come across other cars, you can be stopped dead if you aren’t careful.
There’s no shunting other cars out the way either, you’ll think you’ve smashed into a rock.
Since there are so few NPC vehicles trundling about on the roads, and you don’t challenge them to races like you might in say, Burnout Paradise, it almost feels like an afterthought left in from early in development to try to bring some life to the island outside events, which can feel a little lifeless for such a colourful holiday destination.
The end result is an experience which is a little isolating when you're playing in singleplayer, rather than getting you excited to join crews, or build one of your own, to take the fun up to 11.
So, what’s the verdict?
There are a lot of tried-and-tested concepts executed well here, though those looking for more than mere dashes of creativity and the odd sprinkle of genius might be driving home with a flat tyre.
The look and feel is on point, if a little over-the-top to really feel like its substance could ever live up to its energetic style, and the experience of driving is rewarding.
The trio of difficulty options presented at the outset, which will be brought up again if you find yourself sailing through events a little too easily, are nice and straightforward and the act of actually driving isn’t too complicated.
Being an ongoing live experience though means timed playlists and microtransactions are here from the outset, which won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
The experience as a whole is a good bit of fun though, a commendable first effort following a sharp left turn for a series which began with the original protagonist getting let out of prison.
The Crew Motorfest is a solid experience which should be more than enough to get your engine revving, but, depending on how much you throw yourself into it, your mileage may vary.
There's nothing quite like frantic same-screen coop action. While there are many similar experiences out there across consoles and PC, nothing quite has the same combination of challenges and chaotic moments as Manic Mechanics, and the Switch is the perfect place for it.
The 25 levels offer an impressive mix of hazards and challenges to make your time in the garage even more manic, one particular favourite takes place, inexplicably, in a bowling alley, where you must avoid NPC bowlers themselves while flapping around.
In the later levels there are even more things to worry about, as you start to reassemble vehicles on a production line, where they will only accept certain missing parts in missing places. This is where the concept of communication really comes into play.
While it is possible to play Manic Mechanics yourself, unfortunately without helpful AI pals to assist you the garage can be a very big and unwieldy place – even with the ability to dash and throw items around to help speed up the repair.
The difficulty is well balanced...as getting through levels, with a bit of luck, isn’t too tough, but feeling like you’ve really got the hang of it is another story...
When combined with three friends though, it really takes the game to a new high, as you panic, rush and generally spam controls hectically, trying to beat both the cog score for the level (basically a one to three rating) and the high scores on the board.
There aren’t any individual scores, so your teamwork is what makes the magic happen, and everyone gets to revel in success together. The difficulty is well balanced though, as getting through levels, with a bit of luck, isn’t too tough, but feeling like you’ve really got the hang of it is another story.
Between levels, the overworld has some fun little elements, but no mini games or anything for you to really feel like you need to spend time there. The levels are split into fun themed zones however, and seeing the aesthetics gradually shift and that be reflected in the levels themselves is great fun.
There are a bunch of characters to choose from, but no character customisation, which might have been a nice way to take the character element up a notch without affecting gameplay.
In all the experience has just the right amount of moving parts to make each level feel different and gradually build in complexity to its chaotic and, appropriately, manic peak.
As a party game, this game slips in right alongside other games in this genre like Moving Out, Overcooked 2 and even one of our forgotten favourites – Catastronauts, as a fun time which has only a few controls to remember but takes a long time to master.
Do yourself a favour and pull into the garage to get a full multiplayer service and MOT immediately.
It’s time to save the galaxy once again, as our favourite ginger Jedi, Cal Kestis, and trusty droid companion, BD-1, return, after five years since beginning their fight against the Empire in Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, to face their greatest challenge yet.
While the landscape is even more sprawling than before, fortunately, there are mounts to help you navigate around and discover different secrets, as well as more (perhaps a few too many) shortcuts to connect the world together, as well as being able to use the meditation save areas as fast travel points.
The gameplay itself is similar to its predecessor, though perhaps with even more of a reliance on climbing around than before - though thankfully you do retain the upgraded climbing speed from the latter part of Fallen Order from the get go.
Cal continues to be both relatable and charming, but it's the adorable BD-1 who is still the true star of the show...
