It has been a long time since the world of Harry Potter has had a video game adaptation. We haven’t had a new game since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. There are many possibilities you could explore: a third person wand shooter as an Auror, remakes of the video games we got on PS1, PS2, and PS3, or a new Quidditch game. One of the ideas I came up with was to become your own student at Hogwarts with a story you can help create. However, I didn’t imagine it to be on mobile platforms, and that has been the source of this game’s issues.
I love the idea of this game. You visit Diagon Alley to get your supplies and then go to classes while being guided on a story as you try to settle with the curse of your family name. Your brother was expelled before you came. There are many rumors about you from students and even professors. The game will also let you talk to Bill Weasley as this takes place years before the events of the Philosopher’s Stone. It’s actually interesting to know what has been happening at Hogwarts before Harry arrived. Unfortunately, what ruins the game’s flow is this darn mobile game symptom that plagues the video game industry in more ways than one: god damn microtransactions.
To progress, you have to use energy for your characters to do actions and interact with the class. You are given such a small amount and you have to wait a long time to play again. Every four minutes equals one energy in the game. That amounts to about an hour and a half for a few minutes of classes.
It’s a real shame because the story’s quite interesting and really elicits that upbeat sense of wonder that the first few films had. 1500 gems were provided by Jam City for this review to progress at a quicker pace. I’ve used half of that already and I’m still only in the first year. I tried to get through the game as if the microtransactions didn’t exist without time limitations. To put that into context, 55 gems are used to give you 30 energy. 130 gems cost $6.99 Canadian. 1500 gems cost $69.99.
There is a good game in here though. I like how you can interact with the characters and get a stronger relationship with them. It’s kind of like a mini-Persona social link system. Also like Persona, you have stats (courage, intelligence, and empathy) that can give you new choices in conversations. Your choices determine the story, as well. You gain your stats by doing classes. Non-Harry Potter fans shouldn’t bother. The pricing model is stupefying.
The majority of the game has been pretty simple so far. Spells, which pop up from time to time, are created through a gestured swipe. During events in the story and classes, you click on the area to progress; lines of dialogue after these clicks give you a bit of context, though some are repeated. It’s pretty much a visual novel with slightly more interaction.
Dueling, teased at the end of the first year, works like a rock, paper, scissors game. You have various abilities to influence the battle when you have picked the right maneuver to counter the opposing wizard. You can throw potions at the opponent or heal yourself, for example. This can be an interesting part of the game, but so far, it is mostly the monotonous classes that have you clicking around. There is a part of the game in which you have to distract your friend’s focus with conversation during a game of Gobstones. There is the occasional trivia question that fans would understand, but other than that, there isn’t much there so far.
I’m currently using an iPhone 5, which is behind the current mobile systems, but the game had very slow loading times at points. It’s definitely playable, but not ideal. It skips parts of a cutscene and slows down while you’re in the Great Hall, but it doesn’t slow down during key parts of the game. With a newer iOS or Android device, it should look and play better. However, when you head back into the game to continue your progress (and finally have enough energy to keep going), I had trouble finding a way to continue the class and had to restart it all over again. And that means, you guessed it. A lack of energy doesn’t let you progress very far.
The visuals of the game are pleasant. They have the major locales of the movies, and the characters have great facial animations that emote effectively. I like how bright the game is too, and it reminds you of the first two movies of the Harry Potter series you watched the first time all those years ago. It feels almost nostalgic. The music tinges of the movies too, but they are played often and get repetitive. The lack of voice acting is disappointing. The marketing campaign said that they got Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, and Warwick Davis to voice their characters in the game, but they say just one word or make several grunts to interpret the emotion behind the text. It feels like a cheap move as expected from a mobile game.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery has promise with the concept of creating your own character and finding out what mysteries are in store with your brother’s backstory. However, the mobile game framework ruins it with a horrible energy system that will drain your wallet quickly. You might as well use the Reducto spell. The game itself isn’t all that engaging, to begin with.
Due to the currency system in place, it might be difficult to write a comprehensive review soon, but if I do get the chance to progress further, I will write a full review. Thanks for reading.
Disclaimer: We were provided 1500 gems from Jam City to help with our review