This sandbox-style gameplay is, for the most part, an improvement. Loads of side missions and bonus objectives will keep you busy once the extremely short main story is completed - something that couldn't be said of Order of the Phoenix's totally linear predecessors. You can compete in chess matches (or Exploding Snaps) against each house's champion; engage in wand duels with passing Slytherins; discover portrait passwords to open shortcuts through Hogwarts; search for hidden creatures; and attempt to get top marks in all your classes.
Crucially, most of the challenges outside the story are triggered by the player themselves, just by being nosy and trying out various spells on objects. We discovered the entrance to the Prefects' Bathroom purely by accident, and solving the puzzle inside was purely optional. The reward for doing so, however, would be worth any Potterphile's time and effort.
Unfortunately, the majority of extra missions involve activities so dull you wouldn't even want to tackle them in real life - repairing broken statues, hanging wall paintings, sweeping leaves, mopping puddles and lighting torches. We never quite envisioned the "Chosen One" as a school janitor. The main story occasionally falls prey to this drudgery as well. Recruiting Harry's army is really just tracking down students and then completing fetch quests on their behalf, as the video below will attest.
Above: Why fly a broom or fight monsters when you can do other people's homework for them?
Other problems linger over from previous games in the series. Camera control is still out of your hands, and you’ll frequently find it chooses the most awkward position; the voice acting is variable with many of the kids sounding asleep; and the map of Hogwarts is useless, though magical footprints do help by guiding you to your selected task.