If puzzles, and clambering about, aren’t your bag though, you might find the experience a bit choppy, as encounters generally feel more intermittent than before. Though when you do get into a battle, especially with some of the larger creatures and sub-bosses, you’ll be glad there are a handful of new lightsaber stances to use, two of which you can equip at a time, which help keep combat fresh and dynamic throughout.
The Star Wars universe is built on its characters, and Cal continues to be both relatable and charming. While he doesn’t have the same, intense inner struggle we saw in the previous game, we can all relate to working hard and feeling as though we’re getting nowhere. But it's the adorable BD-1 who is still the true star of the show, of course, and you can even customise him in all sorts of ways this time around.
Sad news elsewhere in customisation is that the amount of poncho available for Cal himself are limited, though customisation overall has had a complete tune up. Since it is third-person, you do get a chance to see Cal’s threads in all their glory, and the character animation is fluid – especially when swapping between different saber stances.
Skill upgrades return, with a few different trees to explore, and one for every stance, so you can really double-down on being the biggest badass possible with the claymore-style, crossguard lightsaber.
On top of that are perks, which take up a different amount of slots depending on their power, and act as passive buffs for Cal, allowing for even more customisation to your specific playstyle.
The background characters are good fun as well. Our personal favourite was an aggressively Scottish able seaman called Skoova Stev, who you’ll find in various parts of the overworld searching for rare fish species, which you can then see in the aquarium back at home base.
The actual act of finding the fish is fairly mundane, as you’ll usually just stumble across him, but on each encounter he’ll reveal a little more of a long, rambling story, as well as just generally having a bit of fun with you. These sort of characters are totally ridiculous and yet 100% Star Wars.
The feel of this series, both the first game and Survivor, has always been very true to the franchise and it’s definitely one of its strengths. Joining Cal feels more meaningful because of how naturally he fits into this galaxy, and you feel like you’re making a difference, as the scale of the story is kept under control and not tied too closely to any big moments.
Whether the destination outshines the journey doesn’t really matter here, as the adventure you’re on is exciting and compelling, delivering exactly what’s promised in the most authentic feeling of being a Jedi for anyone outside the theme parks’ Galaxy’s Edge experiences.
Hopefully we haven’t seen the last of Cal and BD-1, and this is a chapter well worth Force jumping into.
There’s nothing simple about making video games, which is why when a game comes along which goes out of its way to create an experience based on a few simple principles which really works, it’s worth sitting up and taking note, and Planet of Lana is that game.
The story plays out in just over three hours, with a few new abilities unlocked along the way, and a constant is the beautiful soundtrack. The score is almost hypnotic, with its calming influence bringing the expansive world to life as a peaceful utopia, punctuated by creeping strings as the threat of danger from the robots on the hunt for Lana, which will not hesitate to take her out on the spot.
Planet of Lana is a beautiful journey which transports you to a peaceful, and tense, other world which is fun and satisfying to explore...
Controlling the character lacks precision in parts, making pulling of complex manoeuvres challenging, though if you feel like you have to do something particularly intricate, you’re probably overthinking it. It’s when you know what to do, but the intentional lag between button press and action catches you out, that the frustration starts to build.
Fortunately, there weren’t any moments where we felt really stuck on a puzzle, thanks to a forgivable but challenging difficulty level, and solving them was consistently satisfying.
Outwitting the enemies requires both patience, persistence and, crucially, the ability to not fly into a blind panic, choose chaos and try to run past everything. More often than not, there’s really only one way to get past a situation, which means that, besides a few collectable shrines, there’s not a lot of replayability here.
There is a great one-and-done, charming experience here, which – while more common in the indie space – is still hard to come by and definitely endearing. Lana’s determination and optimism comes through with just a few words, as does the emotion of how important her connections to other characters are to her.
Planet of Lana is a beautiful journey which transports you to a peaceful, and tense, other world which is fun and satisfying to explore. While it could have been too one-note, the diversity in the locations and the gradual development in the game experience pulls you through.
The gaps between gameplay sections do occasionally feel as though they are padding for time, but, largely, the mechanics, including the dream sequences which flash you back to the beginning of the game, all come together to create a cohesive and satisfying experience.
Developers Wishfully have done a great job in making this game feel polished and complete, delivering a thoughtful, well-executed platforming experience that is well worth the time.
It's been 10 years since the second iteration of Relic's famed gritty World War 2 RTS Company of Heroes released and finally the third game is here with new features, factions and for the first time a console edition.
a PC port then, how's the console controls?
