‘Harry Potter: A Hogwarts Mystery’ Review
I have loved the Wizarding World from J.K Rowling’s best-selling series for years. I have reread the Harry Potter books more times than I can count. So, I’m sure that you can imagine how excited I was to hear about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery when they first announced it.
I downloaded the game the same morning it was released to the App Store and finished playing through the available content on Saturday of last week. If you’ve been wondering whether it is worth the time, here is a review from a die-hard Potter fan.
The Story in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
Hogwarts Mystery takes place during the years between Harry Potter’s birth and when he enters Hogwarts himself. While it is disappointing that you won’t interact with the main trio of the book series, it is cool that the series won’t overlap too much with the book series and overwrite canon. The game starts in a simple place, with your character entering the first year of Hogwarts and needing to get their school supplies in Diagon Alley. You meet your first friend there and learn the basics of gameplay. After that is completed, you move to the Sorting Ceremony and choose your house to belong to. Then, the real game begins and you start attending classes. You also learn about the mystery surrounding your character’s older brother and how he was expelled under odd circumstances. I won’t say more than that so you have a chance to play it yourself.
Compared to how complicated the game could be, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery plays like a choose-your-own-adventure. Most of the game is spent in different classes, gaining stars to unlock lessons and spells that we’re all very familiar with from the stories. As you progress through the years, you’ll learn new recipes and spells that can be used in dueling and completing other tasks. Another important part of the game are the attributes that dictate what choices you can make in the game: Courage, Empathy, and Knowledge. You earn points that help gain levels for these attributes as rewards in quests or social encounters, as well as completing classes. It is in your best interest to gain as many of these points as you can so that you can make all of the decisions and have an easier time dueling against certain enemies.
There are actually a lot of things that I would consider ‘good’ about the game. One of the key factors for me, at the start of the game, was the character appearances. You didn’t create a character that looked like an adult who was actually 11. Your character looks the part of a blobby 11-12-year-old, and it’s amazing to see that in a game.
There is plenty of story content to work through because the game is intended to stretch out for 7 years, like a typical Hogwarts education. The underlying mystery and motivations for your character’s actions are also unique. It doesn’t adjust or negate the original canon of the Harry Potter universe and acknowledges Harry’s existence, without making you a side-note in his story.
Another great part of Hogwarts Mystery is that you get to interact with characters from the canon universe – all of your favorite professors are there, teaching your favorite classes, and you have the chance to befriend some of your favorite characters when they’re younger – Bill Weasley and Nymphadora Tonks to be exact.
I don’t have a lot of bad things to say about Hogwarts Mystery, and what I do have to say isn’t all that bad. My biggest complaint about the game so far is that some of the choices lead to the same outcome. It doesn’t matter if you pick the special choices either. It really ruins the whole ‘choose your path’ aspect when you realize that some choices don’t change the outcome.
Another thing that I have issues with is that you can only do one quest at a time. When you have three quests waiting to be done and enough energy to complete all three with one star, it is really frustrating to be stopped. I know that, realistically, you can’t be in Potions and Transfiguration at the same time, but it is still a pain.
I also didn’t like that you could pick which House you wanted to be in. I picked Hufflepuff, the Hogwarts House that I’ve gotten almost everytime I’ve done Sorting Quizzes, but I feel like we missed out on the opportunity to be sorted for the Hogwarts experience.
If you’ve played the game, I’m sure that you’ve noticed a lack of in-game advertisements that flood every other free-to-play game in the App Store. Part of why Hogwarts Mystery can avoid this is by making money through microtransactions in the game, which allow you to recoup energy quicker and play through the game faster. I must be in the minority here because I don’t mind that system. Mobile games are not cheap to develop, design, and write. Besides, if they don’t limit your energy in one way or another, you would sit on the game for hours to see how quickly you could finish it.
A major downfall that the game has is that the current playable content ends after Year 3, Chapter 10. However, you’re still free to explore the castle and go to classes to raise your attribute levels while you wait for new content to be released. I don’t think that they expected people to work through the game this quickly, but the initial release covered 3 full years at Hogwarts. As long as the next few years are similar in quality, I don’t mind the wait now that I’ve finished.
What’s Up Next
In the next four years of Hogwarts Mystery, there will be plenty of new content to unlock. These include new classes, like Care of Magical Creatures and Defense Against the Dark Arts, and new adventures. Other locations inside and outside of the castle will also be unlocked in years to come, as will new friends.
Other new features that the game developers have teased is the ability to adopt pets, which might come following lessons in the Care of Magical Creatures class. This feature will probably be a good thing to save gems and coins for when you get them. It also seems like romance options will be available in the coming years with both your friends and enemies in the game.
Should You Play It?
If you enjoyed the Harry Potter series and always wondered what it would be like to have your own Hogwarts adventure, I think you should. It is free to download in most countries in your App Store and worth the hour or so that you can spend playing it a day.