After Hogwarts Legacy, Forspoken deserves a second chance

Hogwarts Legacy And the prophesied are the two most talked about games of 2023 – for entirely different reasons. Despite a multitude of controversies about him, Hogwarts Legacy saw a successful launch based on positive initial reviews, strong interest from streamers and record sales for Warner Bros. The Harry Potter game has also attracted a significant wave of detractors, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a phenomenon among a sizable swath of mainstream players.

the prophesiedThe launch of, on the other hand, did not go so well. Hampered by questionable marketing, Square Enix’s open-world game was the subject of mockery even before its release. He quickly became the laughingstock of social media, as several “cringe-worthy” dialogue sequences went viral on Twitter. Lackluster reviews and disappointing sales seemed to seal its fate as a big budget disappointment, while developer Luminous Productions has since been absorbed by Square Enix.

The narrative behind these two releases couldn’t be more different, but the games themselves aren’t that different. Both are fantastical, story-rich open-world games built around magic-based combat and exploration. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, but the more time I’ve had to think about it, the more perplexed I am at the huge chasm in audience reception. For all its gritty dialogue and scattered design decisions, the prophesiedthe creative approach to magic is miles ahead of Hogwarts Legacy. If the Harry Potter game is to be hailed as a gender defining workSO the prophesied deserves a revisit without cynicism.

Are you a magician?

When I played Hogwarts Legacy, I didn’t come here as a Harry Potter fan. I’ve never read the books or seen the movies, but that shouldn’t have influenced my thinking much about it. Whether I’m personally connected to an IP address or not, I come to every video game looking for a mechanically engaging experience. I was curious to see how developer Avalanche Software could reinvent the open-world genre by replacing guns and swords with spells. Coming strictly from this point of view, I remained cold.

magic in Hogwarts Legacy offers a bit of a mixed bag. The core combat system, for example, revolves around a single-button magic strike that essentially fires like a polka dot gun. At first, battles just made me pull my right trigger over and over without strategy or nuance. The fight expands as players learn new spells, some of which help mask this thin core. Depulso knocks enemies back to help keep players from getting overwhelmed, while a transformation spell can turn smaller enemies into explosive barrels. Abilities like these can make for some exciting moments, though several of the game’s funniest spells have no effect on larger enemies and bosses – causing the back third of the game to sag considerably. shooter with a gun.

As I had fun levitating enemies in the air and slamming them to the ground, I was surprised at how unmagical the magic really is. Several spells act as stand-ins for standard video game tropes, painting core mechanics with an extra flash of color. There’s a spell that allows players to instantly kill an enemy when they sneak up on them, much like stabbing in Wolfenstein, while Crucio might as well be your typical poison attack. Each adheres more to the rules of action games than Wizarding World.

Magic outside of combat is even more disappointing. Revelio ends up being a catch-all for a lot of generic tropes – I laughed out loud when I used it for a generic “follow the footsteps” mission when the spell’s established logic seemed to go out the window. Alohomora is the worst offender, because it’s simply a way to trigger a lock picking mini-game. Why I have to physically pick a lock after casting a spell that magically unlocks doors is still beyond me.

Small decisions like this piled up by the end of my game. I generally felt like I was following the moves of a video game rather than experimenting with an arsenal of spells. Hogwarts wouldn’t make me feel like a powerful wizard like I had hoped; for that, I would need to visit the world of Athia.

Sorcerer Supreme

Although much of the discourse surrounding the prophesied zoomed in on his Marvel-like dialogue, his excellent combat and traversal systems have not received as much attention. In Square Enix’s action epic, Frey battles waves of corrupted creatures using a wide array of offensive and defensive spells. As Hogwarts Legacy, the game opens on its weaker foot. The first set of spells revolves around Earth magic and largely involves Frey dotting enemies from afar with pebbles.

This starter ability pack, however, offers more versatility than what we see at the end of Hogwarts Legacy. In this set alone, Frey can call down a shield of rocks to defend against attacks before detonating it on enemies, first a stony burst shot that can be charged and a rapid fire roll that ends in a final blast. Each has specific strengths, both in terms of which enemies they’re effective against and at what ranges they work best.

