If you have played any of the other LEGO games you already know what to expect with LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7. Set in the LEGOfied wizarding world, the newest iteration never delivers on moving the series beyond what has already been done, but it does provide solid gameplay, plenty of fan service, and the charm the LEGO games have become known for.
Years 5-7 is probably one of the best LEGO games to date. The game revolves around the same formula as LEGO Star Wars, Batman, or Indiana Jones – break everything in sight, collect studs, and build up or break down blocks to open the path to the next section. While the other licenses had a stronger focus on action and may have faltered in completely capturing the essence of what makes those franchises great, Harry transitions to the LEGO style seamlessly and sticks to what the series characters do best – puzzle solving.
Hogwarts acts as a hub for the story sections, allowing players to explore the castle and surrounding areas to gather studs and track down new characters and collectables. Along the way, attending classes will earn spells used to unlock additional locations and help solve more complicated puzzles. Casting specific spells on inanimate objects causes them to react in unpredictable ways. Some objects simply explode, releasing the precious study innards, while using the correct spell against puzzle objects will have fireworks blowing up barriers, lawnmowers breaking down doors, and thirst-quenched flowers dropping keys.
Getting through to the next level is simply a matter of exploring the environment, blowing everything up, and then reshaping it with magic. There isn’t much of a challenge here, with experienced gamers able to blow through puzzles quickly, but it’s still satisfying to uncover the last ingredient to a potion, unlock a new spell, or dig up a key with Hermione’s cat.
Instead of constantly fighting grunt enemies, Harry and friends brew potions, assist troubled characters, and attend class. It might not sound as exciting as punching the Riddler in the face or blocking blaster bolts with a lightsaber, but it is the best fit for the world of Harry Potter. There are a few action segments, which do well to mix things up, but the finicky targeting system often had trouble determining whether to aim at an enemy or the crate nearby. Managing the multiple spells and abilities of each character, cooperatively surpassing barriers and discovering plot clues takes priority here – staying faithful to the tone of the books. Even more, the cutscenes detailing the story manage to keep the same tone while adding the typical LEGO slapstick.
In typical LEGO fashion, the story lightens up the darker tone set in the last books while doing amazingly well at keeping the player up to speed through multiple storylines – even though the characters are only pantomiming the important parts. You’d think it would be difficult to get a chuckle out of Potter fans with scenes that deal with the deaths of some important characters, but Traveller’s Tales manages to keep it lighthearted and funny with clever plot props and expressive characters.
LEGO and Harry Potter fit together like the top and bottom of two building blocks. We never got tired of watching blocks whirl around in the air to form new objects, stupefying everything in sight, or sitting through the often hilarious cutscenes. While it won’t surprise gamers with drastic changes to the LEGO formula, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 conveys the feeling of exploring Hogwarts and interacting with the series’ characters better than any other Harry Potter game out there, making it a must play for fans of the LEGO games or the Harry Potter franchise.