Framed perspectives shape our experiences in Hogwarts Legacy a lot more than you might have noticed. I'm not saying that this bias is coming from you – like all of the best RPGs, Hogwarts Legacy allows us to fully customize our character before delving into the mysteries of a complex, winding storyline. We already know that the ending is rather disappointing if you have hopes for turning evil, so there's not much of a chance to sway the hands of fate in that respect.
However, most of what we know about Hogwarts, ancient magic, and any connections to the Goblin Rebellion is relayed to us by the Keepers. The four protectors of ancient magic are secondary characters in the game, and each of them has stored memories that you can only access in a specific order. Placed at the end of lengthy combat sequences called Trials, watching these cutscenes allows us to piece together the story underpinning Hogwarts Legacy.
There is one trial per Keeper to test your mettle as a spellcaster as well as your moral fiber, so you basically have to prove yourself worthy of their secrets. But just as how Harry views Professor Slughorn's memories only to find that they had been tampered with, the fact that we can only ratify the Keepers' words against their entirely fallible memories is suspicious to me. Can they be trusted, or are they lying to our faces to cover up a much darker truth?
You've been framed
Being the main character doesn't mean you're safe from deceptive storytelling. Enter the Keepers. These four Hogwarts staff alumni lived many centuries ago, so you'll be interacting with their portrait likenesses instead. Straight off the bat, the opportunities for unreliable narration are there: these aren't the people themselves, but their painted effigies that have been left behind for a purpose. In the wizarding world, paintings can be enchanted to talk, act, and even convey information in the manner of their living model, but they should never be mistaken for the person themselves.
This doesn't seem to be the case in Hogwarts Legacy. Our character, as well as their teacher and mentor Professor Fig, are more than happy to do precisely what these paintings ask of them without so much as an exclamation of "Merlin's beard".
As you play through the main questline, you'll uncover the Keepers' shared, solemn duty: to protect a repository filled with unstable ancient magic that has long been buried deep beneath the school, created by a fellow ancient magic-wielding professor named Isidora Morganach whose taste for power consumed her. Long story short, Isidora ended up being killed by one of the Keepers following a magical skirmish, and since then, the four Hogwarts professors have been waiting for the right person (that's you) to carry on their legacy.
According to the Keepers, Isidora went rogue. By killing her, the Keepers were only acting for the good of the wizarding world, right?
Really, they never tell us this outright. The paintings haven't been enchanted to give us any real information, only cryptic instructions and derisive glances. By withholding information from us and guiding us down a linear path of memories to experience one after another, the Keepers effectively give the player no chance to think about whether what we're seeing is the truth – or if, much like the Keepers themselves, everything has been framed up for us just so.
Knowing me, knowing you
Aside from being essentially holograms, another reason to distrust the Keepers is that they seem immediately mistrustful of you in the first place. They want you to see Isidora as a dangerous individual, but since she is presented as a reflection of your character themselves, they essentially are asking you to admit to being a danger too.
Although originally paved with good intentions, Isidora's downfall is, according to their memories, rooted in her innate thirst for power and control. She was using ancient magic to extract pain from those around her, with a focus on helping her ailing father who never emotionally recovered from the traumatic death of her own brother.
As for the similarities themselves, it almost shouldn't need mentioning. Both you and Isidora started school as fifth-year students, and both of you can see traces of ancient magic that appear as beautiful glowing strands in the world around you. Both you and Isidora must train yourselves to wield this magic carefully, and both of you also have those in your lives who you wish to heal with your magic. The game hints that just as Isidora could extract her father's pain, we might be able to do the same for classmate Sebastian's cursed sister, Anne, whom we spend many a side quest going to extreme lengths to cure. But just as Isidora was warned against using her magic to take pain that wasn't hers to take, the player is denied the chance to help Anne.
This parallel between the main character and Isidora might be the reason behind the Keepers' reluctance to be more forthcoming with the information. After all, it's a little bit risky to recruit the spiritual twin of the very person you killed simply because they got a little powerful.
Hogwarts Legacy puts you at the mercy of four painted dead people, and never once stops to ask if that makes any sense. Perhaps if they had tried to support and comfort Isidora instead of maligning her for fear of her power, they might have been able to pull her back from the brink. The only reason we think Isidora's magic is harmful is because we saw her father's vacant stare in Professor San Bakar's memories, but when we observe Isidora's, he thanks her warmly for bringing him some peace.
Maybe none of it happened the way we were told, and the Keepers are covering up Isidora's murder for far more insidious reasons? Maybe I'm desperately searching for depth when there simply isn't any more to it? Either way, I'm not convinced by the Keepers and their self-righteous posturing, and I wish we'd had a better opportunity to stick it to them and avenge Isidora.
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