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News Opinions 14 February 2023, 15:33

author: Julia Dragovic

There's No Patching It. Hogwart's Legacy Dialog is Dullness and Cringe

The conversations between the dead-inside characters in Hogwarts Legacy are a festival of boredom and banality. I get the sense AI would do a better job. Reparo!

Source: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

I've played Hogwarts Legacy for a few hours and I can't stand listening to the dialogues anymore. Getting through them is like reading an e-mail exchange of two corpos, bored to death with their work, defeated by apathy of such magnitude that even a troll attack (surprisingly, this analogy works here) would hardly make any impression on them. There's no complexity, no trauma, no venting off, not even a stomach ache afterwards.

At some point, our character (if they belong to Hufflepuff) is informed that they may feel despair soon, but it would pass. The reaction? With one hand covering the other, like the British queen, the character thanks for the information. Do they feel fear? But that's not entirely true, either. Is the heralded despair coming? Of course not.

So yeah, if folks wanna do some romancing in this emotional wasteland then I think I'm leaving on the next station, thanks very much.

Wizards on Xanax

Characters in Hogwarts Legacy stand do not movie when talking. There are no gestures, no facial expressions. It's a soft-core petrificus totalus. After a dozen hours in the game or so, I literally saw my character laugh no more than twice. Remember, we're talking about fifteen or sixteen-year-olds, living without parents in a castle full of secrets, and having magical abilities. It begs for constant turmoil, trouble, parties and breaking of rules; think social class divisions conflicts, addictions, behavior disorders. But their inner experience of these character must be more like the one portrayed in Queen's Gambit – terribly limited with a huge amount of tranquilizers.

As a result, my bond with the main character is nil and void. I have no way of identifying with her or liking her because she has no personality. She's the epitome of the role-model neighbor's daughter; just a figure, part of the Sunday dinner reprimand, when my mother again points out that I haven't achieved anything. The daughter that's successful with anything she does, everything she studies – unlike us, lazy ones! Teachers love her, and peers do not envy, but admire. She has the impeccable manners of a forty-year-old British aristocrat sitting in a quirky hat in the stands at Royal Ascot.

You will not convince me that it can be justified by the time of action (19th century). I guess that's just the risk of trying to cook up something that everyone will like, no matter what allergies they could have. It's just utterly bland and void of any finesse. All in all, the conversations and character relations in Hogwart's Legacy are reminiscent of overcooked noodles.

Theres No Patching It. Hogwarts Legacy Dialog is Dullness and Cringe - picture #1

Hogwarts Legacy, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, 2023

The worst scientist in the world

Our favorite example of a completely ill-conceived line of dialogue is the interaction with Nora Treadwell. The elderly archaeologist became fascinated by Merlin while studying at Hogwarts. She became his researcher and discovered the puzzles he probably created for his fellow Slytherins. She has been traveling for years, trying to understand how these puzzles work; something no one has done in hundreds of years. She already has a hypothesis on how to activate these mechanisms; decades of research may finally pay off! She has just arrived at the site of one of these puzzles and has set up research camp to perhaps make a groundbreaking discovery and study it thoroughly. And then she meets our character.

Circumstances are a bit extreme, as some villains attack the camp and you have to chase them away. We have only just started school, but we manage it without any problems. When Nora talks about her research, we immediately guess how the magic mechanism works – but it must have taken her several decades. That's enough to entrust a foreign teenager (i.e. us) with the achievements of her whole life. And so we, rather than the scholar, activate the first puzzle ever. When we solve it, we learn that each of them is probably different ("this is uncharted territory"), but they are probably all used the same way. The task is done, but as it usually happens in these situations, we end up with just more unanswered questions, like: How does it work? I need to go through my notes, maybe I missed something. So, we ought to continue studying these objects, right?

Well, not really. The archaeologist states that she has seen enough – even encourages us to unravel them all ourselves (and you must know that this is a task that cannot be repeated). “Go ahead, you can solve them as you go. I think I have enough information to continue my research." Then she packs up and leaves. If all archaeologists worked like Nora Treadwell, we probably still wouldn't know about the Pompeii or the Terracotta Army.

NPCs that can't even be interacted with also have bland and artificial dialogues like they came from a primitive generator, but there are also some real gems, so I still recommend eavesdropping. My favorite remains the dialogue in which one of the students tells the other about his family. It turns out that each of his siblings has been sorted into a different house, that's how different they are from each other – apparently the only person who was not surprised by this "coincidence" was his father. Ba-dum-tss.

Theres No Patching It. Hogwarts Legacy Dialog is Dullness and Cringe - picture #2

Hogwarts Legacy, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, 2023

A powerful elixir

After playing Stray, I wrote a piece about how the game used an emotional component – in that case, a cat – and how that alone was enough to sell a pretty, albeit otherwise very average and short video game that was also a social-media phenomenon surrounded with cat-lovers' oohs and aahs, with some people even reportedly buying consoles just to play it. Why am I talking about this?

Because although the characters themselves lack emotions, the game itself carries a huge emotional charge in the form of childhood memories of millions of millennials and Zees. Portkey Games, owned by Warner Bros., the publisher of Hogwarts Legacy, casts us into a cauldron and brews the elixir of success and sales. It also adds a second powerful ingredient – the nostalgia, currently selling like hot cakes in all sorts of remakes, remasters, and extended game series. That would be enough, but it also adds decent graphics into the mix (for the first time in the history of games from this universe), along with the ability to personalize your own quarters and with an open world with hundreds of collectibles and activities. All this is sprinkled with paid access to the deluxe version, the bitter price of which was broken with the sweet scent of early access (since February 7). A perfectly brewed potion will silence even the controversies concerning the author of the Harry Potter world.

An owl brought My dose of the potion on Tuesday. I drank it with relish.

Julia Dragovic

Julia Dragovic

She studied philosophy and philology and honed her writing skills by producing hundreds of assignments. She has been a journalist at Gamepressure since 2019, first writing in the newsroom, then becoming a columnist and reviewer, and eventually, a full-time editor of our game guides. She has been playing games for as long as she can remember – everything except shooters and RTSs. An ailurophile, fan of The Sims and concrete. When she's not clearing maps of collectibles or playing simulators of everything, economic strategies, RPGs (including table-top) or romantic indie games, Julia explores cities in different countries with her camera, searching for brutalist architecture and post-communist relics.