I consider myself a massive Potterhead, so when I got wind that they were releasing a new mobile game called Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Mystery I was super psyched. The trailer looked pretty awesome as well:
…. they made it look more interesting than it actually is.
Gameplay-wise, at least.
You play a 1st year starting out at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The events unfold somewhere between the fall of Voldemort and Harry Potter attending school (yeah, you don’t actually meet Harry and his friends – but the school teachers are all there, as are a few main characters in the books like Nymphadora Tonks and Bill Weasley).
Your character carries baggage upon arriving, as the story goes that you are searching for your missing brother, whom everyone says went mad looking for the Cursed Vaults. Determined to find out the truth whilst proving your worth, you set out on your very own Hogwarts adventure…
So this is me.. or my alter ego, ‘Lynx Athena’. Yeahhhhh I would have named myself that irl if I could lol judge me all you want. 😀
I’ve always felt that if I were to go to Hogwarts for real, I’d be a Ravenclaw, but for some reason the Sorting Hat on Pottermore put me into Gryffindor (twice, on two accounts) so I wanted to stay true to that.
The game allows you to choose your own house… which took away the whole sorting hat ‘suspense’. Character appearance customisations are limited until later in the game.
Now here comes the disappointing part: gameplay.
I was expecting a more open, MMORPG experience where you can walk around and explore Hogwarts. Instead, we get a very linear gameplay, where you basically complete a ‘story’ by … wait for it…. tapping. Like one of those Kim K games. And waiting for energy to fill. Which requires no skill whatsoever.
Granted, some of the stories and events do give you choices to pick from which will grant you attributes (Courage, Empathy, Knowledge) which will further give you better choices in future events, but then comes the next infuriating part – the wait itself.
Unlike games where you can watch ads to refill your energy, HP: AHM has NONE. You’re basically forced to buy gems, or wait a really, really, really long time. The gems are not in small amounts either eg 55 gems for 10 energy wtf.
Also, when you’re doing a major story, you’re not allowed to ‘leave’ the event to go explore or do other stuff – you’re basically FORCED to wait it out. WHAT?
The story itself is pretty interesting, but having to wait for so long takes away from the immersion. Its obvious the developers are forcing players to buy energy – it’s either that or progress the story by playing for 10 minutes and waiting 8 hours to complete an entire event. I also really hated the fact that after waiting for the energy to fill, you also have to WAIT BETWEEN EVENTS WTF. As I’m writing this, I have to wait three hours in order for the next event to be available. So a full energy bar is wasted, coz I don’t have anything else that I can do during this waiting time. They should call it Harry Potter: A Waiting Game.
That being said, the game’s few redeeming qualities, including a beautiful design that remains true to the movies. I feel like players will get bored of this quickly though. There is only so much detail you can look at before you get bored and uninstall this forever.
As of now, I’m keeping the game because I’m curious to know the story, but with it panning out at a snail’s pace, I doubt I’ll have it around for long. Which is really disappointing, seeing that I was so excited as to how they finally have some new Hogwarts material after so many years. I understand it’s free, but it would have been nice if the app wasn’t such a blatant money grubbing attempt on Harry Potter fans.
Overall: 2/5 – purely from the story and graphics. I have no nice things to say about the gameplay, other than the ‘story’ part where they give you choices to pick.