Winter Break at Hogwarts

Ah, Hogwarts. Who wouldn't want to spend some time exploring one of literature's favourite settings? We're a first-year student, and we're stuck here while all our peers have gone home for the Christmas break, so we're free to go wherever we please. We seem to have misplaced our wand, so we'll have to retrieve it somehow. Once that's done, we can get into the main story, concerning the disappearance of a fellow classmate and the current Defence teacher.

So far, so good. The plot described seems compelling enough, and the puzzles aren't too bad. What seriously curbs my enthusiasm, however, is the map. It's huge. I think at least 70% of it is made up of corridor space, most of which is probably unnecessary. Look, I understand. You're a Harry Potter fan, and building Hogwarts in an IF medium is a labour of love. But I doubt if anyone is playing this to read a hundred different descriptions of unimportant hallways. Remember: the best map is one where every room has something happening in it.

We also have a hunger daemon and an inventory limit. The sensibilities here really are old-school. We're doing the thing where there's a clock that advances at a minute per move, too, which I'll admit I've also done; only the overwhelming size of the map here makes it a little bit more stressful.

On the whole, I think this is the sort of game best played the way we used to play IF: as a bunch of friends playing and exploring on our own time and sharing breakthroughs when we meet. Taking away the nostalgia factor, I would say that the game has some good bits and the puzzles aren't bad; only the overall design spreads them rather thinly, like a breakfast of Cocoa Puffs -- oh, the fond memories of sitting down to this chocolatey goodness on a lazy Saturday morning! -- drowned in way too much milk.