Frey uses magic in Forspoken.

This is, however, only a small piece of the puzzle. Frey gets several more magic sets at the end of the game, each one entirely separate from the other. Red magic turns the fight around giving Frey the power to slice through enemies with a flaming sword. This opens up further with blue water-based spells and green air magic. By the end of the game, I could throw a flaming spear at an enemy, rain down icy arrows over a wide area, and throw an electric dart that ping-ponged between enemies.

All of this before digging into Frey’s much wider range of defensive skills, where the prophesied really excels to make her feel like a powerful witch. The creativity of the developers is on full display here, as I can play around with a huge collection of inventive abilities. Bind binds enemies in weeds, Oubliette traps enemies in a floating ball of water, and Tempest summons a thunderstorm.

As Hogwarts Legacy, some of these spells also tend to re-skin base tropes with magic. Distortion, for example, works similarly to Imperio, tricking an enemy into fighting their allies. The difference is that the prophesied generally does a much better job of making those powers look like they’re the product of magic. Each spell is linked to an element, which brings a visual identity to each one. When I draw my stone shield, I can see it split into individual rocks that bombard my enemies. Likewise, activating the Surge ability triggers a detailed animation of Frey smashing her fist on the ground and sharp rocks springing up in front of her. With each attack, I feel like she’s connected to Earth in some way and is calling on some inexplicable connection to bend her to her will.

Frey uses magic to travel across the landscape in Forspoken.

This level of interaction with the world is also linked to the prophesiedapproaching the crossing. A major element of Frey’s skill set is her magical parkour, which allows her to bounce around Athia at lightning speed. The crossing is one of the prophesiedFrey’s best qualities, as the open world transforms into a jungle gym to test Frey’s powers. I can climb mountains in an instant, leap smoothly over any obstacle in my path, and finally slide across water. Even outside of battle, I can feel the full extent of Frey’s magic in every move; she is able to overpower Athia as she runs through her veins. The source of his magic is clear and I never question his logic.

Contrast spells

All of this contrasts sharply with Hogwarts Legacy. The magic there is more mechanical; I press a button and something happens. It doesn’t matter the internal logic of the world and it doesn’t matter if the effects of a given spell are consistent. They do what they have to do at all times to move the plot or solve a riddle.

The logical failures of Hogwarts‘ magic is most apparent in its Unforgivable Curses, which completely throw out all the rules laid down in pre-existing lore to just add a few extra attacks into the mix. In the source material, Unforgivable Curses aren’t spells that can just be cast casually. This requires the person throwing them to feel immense hatred towards the target, genuinely wanting them to suffer. In Hogwarts Legacy, I simply learn spells like Crucio on the fly and cast them on a friend to open a door. Later I’m out in the open world blasting random wolves with these spells. Unless my character is meant to be a sociopath, The Unforgivable Curses never feel like the evil thing they’re meant to be in the story. It’s just another thing on my spell wheel that I can use without consequence.

Two students bend over a cauldron in Hogwarts Legacy.

The more I compared the two, the more I came to appreciate the little details that make the prophesiedThe magic system stands out. He doesn’t just use magic as a thin veil to disguise typical video game gimmicks. It thinks more about where Frey’s powers come from, how they look, and how they allow players to interact with an open world in special ways. A Hogwarts Legacy the sequel might learn a thing or two.

the prophesiedRidicule is not undeserved. In all honesty, I like it about as much as Hogwarts Legacy, which is to say, I feel like they’re both boring and messy at the same time. Clumsy dialogue and terrible pacing constantly hamper the prophesiedthe brilliant gameplay of , which makes it difficult to fully connect unless you’re bought into its story. The bass is much lower in the prophesied, but the highs have been overlooked in some of the more superficial debates on social media about it. Give it a chance and you’ll find it has a genuinely creative approach to magic-based gameplay that sets it apart as an open-world game, even if it’s mediocre overall. Perhaps if he had a beloved IP address and lots of childhood nostalgia, he would have been received with the same generosity. Hogwarts Legacy was granted.

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