Lego Games should be primarily fun – and Lego Harry Potter – Years 1-4 definitely delivers on that. It is my favourite Lego game (together with Lego Marvel Superheroes) and playing it again made me see again why. The levels are short and punchy, you always make good progress and all in all it feels well balanced. I usually have some kind of rage moment or pet peeve in each Lego game. Harry Potter 1-4 however kept me happy almost all the time.
First of all, this Lego game can be played in around a week more or less casual gaming. I think that’s a nice time frame for a Lego title. Marvel Superheroes, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit are proper beasts compared to that. Harry Potter 1-4 has a nice and easy flow and your progress (measured by percentage) feels natural and always rewarding. After you have finished the story your are at 40%. That really is one of the shorter Lego titles 🙂
Progress gets slower the closer you get to 100% (which always happens). In this game it’s because you have to run around and find the final gold bricks and students in peril on the overworld. And here is probably my one point of complaint – the Hogwarts layout is very messy, so it’s difficult to keep track and you have no indication as to where the last students could be, as there is no Red Brick to unlock, that will show you all the locations. So you end up running around hours and hours and it’s basically not possible to do this without online help (or a few rage quits). However, I remembered this from my first playthrough, so I could keep calm and just finish the game to 100% again (with a little help, of course).
The Bonus levels in this game are exceptional. First of all I need to mention the final bonus level – after you have collected all golden bricks you can unlock Voldemort by destroying Lego-London. When I first started playing it I wasn’t too sure, but you get really into it and it’s just too much fun to hear the studs clicking away 🙂 As in every Lego game (as far as I’m aware?), this is the bonus level, where you have to collect 1,000,000 studs. I really like the look of Lego-London, by the way!
There are also 10 bonus levels in Gringotts you can unlock. They feel very much like concept levels, but that’s why I like them. They really have riddles (How do I use my characters? What do I need to do to get there?) at the heart of them. I am quite fascinated by them, as you can see that the developers have put those riddles into the levels throughout the game, but they are completely “disguised” by the Hogwarts scenery. Of course you know you solve little riddles to complete the levels, but it always comes with a story, so that is what you focus on. The bonus levels show the bare bones of the levels and that is very interesting to see. Some bonus levels also offer “Builder” levels, where you can design your own levels. I’m not good at that kind of thing, but I love taking a peek behind the scenes.
All in all, Lego Harry Potter – Years 1-4 is one of the strongest Lego games out there and certainly one of the easier ones to finish to 100%. It’s a perfect entry game for anyone who hasn’t played a Lego game before and it’s a nice treat for Harry Potter fans in general. The levels and the Hogwarts locations are lovingly created, always with a little twist of witty humour. The original film music adds to the atmosphere wonderfully and makes this game a perfect little escape to the wizarding world. Highly recommended!