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svgfahmesvgApril 30, 2023svgReviews

In the Shadow of Fear of The Dark- Hogwarts Legacy

“The dark arts seem harmless until it’s too late.”

Dark arts have always fascinated you. The unforgivable curses feel like just items begging to be used. But at the same time, you are worried that the dark path might unfold something that you would not want for yourself. 

Well, worry no more, my friend. Hogwarts Legacy lets you explore the unforgivable curses without facing almost any consequences. So yes, hop on the journey to the secret vault of Salazar Slytherin as you follow some compelling storylines of not one but multiple characters. In fact, this particular storyline has been deemed the most intriguing one. Let’s check out how dark is it and why the design and progression felt so good to experience. 

Traumatic pasts: Your Slytherin friend Ominis might be born blind but he knows and senses the cattle ground better than everyone. Moreover, he was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin himself. You get a unique impression of him from the word go. It compounds even more when you learn that he has come from a family of dark wizards who didn’t bother to torture him with the Crutiatus curse when he refused to cast it himself. You are already into his story as soon as you discover these tragic events. 

Crisis on the large: What starts as a discovery of a hidden chamber under the castle, eventually turns into the discovery of a family crisis Sebastian has. The pacing of this discovery is just brilliant. You spend time with him, break some rules (or not?), take some risks, get close, then he shares his family issues with you. With this perfect progression of the story arc, you get to learn that Sebastian’s sister was cursed probably by the Goblins and has been sick ever since. After strengthening your bond even more with Seb, you visit them in Feldcroft only to see an uneasy encounter between Ominis and his uncle, who looks after Anne, his sister since their parents are no more. Since Ominis and Anne are twins, you can imagine the immaculate bond that they share. So you can’t really blame Seb as he isn’t hesitant to use dark magic as a last resort to save his sister from this curse. All other methods of healing have failed, so the crisis on the horizon is pretty grim. The game will make you empathize with Seb and Anne, that’s for sure. Now, do you use the dark magic as a last resort, or be the good wizard and let Anne fade away in pain? 

Quality of choices dilemma (not once): That brings us to the dilemma game. This questline is full of difficult choices that you have to make in order to progress. It begins with whether to lie to Ominis to save your friend or speak the truth to gain a bit of favor from Ominis (maybe?) and ends with whether you turn your best buddy in Azkaban or not. In between, the world changes according to so many choices you have to make. The irony is, these choices are not black and white. None of these are 100% desirable compared to the other one. Taking the side of Ominis will upset Seb and vice versa. If you are playing a double agent like me, then watch out for the dangers associated with it. I think I got away just fine. Still, it was super hard to encourage someone to learn the killing curse just because if you choose otherwise, you wouldn’t get to learn and use it in the game (It is super OP of course!). The choices you make imply massive changes in the narrative. It can dictate which spells you learn, even which friend you meet in the end as well. 

Crossroads of friendship: Speaking of playing double agent, you really need to make up your mind about whose friendship you value more. As the questline progresses, it gets increasingly difficult to keep your relationship intact with both of your friends. Also, you have to choose whether you want to keep their friendship alright or not. So it is a complex paradigm of cross-functional relationship that you have to navigate your way through. It will keep you pondering all the way through till the end. 

Foreshadowing: “Children should be seen not heard”… this is what Victor Rookwood says to you while you fight him in an epic encounter. Personally, this is my favorite battle in the entire game (NEVER THE RAGNOK DRAGON ONE!), but when I heard it in the penultimate mission of the main story, it got me thinking – “I’ve heard it somewhere…”

After a sweaty battle with him and his minions, I remember that this is the sentence Anne heard while she was cursed. All this time, Seb thought that goblins have cursed her and despised Goblinkind. But he was wrong. This foreshadowing is a masterclass of storytelling and it gets confirmed in the last mission of Sebastian’s storyline. Also, the classic foreshadowing regarding the dark arts feeling harmless until it is too late comes true when Sebastian finally agrees that he did stray too far and feels bad about Uncle Solomon.   

Dark Destiny- Crucio story: 

This is an epic example of the power of good storytelling and level design combined. Ominis’ only understanding kin, his aunt Noctua did go missing years ago. She always wished to change the family’s traditions of pursuing Dark Arts and uncover more about Salazar Slytherin’s legacy. The mission where you discover Salazar’s Scriptorium while exploring the unknown depth of the castle, you find out an instruction to cast the Crutiatus Curse to open a particular door. If you don’t, then you will remain trapped here forever, because the exit was shut. You also find a very old corpse there. Apparently, in her search for the Scriptorium, Noctua also reached this door. But since she came alone, she couldn’t cast it on anyone and eventually died a horribly tragic death trapped here. Thinking about this whole thing deeply can be pretty unnerving. You do get away by casting Crucio on one another, and that is also a great example of unlocking a new item without giving the obvious feeling that the game is giving you a handout. All in all, this has gotta be one of the best examples of how to combine a compelling narrative, good game design and significant level design in the entire history of video games.  

Dark Sacrifice: 

The relic that Sebastian hoped to use to cure Anne was part of dark magic. The previous users did warn via letters that it could require a dark sacrifice. Sebastian of course, ignores it. Probably you do too (if you make that choice). Though the relic didn’t cause much harm other than raising an annoying horde of inferi, it does initiate a fight that eventually makes Sebastian kill his own uncle. It destroys whatever family he had. In the end, the dark sacrifice did happen, just not in the way anybody thought about it.  

Unforgivables 

At the end of the day, pursuing the dark arts strongly indicates that you are going to stumble upon the unforgivable curses. These curses make the game super easy, to be honest. If you start by using Imperio on an enemy, then cast Crucio on another, and use Avada Kedavra on a separate one, and you have a particular talent unlocked in the talent tree, you can kill 3 or 4 enemies in a row. But to learn these, you have to entertain Seb into an ominous path (Not the path of Ominis, interesting choice of name here from the devs haha). So, what do you do? Do you be a righty Griffindor and discourage your fellow Slytherin friend from using dark arts, even when all other hope seems lost, and lose the option of learning these spells? Maybe you do the opposite and be a morally flexible Slytherin with the ambition to be a legendary wizard of doom. 

Don’t worry, you can be both or more. You just have to do multiple playthroughs. The titles of this questline are also super cohesive. Every single one begins with “In the shadow of…”. This is a crafty work of foreshadowing along with careful planning of the missions as no name felt forced here. It is not a wonder that the community loved Seb’s questline in general. A popular argument is that it is the best questline in the entire game. Well, I think they did get so many things right in here. So it was almost everything you could possibly ask for in a secret peekaboo into dark magic in the magical world revolving around Harry Potter, Hogwarts and its legacy. 

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