Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Review (PS4)
Yer a Lego, Harry
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
While I loved my Legos when I was a kid, and was devastated when I had to get rid of it, and even went to Lego Land a couple times (may not have been to DisneyLand/World after I was a baby, but was lucky enough to be close to Lego Land), I never played a Lego game. And well, it looks like my first Lego game will be the Lego Harry Potter games. Mainly because I like Harry Potter and my first Lego game might as well be on a franchise that I like and grew up on.
Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 is exactly how it sounds. It goes over the first four years of Harry’s wizarding schooling, but everything and everyone are Legos. If you somehow have no idea what Harry Potter is and what it’s about, it’s about an orphan boy named Harry Potter who has to live with his horrible Aunt’s family, the Dursleys, who are neglectful and abusive to him. However, when Harry turns 11 he finds out he is a wizard and while the Durselys tried to get him to not go, the Wizarding World won at the end and Harry got an escape to a place that he quickly called home: Hogwarts. Where he got to learn everything about magic and being a wizard, a place that doesn’t put on a bunch of abuse on him and instead let him be him, and his friends that he makes before the school year even starts and later on as the years pass by. And this Lego game goes over his first 4 years.
I didn’t know what to expect for the cutscenes, but I quite enjoyed them and I did a lot of chuckles. This has no dialogue, just mumbles from the souls trapped inside with no way of opening their Lego mouths, so a lot of legwork had to be done by visuals. And I think they did a pretty good job, par from maybe when they’re hinting at the Chamber of Secrets. And with that, some changes had to be made, but they were good choices and a lot of them were to pull in humor. I was looking forward to each cutscene to see how the Lego version was going to approach a scene and while the “’Did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire’ said Dumbledore calmly” was robbed from us, I did not expect the others like the Weasley conga line or the cutscenes where the time turner was used. I’d also say that if you somehow never watched or read the Harry Potter books, you can tell what’s going on here. So don’t worry on that aspect.
So of course, you’ll be playing through Harry’s first four years in Hogwarts and the shenanigans that happened, but in Lego. Each year has six chapters that you’ll play through as you go through the story. Everything, par from a few things like fire, is made from Lego bricks and well what else is your first extinct than to destroy everything you can. Which will give you studs. Or use wingardium leviosa to see what happens which can be a funny animation. Some chapters will even challenge you to find all of the same interactable objects (like destroying all cobwebs here or animating all skeletons) which will give you a collectible. You will most likely spend most of your time destroying everything, and wingardium leviosa-ing everything, until there is nothing left.
While the books take place from Harry’s perspective, you don’t just control Harry. There are a bunch of other characters you can control, though that’s only in Free Play (which unlocks after completing the chapter). Each chapter and sometimes area will having others following Harry that you can switch to anytime. The teammates the game teams you with will help you get through the story as they will have aspects that are exclusive to them, like Ron with Scabbers who can scurry in pipes or Hermione who can solve the bookcase runes or Hagrid who is very strong.
Of course, with this being Harry Potter, there has to be spells and there are. You start with the basic spells that let you destroy objects, but you have to attend lessons to learn more, like the very useful wingardium leviosa and Lumos. While most aren’t to the point where you can use it all the time, there are places for each of the spells that you’ll find yourself needing to use in future chapters. You’ll also be brewing up potions that you’ll learn along the way and having to figure out how to find the ingredients.
Figuring out what spells to use, who to switch to, and generally figuring out what you need to do are the vast majority of puzzles in Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4. You’ll need items to get to the end goal to go to the next area or the next chapter, and you won’t find them just laying around for you to find past the beginning. I liked the puzzles here and the boss battles (though you’ll see the common denominator of waiting for something you can wingardium leviosa back to the boss). It’ll be easy for anyone that aren’t kids, though you should expect that, but a few puzzles did get me (mainly due to me overlooking something or not realizing I can destroy it) and I was in the mood for something easy and fun.
There isn’t much combat here, it is pretty meh and you really need to use aim as often times you’ll find it not landing properly (despite having it equipped) or hitting something else. Though the boss battles does take on a puzzle aspect as you mostly won’t be using your spells to damage the boss but rather wait for an item that you can throw back at them. This does get a bit old once you reach Year 4, but they do change up how each boss goes along with their attacks and the location (which attributes to how they attack you).
While this has a lot of things going for it, there are things that it didn’t do too well. I felt the puzzles where you stack actual Legos was annoying to control and wanting them to click together and then having them click apart when trying to add something or accidentally selecting that recently placed piece. Or having it click in the wrong place and it just doesn’t come off. The way the game also does selection for the spells tied only to circle (like wingardium leviosa) was also annoying, but you can just use the aim as it will auto-select the needed spell (though it takes an extra few seconds when it’s not a spell that’s used to hurt enemies or destroy objects).
When you’re done with the story, there is still a lot for you to do. There are a lot of collectibles that you can get. Each chapter have the same collectible sets that you’ll get by just playing, destroying/messing with the different blocks and decorations, or finding secrets that may require you to go back to that chapter later. Each chapter will have a Student in Peril that you’ll have to save, whether it’s them being bullies or tied up in a spider’s web; three character tokens that will unlock that character for purchase, and Hogwarts Crests, but you’ll need to collect all four pieces to form the whole crest. There are also Red Bricks that don’t pop up in every chapter, but it will unlock the ability to buy so you can turn on the cheat attached to it. Every chapter will also track how much studs, the money here, you collect which is counted towards a goal called True Wizard. While you’ll be using these studs to unlock unlockables you collect during normal chapters, this is another goal for you to get through and will reward you with a Gold Brick. Gold Bricks are another collectible, but these are more accumulative, as there are 200 of them here, which you can get by completing levels, getting all the collectibles and completing the goals in each level, and doing all the secrets.
Though, you won’t be able to get everything your first go around. Considering you’ll be going through multiple years, and not just one, you will be teased with objects that need a spell or potion that you’ll learn in a future school year. And some chapters will even have objects that require abilities that the character’s your teamed up with don’t have, which will require you to go back during Free Play once you unlock the needed character. A bit maddening if you’re like me and gets the urge to try and get everything the first time around, I gotta say.
Not to mention that there are extra levels for you to do. If you want a game with a lot of collectibles, or just have a lot of potential playtime attached, this will keep you entertained for days.
I really wished I knew how good Lego Harry Potter was when it was originally released, aka when I was a kid. We all know that the majority of licensed movie games are terrible and I just thought Lego Harry Potter fell into that category. But little did I know that it fell into the rare good category. While there were some duds here and there, I liked playing through Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 as the cutscenes surprised me with how funny they were, I did quite like the puzzles, and it was pretty fun. No matter if you’re planning on doing absolutely everything or just play through the story, Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 is worth it for Lego fans, Harry Potter fans, or those that like both.