I always adored the Harry Potter series growing up — they were a stable of my childhood. Even now, I enjoy rereading a book or two of the series every so often. When Pottermore came out, I was excited to take the quizzes detailing my Hogwarts house and wand, as well as my patronus and Ilvermorny House when they became a thing as well. With the app game Hogwarts Mystery finally released a couple of days ago, I got the chance to start it up and try it out.
I don’t play too many app games. I’m one of those few people who don’t have a tablet so, if I wanted to play app or mobile games, I’m stuck using my phone. Don’t get me wrong, my phone is nice and I don’t have too many mobile games that I’m interested in playing, but it can still be a little annoying on the smaller screen. I have Fire Emblem Heroes and, now, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery on my device.
The idea of becoming a Hogwarts student was always a fun fantasy for me as a lover of the books and the world that J.K. Rowling had cooked up. I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about how Hogwarts Mystery would be able to pull it off, but I’m enjoying it so far.
You start the game with a little introduction that is narrated by the great Maggie Smith herself, reprising the role of Professor McGonagall. After a brief moment of customizing your character (seriously, there’s not much customization unlocked) your character is meeting a new friend in Diagon Alley, where you obtain your books and wand in a tutorial of the few controls before heading to Hogwarts and choosing your house.
The simple controls include tapping and swiping a finger across the screen. That’s really it. The tasks are generally using energy by tapping on objects, such as books to “read through” or your broom to “summon.” When learning spells or brewing potions, you may have to swipe your finger in a small shape, usually a spiral or arch of some sort, in order to perfect the spell or potion.
The story itself is okay so far. I’m not too deep into it, but apparently your character’s brother had gotten expelled and disappeared at some point before you were accepted into Hogwarts. Therefore, you already have a besmirched reputation, thanks to whatever your brother had done. Your personality is based on three attributes — courage, empathy, and knowledge — that will supposedly affect your relationships with other characters in the game. These attributes may give you different response choices with speaking with characters and, depending on which choices you choose, may or may not help better your family name in the school.
I presume, going deeper into the game, that the Hogwarts Mystery is all about what happened with your brother. I’m already interested in the writing, and I’m impressed with the graphics of the game even on my phone screen, so we shall see how everything works out.
Being a mobile game, it’s “free to play,” but there are of course in-app purchases, where you can use real money to buy game currency, gems for longer story missions, and pieces of energy to keep the game moving. The currency and gems also unlock more clothing items to customize your characters. The customization is something I’m disappointed in — you gain levels as you go about the story, and certain clothing options are “unlocked” at certain levels, but many you still need to spend currency or gems on to actually wear them.
Other than that, I’m amused at the game so far, able to play it in a few minute intervals before losing all my energy and needing to wait for that to replenish. As long as the story is intriguing, I’ll probably keep the game around for a while.