For the most part, it's a fairly successful carry over, utilising the 'press LT' to show options wheel that most RTS games use for console. We found nearly all the commands we wanted were easy to access and there weren't too many to remember.
That said, we did have some issues with selection as A both selects and deselects units (click on empty terrain), except in some circumstances when it's not and B deselects the order - it would have been simpler to stick to the normal A to select B to deselect formula. Relatedly we found unit selection could be oversensitive and a single click would select multiple units without our intention.
There's also no quick way to jump around the map for console either, and we couldn't work out how to chain orders when playing online or outside of Tactical Pause. One jarring act of laziness is that you can't remap any of the controller buttons, but a full keyboard remap option is available.
Well not quite ideal, but what's it like to play?
One thing this game has going for it is that it's an exciting RTS to play by virtue of the amount of work that's gone into the visuals and environment interaction (or more aptly, destruction). The graphics by and large are decent but the main focus is the chaos of battle: Explosions kick up huge amounts of dust and debris, almost all scenery can be reduced to rubble and after a lengthy battle the ground will be mostly craters and blood stains (the game does not shy away from showing violent deaths) which unlike most games do not fade so the end of a match is a messy sight. Infantry animations have been improved since the previous game and running, vaulting and such all looks pretty smooth and natural.
The AI performs fairly well for the most part, but some of the path-finding is a bit wonky and we frequently found our tanks advancing into combat facing backwards negating any armour advantage. With regards to the enemy AI it's not the smartest in terms of flanking but it makes up for it in aggression – even in a standard difficulty skirmish we found ourselves swamped with enemy attacks within minutes unable to break out or build up forces. Like most RTS games there is an element of RNG to combat which helps prevent instant death but can also lead to some almost comically long battles with troops metres apart missing constantly (think that Viva La Dirt League skit).
...there was a bit of dubious tone discrepancy with gameplay being us fighting for the Germans while the cutscenes tell us about the awful things the Germans are doing...
Is there much content?
There's three main gameplay modes to choose from: the newly added dynamic campaign for Italy, a standard story missions set for the Africa front and your typical skirmish/multiplayer map control modes. The dynamic campaign is an interesting idea combining an Advanced Wars like turn based top down strategy game with RTS gameplay battles for capturing points, and there's choices to make in terms of your route which will please or displease three faction leaders – however this feels a little tacked on as it's not like you're choosing your own route but instead essentially choosing which upgrade tree you want to go with which is basically what each leader is, albeit with more bickering than a normal upgrade tree has. It's a decent premise but we feel it would have worked just fine as a normal cutscene and mission mode.
Speaking of which there's the Africa Operation, in which you help Rommel charge his way through Africa, with decent mix of assault, defence and infiltration missions. It feels a bit short though, cutting off after a handful of missions at El Alamein – a missed opportunity to swap to the British side as they push him back to let us use some different vehicles and new scenery. We also felt there was a bit of dubious tone discrepancy with gameplay being us fighting for the Germans while the cutscenes tell us about the awful things the Germans are doing.
The two skirmish options are a capture all points or elimination mode for up to 8 players/AI (4v4), though it's a little disappointing how despite their appearance in the story the Italians are not a playable faction, instead we get the Germans twice (in grey or yellow flavour), and will presumably have to buy the Italians as DLC later. It's also exceedingly hard to come back from getting pushed back to base with little point in even trying when you have next to no resources coming in by default – speed and aggression is key.
And the verdict?
Overall we've enjoyed our time with this game, though we spotted a few control issues, visual bugs and minor historical quibbles it's a solid addition to the rather sparse console WW2 RTS market, and though PC is clearly the intended way to play it performs well enough and offers an exciting dose of visually spectacular war action. Though with Sega laying off numerous Relic staff post release we'll have to wait and see what new content it gets down the line.
With a mix of swashbuckling, platforming and punishing combat, Curse of the Sea Rats is here to show you a hand-drawn art style has more dimension than you might expect in this "ratroidvania". We took it for a quickie to find its buried treasure.
So who is your character anyway?
You’ve got a choice between four characters, each with their own sprinkling of backstory and upgrade trees. The tale begins back in 1777 with the Royal Navy flagship caught in a storm and cursed by a pirate-witch, Flora Burn, turning our four pirate heroes and the entire crew into rats.
