Worst review ever

I would be the worst person in the world to review this new video game, Hogwarts Legacy. I don’t play many video games, and I dislike all the Harry Potter stuff — I got the books to encourage my kids to read, but found them boring and repetitive and full of plot holes myself. And ever since JK Rowling has demonstrated that she’s a revolting bigot. I’m not going to touch this game, let alone play it or review it.

The person you want to review it is someone who loved Harry Potter, who was a deep Rowling fan (at least once upon a time), and an experienced game reviewer. Something like this review in Wired. You can tell it’s driven by the disappointment the author feels.

When I was a kid, every word that flowed from J. K. Rowling’s pen wrote magic into my world, but now every word she puts out just hurts my heart. Every homophobic or transphobic thing queer kids hear growing up becomes a voice that follows them for a long time. We hear relatives, friends, and parents say awful things about us and to us. For a lot of us, we fight those voices every day. When one of those voices comes from the author who taught you about accepting yourself, a person you thought truly saw you and kids like you, it hurts in a way I honestly hope she never understands. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

The final assessment:

The story is rooted in anti-Semitic tropes. The gameplay feels dated. The graphics feel like they’re a couple generations behind. All the characters are one-dimensional. It doesn’t stay true to the established lore. Every character feels like an off-brand version of the characters we know and love. There’s no sense of place. No magic, no heart.

Yeah, I don’t think there’s any way I’d ever play this game.


  1. bigzed says

    This is honestly the kind of review I was expecting to see a lot of when information on this game started becoming more available, including trailers.

    Every piece of actual gameplay I’ve seen from this thing has led me to the conclusion that I wouldn’t buy it even if it were generic wizarding school game with no JKR/TERF/anti-Semitic-tropes baggage: as a person who spends a good deal of my recreational time on video games, it just doesn’t look like a good game.

  2. Chabneruk says

    Most reviewers and players agree that it is a pretty good game, all in all, with the most prominent criticism being that it is plagued by bugs in the PC version (Metacritic: 84, Userscore 8.6; Very Positive Steam Reviews). That being said, I am going to sit this one out, for obvious reasons. I do not want Rowling to have a single cent of my money.

    Sadly enough, the game seems to somewhat profit from the Streisand effect: With the controversy being mentioned far and wide, many people were made aware of this game – which, after all, is set in a world many adults have fond childhood memories of. I for myself was never a true fan, although I did enjoy the first books back in the day, due to Rowling’s obvious lack of talent in worldbuilding (the Quidditch rules, the “What, you have never heard of [important Wizarding World detail], Harry? Let me explain it to you!”).

    And of course, there is the “anti-woke” crowd, which is quite prevalent on gaming sides. The same people who sneer at others for preordering games now proudly proclaim that they just “have to” buy Hogwarts Legacy, because the LGBTQ-radicals have decried it and actually attacked streamers who wanted to show it on their channel etc.

    I can’t really blame people for playing, being an avid fan of all things Lovecraft. I hope they find joy in rediscovering their childhood fantasy. But no, I am not going to put on the sorting hat and wage war on the goblins with their moneymaking ways and their crooked noses, with Rowling sneering about trans people in the background. Nope. Not my kind of game.

  3. says

    Looks like people burning all those Harry potter books is getting vindicated here, except that the book burning are being done by those who are just as horribly transphobic and homophobic as Rowling is.

  4. moonslicer says

    I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books. It has nothing to do with the fact that Rowling is a trans-hater. I passed up the opportunity long before she started TERFing about. I’ve never been into fantasy very much (just not my cup of tea), and from what people were telling me about Harry Potter, I saw no reason to make an exception for that series.

    Then when Rowling blazed into glory with her “anti-transgender manifesto”, I was completely baffled. “Who is this woman?” Honestly, at times she comes across as a total bird-brain.

    As, for example, in the passage where she’s talking about a couple of trans-guys with eating disorders, and she clearly has got the idea that it was the eating disorders that made them trans. She talked briefly about her own psychological difficulties in her youth and concluded that (in my words) a bit more, and maybe she’d have turned out to be the son her father always wanted. Her blissful ignorance makes you gasp with wonder.

    Then she gets so pissed off at us because we refuse to accept the truth from her lips. We know she’s right. We know she knows more about it than we do. We’re just being stubborn. We’re clearly bad-minded people. She’s practically religious in her indignation: we’re undoubtedly hell-bent on going to hell.

    She’s one of those anti-transers who is so convinced that she knows the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth that the idea that she’s got it all wrong is inconceivable to her.

    And she’s got a whole slew of international best sellers to her credit? Well, OK. I never said she didn’t.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    I am a Stanislaw Lem enthusiast and it pains me that he expressed misogynic sentiments. Having said that, as a person immersed in the conservative Polish culture at the time (he was born 1920) it was inevitable some of that would rub off on him.

    Even Roald Dahl and his antisemitism might be explained (but not excused) by the British culture being saturated with all kinds of bigotry during his formative years.

    Rowling does not have that excuse. I do not know her date of birth but from the mid-sixties she must have been exposed to more modern mores not demonizing minorities.

