Played on an iPhone 8.
Upon finishing the original seven-book Harry Potter series as a child, a fully-fledged Harry Potter, triple-A, RPG experience was my ultimate dream game. Then seemingly in 2017, the dream of mine and so many others became true with the announcement of Portkey Games, a set division of WB Interactive entirely intended to develop experiences from the Wizarding World for both mobile and console, and the first title announced was a mobile experience titled Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery that would seemingly fill the void for a Harry Potter RPG. However, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery ultimately is a disappointing experience that features an insulting abundance of micro-transactions, a lack of interesting or innovative gameplay, a repetitive and clichéd story, and shallow RPG elements that make the dream of a Harry Potter RPG unfortunately, still a dream.
The mobile experience’s greatest redeemable trait is its story. While it bears similar traits to that of Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and isn’t really innovative, the story here is well-told and features an exciting plot. This is the first official Wizarding World story not from Rowling’s imagination. Consequently, the story feels refreshing and gave me a similar feeling to that of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There is a feature in the game allowing choice-making. However, these choices become nothing more than a light gimmick. None of the choices disappointingly make any true differences in the story and the game directs the player to choose the right choice.
In terms of gameplay, Hogwarts Mystery is effectively a point and click adventure, comparable to that of the productions from Telltale Games or Quantic Dream. As a point and click adventure, it features little innovation. The only difference between the game and the norm would be the spell casting. Casting spells requires the player to draw a given shape on the screen. However, it ultimately feels unintuitive as often times the game isn’t able to pick up correct shapes unless they are drawn at a slow pace. It often took multiple attempts to cast a simple circular spell even though each of my attempts were correct. However, the world of Hogwarts is properly envisioned in the game. It features many similarities from EA’s original movie-tie-in games and the film franchise’s art direction. The game is in a 2.5D layout, but it still had a charm that I haven’t been able to experience since the original LEGO Harry Potter games. Even though the gameplay is repetitive and unintuitive, most of your experience with Hogwarts Mystery will be spent off the app. The game features an unprecedented amount of micro-transactions. This is a critical flaw that almost single-handedly sinks the ship of this game. Energy is a central concept in the game as to where once the player runs out of energy, he or she will have to wait for their character to refill their energy. Often, this process is frustrating and slow. In addition, there is a set time limit on each event. For instance, a potions class with Professor Snape may have a set limit of one hour in order to complete the event. With the slow process of refilling energy, there is a limited time window to finish the event of around fifteen minutes. In addition, should you miss the time window, the event restarts and all the process in the event is lost. But there is a solution to this issue, paying excessive amounts of money to refill energy. This feature makes the game dull and frustrating. Within the game, the gameplay is unintuitive and boring. And often times, being able to experience the gameplay is excessively wasteful and frustrating.
As a whole, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery reeks of a lack of potential. The game could have been a memorable and amazing experience. However, due to financial insistences, the game quickly becomes an abundance of unavoidable micro-transactions. In addition, when the player is allowed to experience the game, it has a lack of innovation outside of a decent story. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery quickly becomes a mystery on the reason for its existence. Check out our gameplay for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery on our YouTube channel and be sure to check back regularly for daily reviews and news articles on the latest developments in entertainment.
Score: 2.7 out of 10