The captain dangles the carrot (or should that be a block of cheese…?) of freedom if Flora is defeated, breaking the curse, and so off you go to explore the surrounding shores, which seem to be filled with not just the pirate-witch’s minions, but angry sea creatures too.
What's it like to play?
The visual style is slick and the performance doesn’t have any problem keeping up with any furious button mashing that may or may not be going on, and traversing through the worlds is fairly painless. The areas you can jump to are fairly clear and there’s a slide move and a few others which perhaps don’t get as much play as they could.
When you start to get to dealing with enemies things are a little less smooth as you find yourself taking damage from just grazing them, more so than being attacked. At the same time, the parry move has a very specific, slow timing, so you need to press the button about a quarter of a second before you need to be protected.
All this leads to combat encounters being a case of trial and improvement, and with only a few safe spaces the journey back to where you actually want to get to can feel frustratingly far.
Sounds like it made you a bit seasick…
Platformers can be hard work for me to begin with, and adding in some harder bosses thanks to incremental buffs for levelling up and you’ve got a recipe for a frustrating and punishing time.
If you thrive on that sort of a challenge then the game will keep pulling you forward, but for me the need to gain 10 or more levels just to break the first boss put me on the back foot almost before I’d begun.
That said, it’s clearly well made and the characters have beautiful designs, and the enemies have a lot of ingenuity to them too, even if some of their attacks are annoying in a way only a 2D platformer enemy can be.
So what’s the verdict?
Curse of the Sea Rats grabbed my attention when I first played it back at EGX and the finished product is every bit as impressive as the first impression. It is definitely worth checking out if you are into these creative mix of genres the team has created.
It's been seven years since the animal party game Ultimate Chicken Horse came out, and now after numerous new content over the years, there’s a fresh "Shellebration" update, so we thought it was time to take it for a quickie.
How’s that new level you mentioned?
The latest addition to the very impressive levels roster, which sits at an impressive 19, is The Metro, which includes the hazard of a train occasionally whistling through to electrocute you horribly.
The rest of levels all have their own memorable elements or challenging quirks too, including The Waterfall, which has you clamber from behind the waterfall itself around a ledge anti-clockwise, creating a particularly nasty choke point where all sorts of mayhem can, and will, occur.
Was there anything you didn’t like about it?
To begin with, if you jump straight into a multiplayer game without having played before, it can be a little challenging to work out exactly how it all works.
Fortunately after even a single round, and certainly by the time the first game is over, everyone will have the hang of it – or may have stormed off in frustration.
When we played this time, fond memories of the time we spent with it way back when came flooding back.
There’s the odd bit of visual lag here and there for other players’ movement, but nothing that ever affects the game.
You’d say the game, and the Shellebration update, are worth checking out?
Given that the update is free, and all the new content can be unlocked in-game, it already seems like a no-brainer, but more than that the game is great fun to play and stands the test of time, giving bags of replayability.
If you still need any convincing though, here’s a reminder of just how absolutely terrible Sam and I are at the game in our now five-year-old Let’s Play:
After 11 films, multiple theme parks and countless games, the wizarding world of Harry Potter needs no introduction, and the release of Hogwarts Legacy has, hardly surprisingly, been hotly anticipated by franchise fans worldwide.
With great anticipation comes high expectations however, and to bring the world of magic alive in a way which feels immersive and brings players the sense of joy and wonder they’ve come to associate with the franchise as a whole is no mean feat.
It’s exploration where the game puts its best food forward however, as you walk the perhaps familiar streets of Hogsmeade or step into The Great Hall and stare up at its enchanted ceiling for the first time, a wave of nostalgia pushes you to explore further. Even unfamiliar areas have little touches of environmental design which almost convince you they were put there just for you.
Hogwarts feels as sprawling as the films and books before them have shown, but the level of decoration and fidelity in some of the textures and small details really shine...
While the story doesn’t really delve into who your character is, other than they are special, the game starts dark and only gets darker, with the cancellation of Quidditch an early indication of the sinister events to come.
Narratively, the goblin rebellion takes centre stage, and the game revels in delivering a wink and a nod along with its history, giving familiar characters’ surnames to the ancestors of our favourites, since the game is set in 1890 – long before both He Who Must Not Be Named and Grindlewald.