    The flaws in the game seem like the ones you can expect from a quick make-money-from-it project without proper resources and without love for the source material.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Owosso Harpist @ 3
    Re. dumb bigots burning Harry Potter books.
    This gives me an excuse for this link…
    “God Awful Movies 57 The Unexpected Bar Mitzvah”
    The evangelists who made that film think they are enlightened while coming within an inch of blaming the Jews for their own oppression.
    At least this burning trash heap of a film is more fun than Rowling, if for the wrong reasons.

  7. raven says

    I never quite got around to reading Rowling’s Harry Potter books.
    A lot to do and too many other books to read.

    It worked out really well.
    About the time I started thinking about them, Rowling imploded and a lot of negative reviews started coming out.
    It’s a big world of books, so nothing was missed.

    A good book series for children and adults would be Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series.
    It makes the point that many of us, or maybe all of us, are misfit children, and there might be a place for us somewhere anyway.

  8. tacitus says

    the game seems to somewhat profit from the Streisand effect

    I doubt there’s much of an effect in this case. It’s thought to have cost $150 million to develop, which would make it the third most expensive video game in history, behind only Star Citizen and Cyberpunk 2077, and likely has a marketing budget well up into the top ten too.

    If there was no controversy, the hype train would have been in full swing anyway, with a similarly endless articles about the upcoming game in the gaming and mainstream press.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Apart from Bilbo, one children’s book I can recommend is The Face in the Frost.
    It features a magic mirror that provides a look at very boring foorball matches in the future. Alongside some real scares.

    Terry Pratchett wrote some books that can be read by both adults and children. I liked the girl who used her obnixious younger brother as bait to catch a dangerous water demon.

  10. Le Chifforobe says

    I have been reading the Upside Down Magic series with my daughter, and I like it so much more than Harry Potter. It’s about kids who don’t fit in, in a world where magic is normal. But the heroine is not some “chosen one”, she’s a kid who learns to stick up for herself and her ‘wonky’ friends too.
    I haven’t seen the TV adaptation–I hope they didn’t dilute the message.

  11. says

    I am a fan of Science Fiction (emphasis on science, as in technology), not very excited about fantasy, except as a diversion from the dark ages in which we live. And, there is a huge difference between the two. The Potter books were entertaining ONLY on the surface and as fantasy.

    But, since @3 Owosso Harpist, mentioned book burning, even though they may be the product of a bigoted mind, my organization is against ALL book burning, including the obscene fiction that is the bible and the potter books. The reason people burn books is to try to prevent people from ‘being groomed’. I know not everyone (how many I don’t dare guess) is capable of clear and objective analytical thinking. But, I hope that people will want to have knowledge of the good, the bad and the evil and make sound decisions on what to think.

  12. tacitus says

    Perhaps my favorite fantasy series from my childhood was The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. It’s not a wizarding series, and it was published in the early 70s, so I don’t know how well today’s kids will relate to it, but apparently it’s still a highly regarded children’s fantasy both in the UK where it’s based, and the USA, among school teachers at least.

  13. silvrhalide says

    @7 “It’s a big world of books, so nothing was missed.”
    Posted this on another thread but it bears repeating, under the circumstances.
    “Q: Nicholas Lezard has written ‘Rowling can type, but Le Guin can write.’ What do you make of this comment in the light of the phenomenal success of the Potter books? I’d like to hear your opinion of JK Rowling’s writing style

    UKL: I have no great opinion of it. When so many adult critics were carrying on about the “incredible originality” of the first Harry Potter book, I read it to find out what the fuss was about, and remained somewhat puzzled; it seemed a lively kid’s fantasy crossed with a “school novel”, good fare for its age group, but stylistically ordinary, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited.”
    “UKL: I liked the generosity and the sense of responsibility towards the future that were strong in the sixties and seventies. They are strong again, now, among people in the Green and anti-corporation movements, the anti-war and anti-Bush movements. A lot of people don’t get wise as they get old, they just get old.”

    @12 I loved them too. They are still sitting on my shelf.

  14. whheydt says

    Early in the second Potter book, I put it down and never picked it up again. I’m not sure how many of them my wife read–probably three or four–before she uttered the Eight Deadly Words: I don’t care what happens to these people. Didn’t rise to the level of throwing it against the wall, though (and that was known to happen occasionally).

  15. moonslicer says

    @ #5 birgerjohannson

    “Rowling does not have that excuse. I do not know her date of birth but from the mid-sixties she must have been exposed to more modern mores not demonizing minorities.”

    This is a point I have trouble articulating. But the point is that Rowling and her like don’t see us as a minority per se. They see us as a collection of lunatics, a random group of psychiatric cases who have got brainwashed or otherwise twisted into believing all sorts of nonsense about ourselves. We’ve gone off the rails. We don’t need any rights or freedom or that sort of thing. We need to get back on the right track.

