Hogwarts Legacy is good, is bad, is a 10/10, is a 1/10, you are not allowed to play Hogwarts Legacy, no, you are supposed to play it, and it doesn’t really matter what JK Rowling does on the side, like transphobic spreading statements and inciting hatred against people. Oh, Hogwarts Legacy. The child in me is crying. Is the escape to Hogwarts a lie?
Platforms:Windows PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
For two weeks I thought about writing this article. My problem was this: I despise JK Rowling for what she does and for the intolerant and hateful beliefs she promotes. At the same time, the Harry Potter books were the first books I ever read – I’m not a Potterhead, not for a long time, but Harry Potter still always held a magical, homely and friendly place in my heart.
I’m not going to talk about JK Rowling here today, but if you want to learn more about her I recommend the game tips article 3 reasons why you shouldn’t buy Hogwarts Legacy. Instead, I want to talk about Hogwarts Legacy itself and the magical optimism in the game.
Hogwarts Legacy: We need to stop thinking in black and white
The first hours in Hogwarts Legacy enchanted me. Hogwarts itself is designed so lovingly that I only explored the castle a few hours before the first quests. The developers at Avalanche Software have put a lot of love into this labyrinth of mysteries, in fact they have put a lot of love into the various aspects of Hogwarts Legacy in general. You can tame animals and customize the Room of Requirement as if you were playing The Sims. You can learn a number of spells, fly through the world on broomsticks and hippogriffs, and if you choose to walk instead, you’ll see the overwhelming level of detail in the game world up close.
There are many good gameplay mechanics in Hogwarts Legacy. But the main quest and many of the side stories aren’t just flat – they’re also painfully naive. Here are a few examples (in which I will hardly spoil).
The optimistic goblin
I remember one side quest in particular: I’m supposed to help a goblin to bring back his stolen things. When I made it the goblin is moved to tears and then explains to me that he now realizes how great the wizards are – despite all the wrongs that have happened to him and his people. Um, yeah, well I wouldn’t exaggerate, I mean…
Of course, wizards have forbidden all goblins to use wands for centuries, because they consider them inferior and dangerous. But hey, I suppose one good deed is enough to make this wrong go away. That was the first moment I wanted to smack Hogwarts Legacy.
I kill poachers so I can poach the wolves myself
There are plenty of people to kill in Hogwarts Legacy. And I’ll be honest: the fights are just fun because the combat system is cool. Anyway, I only kill bad people. So evil wizards, goblins (just the evil goblins) and evil poachers in the forest. Poachers are particularly bad because they torture and kill animals.
Well, not that I don’t kill animals. I have to kill animals so I can skin them and use them to brew potions. Like spiders and wolves, the stereotypically evil animals. Also, I can save animals myself (that is, the ones that are cute and I like), but when I save too many, it’s best to sell them. I’m pretty sure they’ll be a lot better off that way than in the woods. I mean, animals don’t really want to be free, do they? (Yes, that’s meant sarcastically.)
How Hogwarts Legacy doesn’t talk about the goblin rebellion
It’s strange how little talk there is on the subject of the main quest. As is known from the trailers and the first hours of the game, you fight against Ranrok and Rookwood: an angry, extremist goblin and a dark wizard. Ranrok wants to become more powerful and kill wizards; in fact, he is so confident in his position that he kills other goblins who oppose him.
Ranrok is evil. Hogwarts Legacy does a good job of drumming that into you over and over again. Well, the official Harry Potter wiki summarizes what the goblin rebellions are actually about: Leprechauns are discriminated against by wizards and treated as if they are inferior (Source: Harry Potter Wiki). They’re even banned from using wands (but they’re not the only ones – which doesn’t make it any better).
Ranrok may be evil, but the Goblin Rebellion is not. Because the goblins have a right to be treated equally. Ranrok as part of this rebellion makes him a complex character that would have to be spoken about in a complex way – but Hogwarts Legacy only mentions the rebellion in passing. Why?
In fact, Hogwarts Legacy generally evades all of the more complex issues, stays on the safe side of black and white and gives you cats to pet if you ever get suspicious. Only the storyline of Sebastian and Ominis touches on darker themes – and that makes it the best story in the game for me.
Not that it’s all entirely the fault of Hogwarts Legacy. Because the Harry Potter universe is (unfortunately) full of Black and white logic and a naive approach to complex issues.
Naive black and white thinking is part of the world of Harry Potter
Evil characters in Harry Potter are ugly, fat, or both. Bad women tend to look like men – Rita Skeeter, for example, has very large, manly hands and a large, hard jaw. Dudley’s aunt, Marjorie Dursley, is not only extremely fat, but has such a manly face that she even grew a beard once. Dudley is fat and JK Rowling doesn’t hold back in the books to emphasize his overweight with negative adjectives. Why? Is it evil not to conform to the ideal of beauty?
YouTuber shaun covers many issues of the Harry Potter universe in this fantastic video:
The goblin rebellions are of course also mentioned in the books, but they are not really discussed. Also modern slavery is touched upon in the books – with the house elves – but apart from individual fates, slave ownership is not dealt with as a major topic. House elves still work at Hogwarts and that is accepted.
None of this caught my eye when I read the books when I was 13. Of course not, because I was a child. And yes, the Harry Potter books are also full of great magic, great worlds, adventurous stories and quite “good” themes like: it’s evil to kill people with Avada Kedavra. But is that enough?
The Harry Potter universe is flat. It’s a black and white world where bad people are mostly just bad, with no nuances, no arguments, no big thoughts about consequences. Hogwarts Legacy inherits this flat world and responds with unworldly optimism: You’re the hero of the story, you’re awesome, you’re super powerful, you save the animals from the bad people (but only the cute animals), you kill with Avada Kedavra, but hey, you’re actually still good. Let’s just not talk about it.
Especially stories for children should not be so flat. Because the real world is not flat – it is complex and does not fit into any pigeonhole thinking that divides the world into good and bad. It’s sad that one of the most well-known fantasy worlds is so immature. And I haven’t even started talking about the fact that goblins are very unpleasant reminders of prejudice against Jews. Fantasy doesn’t have to be like this.
Perhaps it would be possible to approach the world of Harry Potter differently. In which more serious issues addressed and evil characters not with dangerous stereotypes be equipped. That would at least be a first step, which Hogwarts Legacy unfortunately didn’t take.