Let’s rewind back to a time before Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery came out – the franchise began with a book. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was published more than 20 years ago. Since then, the Boy-Who-Lived has made a place for himself in the hearts of children and adults, the world over. Potterheads (die-hard Harry Potter fans) have worshiped the story of a regular boy who learns he is a wizard and how his life changes after that.
Studios were quick to capitalize on the literary success. Even when all of the books were not out, the first movie was made and released. The seventh book in the series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – came out in 2007. The 8th book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, followed it almost a decade later. Even after a gap of 9 years, the enthusiasm of the Potterheads hadn’t lessened. In fact, it had only grown with time.
Then came the 20th anniversary edition of the first book in the series. Illustrated editions were released too, of the first, second and the third books. Not to forget the movie ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, which is also based in Potter’s universe. Though the movie followed a different set of characters, it still caused a sensation. The buzz it created proved that the Potterverse could be home to several fascinating storylines.
As such, the world of Harry Potter is back in Muggle news, this time, with the release of a mobile game called “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery”.
About Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
Every Harry Potter fan has wanted to receive their very own Letter of Acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry on their 11th birthday. (Editor’s Note: I’m 19 now and would still happily pack my bags and study in the first year with 11 year-olds at Hogwarts). Now, we have a way to fulfill this dream, with the Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery mobile app.
In this game, you’ll receive your letter and begin your adventure into the wizarding world. The game is set after the birth of Harry Potter but before he attended Hogwarts himself. Younger versions of many of the teachers and characters we know from the books populate this game.
Just like Harry Potter, you’ll first be taken to Diagon Alley. This is the biggest marketplace in Magical Britain. Here, you will buy all the wizarding implements needed to attend the ‘Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’ including school robes, a wand, cauldron and books. Just like Harry Potter, you’ll also have to make important choices throughout the story while adjusting to your new school – like making friends, attending lectures (not all of them are pleasant), making potions and much more.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery Gameplay
Now, this isn’t just about going through Hogwarts how Harry Potter did, like in Pottermore. There is an interesting backstory and objective for this Magical RPG. As the main character, you are the second in your family to attend the magical school. Earlier, your older brother attended the school, where he apparently went mad and left. Supposedly, he was in league with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. It is your goal, while adjusting to a new and exciting world, to also solve the mystery behind your brother’s disappearance.
You can interact with characters and glean insights from them. Also, you take classes and learn spells or potions. And you can have duels to establish yourself as the superior wizard. It truly is exciting and packed with features to make the game as magical as possible. You even make friends, in-game, who you can get closer to through your choices and how you react to them. That’s right, this game is also a valuable lesson in empathizing and dealing with others socially!
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is Not Quite “There” Yet
Despite all its strong points, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery has not been able to please fans the way the movies and books did. Many attribute this to the infuriating, debilitating gameplay, which requires either a ton of in-game purchases or a ludicrous amount of waiting.
Your character has an energy bar that drains quickly during most activities. You start first year with a bar that holds 25 energy points, and each task – a class lesson, for example – requires you to tap various objects to complete a number of mini objectives that make up the whole exercise. Two taps to turn the pages of a book, three taps to listen to Professor Flitwick, five taps to ask your brainy friend a question. That energy bar is empty by the time you’re only halfway done. You then have to wait four minutes for each energy point to recover, or spend real-world money to buy in-game gems, which will buy you energy, among other things.
Tasks get scheduled for later but after a certain point, due to high waiting times, these tasks add up. You’re soon left with an impossible backlog that can only be cleared with Buddha-like amounts of patience, or Tony Stark-like amounts of money.
Jam City, Inc., have packed the mobile game with amazing graphics, sounds, features and a brilliant storyline. But clearly, they have some work to do as far as gameplay is concerned. The perfect games operate in the small, sweet-spot between ‘too difficult’ and ‘too easy’. A good game needs to be easy enough for the players to complete goals and feel a sense of achievement. But simultaneously, it should be difficult enough so each round challenges players and they don’t just breeze through – lest they get bored.