We really hope nobody mistakes the ‘Years 5-7’ part of the title for a suggested age group. The LEGO games are always so lovingly crafted that children and adults alike find them entertaining. The previous LEGO Harry Potter game was surprisingly lengthy and had some moderately clever puzzles. Years 5-7 offers more of the same, but that’s not so much a bad thing.
Things kicks off in a playground which is rather apt as that’s what the game can be described as – a virtual playground. The focus is never on combat but rather messing around: smashing up objects and rebuilding them and casting spells on everything and anything just to see if something amusing happens.
Traveller’s Tales haven’t slacked off since the last game. Years 5-7 sports some greatly improved lighting and shadow effects. There is a sense of déjà vu for the first two chapters though – a lot of the environments from the previous LEGO Harry Potter have been recycled including most of Hogwarts.
Once Harry goes on the run during the second half of the game things pick up tenfold, with Harry camping outside in wilderness. There’s also a short Limbo-style 2D platforming section featuring silhouette animation which is quite nicely done.
In fairness the recycling of environments isn’t really the developer’s fault. You can blame J.K. Rowling for setting all seven of the Harry Potter books mostly within the walls of the same building for that. Also in the developer’s defence they have done their best to disguise old levels by employing different camera angles and adding a few new things to do, like the chance to visit Fred and George’s joke shop in Diagon Alley.
However, there’s no excusing that the majority of the bosses can be defeated in the same way – by catching projectiles and throwing them back.
An inclusion of a duelling ability isn’t anything to get excited about either – it’s a simple case of picking the correct coloured spell and bashing buttons to win. The new Diffindo spell fares better. Whenever you come across a wall of red bricks this spell let’s Harry and his cohorts create objects by tracing an outline with the analogue stick.
Another new spell turns Harry into a part time fireman backslash gardener giving him the ability to spray water all over the place. There are a few fresh faces to control as well who have unique abilities – one of the Weasley family members can be called in to fix broken machinery while Luna Lovegood can see hidden blocks by using a special pair of glasses.
Like before there’s a hefty amount of backtracking. Fortunately it never feels like a chore as every environment has been designed so that when you re-visit with a few new spells in your arsenal there’s something there to cast a spell on or break open which you couldn’t interact with previously. A trail of ‘ghost studs’ handily leads the way to your next mission to prevent getting lost while once the game has been done and dusted there are a wealth of cheats and extra characters to find and unlock. The achievements are less laborious to unlock this time round too.
Traveller’s Tales would have to be idiots of the highest order to release a bad LEGO game and devalue their most important franchise. Fortunately they haven’t – this is a game that’s both fun and creative. A little too similar to the last game perhaps but that LEGO magic still manages to shine through.