Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Review
With the exception of Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4, the video game adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s famed fantasy series have been somewhat hit-and-miss. A few of the games have gotten by and managed to convey a decent sense of what the books and movies projected ever so effortlessly while other installments have simply floundered. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 on the DS is a poor attempt at cashing in on the success of the current movie, and it is completely impossible to recommend this game to anyone.
Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a painfully straightforward affair. You run down long, empty corridors and use Harry’s wand to shoot evil wizards and witches. Along the way you can find hidden magic book pages, health potions, and other such collectibles, but the game is never rewarding enough to encourage exploration. Levels are generic, monotonous, and shallow; the whole thing has a cookie-cutter design to it that’s completely unforgivable.
To accompany the uninspired level design is a control scheme that is totally ludicrous. Every action is mapped to the touch screen. You pick up items, select commands, and attack your enemies by tapping the stylus to the screen. There are some hot key commands that allow you to use the buttons on your DS, but because everything else is done on the touch screen, switching between stylus and button commands isn’t advised. Moving Harry and his friends around the screen is a pain, and it’s easy to get stuck at a doorway or behind some obstruction. Making potions enters you in a mini-game where you have to shake bottled ingredients, pour them into a cauldron, and perform other actions. While these mini-games are decent at times, the annoying timer doesn’t do much to favor the controls which work sometimes and fail others.
You would think that Deathly Hallows Part 1 would at least tell the story it’s based on in a fun and creative manner, but even this aspect of the game is lazy. There are numerous cinematics based on cutscenes from the film, but they are poorly-crafted and feature no sound whatsoever. There’s no music and no voice acting; there’s really no sound at all. The only thing you get with the cutscenes are choppy animations of characters and text-based dialogue which is plagued with poor punctuation and broken grammar.
The visual and audio flaws aren’t confined solely to the game’s cutscenes, though. Levels are plain and lack any detail; characters look like a pixelated mess. And most enemies look identical to one another. None of the dark atmosphere of the film is conveyed properly here, and while the DS is not known for being a technical powerhouse, Deathly Hallows Part 1 drastically lacks in its visual presentation. Melodramatic themes are heard from time to time, but they sound incredibly cheesy. Infrequent sound effects pop up sporadically, and they don’t do anything to enhance the experience. If anything, hearing the random noises in the background in unison with the constant sound of Harry’s wand firing projectiles urges you to lower the volume on your DS.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is not a good DS game by any account. There’s no effort behind it, the storytelling is weak, and the presentation is some of the least inspired on the handheld. Even if you’re a fan of the book and the film, there is absolutely no reason for you to play this game. Avoid it all costs and read the novel all over again instead.