I was actually a rather big fan of the Lego franchise for a while. I found Lego Star Wars to be a delight and greatly enjoyed other entries in the franchise. As time has passed, I’ve fallen a bit out of love with them, but I still have fond memories of many of them from the past. Lego Harry Potter was up there as far as my favorites. I was excited to get my hands on the Lego Harry Potter Collection and revisit the games.
So the Lego Harry Potter collection is both games (Years 1-4 and Years 5-7) combined. It’s nice having them all in one bundle, especially for the price. Harry Potter is a blend between what I would call the earlier part of the Lego games franchise and the later part. It sits in a nice in-between where it has, for me at least, the best of both worlds.
One of the reasons I put Harry Potter in the “earlier” franchise category is these games lack voices. Part of what made the Lego series for me was how silly and fun it was. I appreciated that the games didn’t take themselves seriously and were a tongue in cheek thing for fans.
Not having voices helped that in my humble opinion. Watching how the writers came up with creative solutions for the characters to act out essential parts of the story without the aid of dialogue made for some incredible humor. I don’t mean to completely knock the series after they started adding dialogue, but I felt something important to what made the Lego games so great was lost. Watching Harry Potter play out with the miming is excellent. This game leans into the humor and adds a lot of silliness which makes the experience something fun and relaxing.
What Harry Potter improved on from earlier games (that became a key feature in later games) was the great use of the overworld. Between story chapters, you can explore Hogwarts. The thing is exploring Hogwarts is not only optional but required. While the overworld was used in many games, Harry Potter was a great example of making it part of the overall story. In Harry Potter, you have story chapters, but you also attend classes to learn spells, hence the requirement of spending time in the overworld. This was a great feature that was implemented in many of the later games in various ways. In addition to attending classes, there is a plethora of things to do in the overworld and puzzles to solve. It helps to extend out gameplay and allow you to grab collectibles without having to grind the same story chapters too often.
On the reverse, the overworld is massive and difficult to traverse. Memorizing the layout of Hogwarts is your best bet for getting everything, yet it’s not an entirely reasonable task. Still, in the end, I enjoy how they used the overworld much more than I didn’t, so I would still mark it as a positive.
One of the most significant flaws with the franchise overall is that AI could be slow to help with puzzles which made the game a frustrating experience to solo. Harry Potter is a marked improvement where this is concerned. There are times where the AI can be frustrating, but they aren’t nearly as frequent. Playing through some of the earliest Lego games solo can be near impossible, and more than once I needed someone else to jump in with me (or use two controllers). This is not as much of an issue with Harry Potter. You might need to guide the AI a little bit, but with only a few notable exceptions it will usually figure it out and help you.
There is also a rare, but significant glitch in this game. Sometimes your hud will disappear. This means you won’t be able to see what spell you are on. That part of it can be worked around easily enough since as you change spells you can see their color on the tip of your wand. What cannot be worked around is the fact that any studs you collect will not count, which Lego fans will tell you is pretty important in this series. The only fix I could find when I got it was quitting and restarting.
Something that I think people will be divided on is the number of collectibles. For the most part, I like this, it’s great doing the puzzles and seeing so many variations of characters. However, there is a lot of them, and it did feel like many of them were “padded.” It’s nice to get a lot out of the game, but at a certain point, I felt like it was asking me to just do more for the sake of doing more.
The few gameplay flaws can be overlooked. The game looks good, the controls are solid, and the sounds are on point. It’s a great way to experience the fantastic Harry Potter franchise in another way. The charm and goofiness that made me a fan of the Lego games shine in these. It’s unlikely to be a “favorite” game, but it is an enjoyable experience and one worth checking out.
I was glad to get the bundle, and if you haven’t played the Lego Harry Potter games yet, I would highly recommend it. If you have already experienced them, it still might be worth going back for the trip down memory lane.