Many are still unsure about the tone of the game as Hogwarts Legacy approaches. The Wizarding World exists in shades of gray, with brilliant bursts of light and equally dark characters. However, in those gray areas, "good" characters may utilize the Dark Arts. Should murder be an option for players?
The Dark Arts
There isn't as much of a Dark Side or Light Side as we're used to in Star Wars. However, there is a set of spells or actions that would harm, control, or even slaughter living beings, which can include anything from brewing dark spells to breeding dark creatures to using the forbidden Unforgivable Curses.
The key to transforming Tom Riddle into Voldemort is to entrust pieces of one's soul in exchange for power. The more one participates in the Dark Arts, the more their physical appearance might be harmed, and the more their soul would be rent asunder.
The point I'm trying to make is that practicing the Dark Arts has significant consequences, and they aren't something that school-age children would be able to do. Using these spells requires serious intent to harm or kill the intended victim, which is a problem that many children are unable to achieve.
If the Dark Arts were a thing the developers wanted to include, it would not make sense to have children in middle or high school doing it with any degree of ease. Sure, Tom Riddle, but he practiced for years and mostly in secret. You can't reasonably expect to be doing Cruciatus Curse right before attending potions class.
The Paragon and the Renegade
When I think of immersive role-playing games where choice comes into play, I think of titles like Knights of the Old Republic, Fable, and Mass Effect. Each had a morality system where players could choose to be the good or the bad guy. These would affect their appearance, their actions, and how the world perceives them.
I don't think a game centered around Hogwarts is appropriate for it. If it were a story revolving around more mature wizards and witches outside the larger world, then absolutely. Let me create a character and help NPCs by using my magic.
Regardless, these are school-age children. They have little knowledge of themselves nor the ability to engage in a sport that will put their morality to the test. If anything, it might be used in a pivotal moment with serious consequences.
I'm not against a Dark Arts playthrough, but Hogwarts Legacy isn't the game for it. These are kids that their families and mentors have shaped to be the best versions of themselves. The coursework in school would involve Defense Against the Dark Arts, not practical uses of the Dark Arts. There are games where this would work, but Hogwarts Legacy isn't.
The bigger question isn't whether children wizards and witches will be using the Dark Arts, but should children players? Sure, many players will be adults, but a large number of children will also participate in the game. It's why the ESRB exists and why game ratings are important.
I don't want him to be playing games with a darker tone, extreme violence, or straight-up murder as he's a kid. The world is already a rough, dark place. There's no point in removing that innocence early.
The majority of the initial audience for Hogwarts Legacy is now in their late 20s to early 40s.
Again, Hogwarts Legacy isn't the title for darker themes and murder; it's unlikely since publishers stand to make more money if there's a wider appeal. It's the unfortunate nature of the beast.
The Batman Solution
This is where Batman steps in to save the day. It's a fine line to walk. The Wizarding World certainly has a dark side to it, and Hogwarts Legacy will incorporate some of those themes. There will be wizards and witches that our player will encounter with. It's the framing that allows the combat and on-screen violence to work.
Stormtroopers wear helmets to protect themselves from faceless enemies, because they hit different targets when strays of the same adversary are shot down with a lightsaber instead of unique individuals with human faces. With Batman, it's because both fighters register as real humans to the audience.
We can expect dark witches and wizards to be larger-than-life villains, non-humans, or mask-wearers like the Death Eaters. Regarding combat and on-screen violence, we can expect spells that disarm or incapacitate rather than those that cause serious harm or death. Batman doesn't kill humans. Neither will our character in Hogwarts Legacy.
The Wizarding World walks a fine line between being kid-friendly and delving into darker themes. It's why the Harry Potter series started relatively light-hearted but became darker as the characters got older. It's why Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them started as a fantastical story, only to be harmed by a darker story that stole the title.
I want an adult Wizarding World title. I want to see the narrative expand beyond the walls of Hogwarts. I believe there is so much untapped potential being stowed away by the greed of studios. I have no idea if Hogwarts Legacy will be good or bad. It's had a rocky start thanks to the larger world's creator and their controversial opinions.
On Pro Game Guides, check out the Hogwarts Legacy trailer that depicts the school in crisis.