    In my view, a given individual’s reaction to transgenderism is personal. Some find it repulsive or laughable or whatever, and their procedure, which Rowling herself adopted, is to get into what I call “antitransology”–i.e., the study or art of attacking transgender people. There are all sorts of anti-trans arguments and memes on the net and elsewhere, and that’s what they study up on. They learn how to attack us. They make no effort at all to understand what they’re really dealing with.

    For me the “antitransologists” are showing some personal immaturity. The world is a difficult place and there are some aspects of it that are simply beyond them for one reason or another, and they make no attempt to get to grips with it. They just want us to disappear so that they’re no longer outside their comfort zone.

    Our friends and allies, on the other hand, even if their understanding of transgenderism is a bit shaky in certain ways, have no problem with the concept that certain aspects of the world can be difficult, and they have the maturity to face those difficulties and try to understand them. They do see us as a minority like any other because they have a good idea of where we are.

    The clearest difference between the two? You will never, ever explain anything to the anti-transers. They simply don’t want to know. Whereas our allies will often enough try to clarify issues that they’re not sure of. I remember one time when a friend of ours was misusing the term “non-binary”. She’d simply misunderstood. So I explained it to her. No problem. She said basically, “OK, I get it,” and that was that. You will never get an anti-transer to do something like that.

  16. Tethys says

    Tacitus @ 12

    Perhaps my favorite fantasy series from my childhood was The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper.

    I third this opinion. I read everything that involved magic and mythology and this series was my favorite too. I can even quote some of the poem that threads through the books. My children enjoyed them too, and I’m going to gift my Grandchildren the whole series when they get to reading age.

    “And the snow with its whiteness, the sun with its brightness, all these I place between myself and the powers of evil!”

  17. rejiquar says

    “And the snow with its whiteness, the sun with its brightness, all these I place between myself and the powers of evil!”

    I absolutely love this quote, but I think it’s actually from Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time trilogy… A Swiftly Tilting Planet, iirc …the one w the unicorn? and, unfortunately some racist undertones. But those 3 books remain a great favourite.

  18. silvrhalide says

    @16, 17 Yes, it is from L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the Welsh rune.
    And yes, I loved that series too. Along with most of her other books, not all of which were about the Murray family. Although A Swiftly Tilting Planet” reeeeally has all the 80s tropes coming through… unicorns, crystal imagery… I loved it then and still have a lot of nostalgia for it now.

    The one you are thinking of from Cooper’s series starts with “When the Dark is rising, six shall turn it back… etc.”
    I’d get it down from the shelf but quarantine kitty is menacing a moth and I’d rather not give her an excuse to try to climb the bookshelf… again. There’s a reason the bookcase is now wired to the wall. :(

  19. Tethys says

    Yes, rejiquar is correct that my quote comes from the excellent Wrinkle in Time Series. I plead old and insufficiently caffeinated. It’s actually called Patrick’s Rune, which I don’t remember at all.

    Here is the complete Dark is Rising poem

    When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
    Three from the circle, three from the track;
    Wood, bronze, iron;
    Water, fire, stone;
    Five will return and one go alone.

    Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
    Wood from the burning, stone out of sound;
    Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
    Six signs the circle, and the grail gone before.

    Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold.
    Played to wake the sleepers, oldest of the old;
    Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
    All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.

    It’s funny how the themes of ancient myth still resonate in modern literature. “I see fire, on distant hills.” is a line from Grottasogr.



  20. chrislawson says

    birgerjohannson@9– Amazing timing! I read Face in the Frost just a few months ago, and I second your recommendation. Although I wouldn’t call it a children’s book. It’s more of a light fantasy adventure novel that teens could enjoy. Having said that, it has some interesting thematic similarities to Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore, which is a far superior novel and IMHO the best of the Earthsea stories so I’d recommend the Earthsea novels first and Bellair’s novel to those wanting more in that vein.

    Chabneruk@2– I’ve long since abandoned Metacritic. It never had a good system (the way it turns reviews into percentages was always shonky from a statistical view), and the proliferation of fanboi merchbait sites in its search domain has further polluted the value of its ratings. You only have to look through the listings to see clearly that some of the ratings bear little resemblance to the actual reviews. For instance, The Northman is a film that I liked more than most reviewers, but still think it was just good rather than great (although Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance is outstanding). And yet Metacritic lists it as an 86, with “Universal Acclaim” and “Must-See” tags. Now, how much a person might like the movie is highly subjective, but it’s pretty objective that the film received a lot of middling-to-antagonistic reviews and yet it’s listed as “universal acclaim.” Also, Metacritic doesn’t seem to do much to prevent review-bombing in its user scores.

    Rotten Tomatoes has a much better statistical system, even though most readers who complain about it don’t seem to understand how it works, but even so it too has been eroded by letting too many tinpot reviewers with a website into their search cohort. I still find it useful as a search tool for interesting new things to look for, but completely ignore its rating system.

    Cardinal rule of research: the inclusion and exclusion criteria are critical to good study design. Metacritic and RT’s refusal to make good inclusion/exclusion criteria means that their results are now useless…from an analytical point of view. From the point of view of sucking up to marketing departments, it works brilliantly.