Not having familiar faces around lets the game stand on its own though, and is a really good move on the part of developers Avalanche. Their version of Hogwarts feels as sprawling as the films and books before them have indicated, but the level of decoration and fidelity in some of the textures and small details really shine. It’s fair to say the titular school definitely got the lion’s (or hippogriff’s?) share of the effort however, as some of the countryside feels a little sparse and repetitive as, understandably, few locations are as memorable as Hogsmede or Hogwarts.
The visit to Azkeban, exclusive to players who are sorted into Hufflepuff – which I hopefully don’t need to tell you is one of the school’s four houses – is a little underwhelming, but feels like a location that could be built out with story DLC which sees you called to help a mass breakout, Arkham Asylum style.
Other areas where the game falls short are some of the quality of life options which you feel as though are expected these days. For example, the game’s gear system, which lets you equip a collection of different outfit pieces, to give you buffs to attack and defence, can’t be hidden in dialogue, which can undercut your character’s concern as they nod solemnly in a huge, fancy top hat the Mad Hatter would be envious of.
Dialogue in general could be a little tighter. Professor Fig, the main quest-giver and your mentor at school, feels well fleshed-out, but other characters have voicelines which have a hamminess, only exaggerated further by their over-the-top or just stereotypical delivery, which can cause some characters to grate pretty quickly.
Early on, you’re given the impression one or two students would often be accompanying you on your travels, and especially in the schools underground-but-everyone-knows-about-it dualling wands club, but after a quest with individuals their appearances are few and far-between, possibly to avoid comparisons to the original Potter trio.
When you do interact, you’re given options of how to respond, usually straight or sassy, but the outcomes are inconsequential. Perhaps a full morality system and branching dialogue and experience trees might be a bit much to ask for from a game already stuffed to the brim with systems and sub-systems, but something to give your character’s actions more weight wouldn’t go amiss.
In terms of technical performance, the PS5 handled the game’s dense environment well despite us pushing it with full HDR settings. Occasionally, your character isn’t very well-lit in dialogue, for example, and now and again you’ll get caught on some terrain or find yourself waiting for the room to load behind a giant castle door, but for an open world with flying incorporated the navigation ought to be a nightmare, so to find it is surprisingly good is a pleasant surprise.
Speaking of flying, the pure fun of just zipping around the grounds, looking to the beautiful horizon as the light reflects off the lake can’t be overstated. Broom flight, and, later, beast flight, in general does seem underused, though at the same time if it was more integral it could derail less experienced players, as the controls certainly take some getting used to.
As a great way to explore, and just a fun way to pass the time, just pick a floo flame – the game’s version of fast travel points – on the map and hop on the broom and head over to it to see what you can uncover. Occasionally you’ll find yourself exploring a ruin which ends up being used in a later quest, but usually it’s just interesting to see what potion ingredients, magical beasts or enemies you discover along the way.
There’s an awful lot to consider, as we haven’t even talked about the Room of Requirement, which gives you a sandbox to conjure items and brew potions, or the puzzle minigames which unlock stashes of gear around the castle, but if you want to know what Hogwarts Legacy is like to play, then it gives you a little bit of everything you’ve ever wanted from a game set in the Wizarding World.
It won’t be for everyone, and it doesn’t feel like a truly unique experience which redefines gaming – in fact you can see the influences showing through fairly overtly, from the Destiny aesthetic to menus, Dragon Age 2 in the combat and UI, Mass Effect or Skyrim with its approach to quests and dialogue and even BioShock in some of the minigames, but it’s the first time we’ve seen these elements brewed up in quite this way.
Given how difficult it is to tie in a franchise with a game, especially one which is such a worldwide phenomenon, it’s hard to see how the team could have done a better job, fundamentally at least.
This won’t be the last we hear from the Wizarding World, but it’s sure to be the yardstick used to measure all other Potter-relating gaming content against for many years to come.
A note on J.K. Rowling: While the creator of Harry Potter was reportedly not involved in the creation of the game, it didn’t seem right to put this piece out without acknowledging that by making the decision to purchase and cover this game, I made a choice which does, however indirectly, financially support her and, by association, her views.
This hopefully goes without saying, but neither myself or anyone at Pass the Controller condones her outspoken views on gender, equality or feminism. Hopefully anyone part of or linked to the Trans community will appreciate that the decision to cover the game wasn’t taken lightly.