For me, the Harry Potter universe started with the books. The Goblet of Fire was already released by the time I picked up the series but I made quick work of them. I became one of those fans who would pre-order the new books so that it would arrive on the day of release. I would more often than not read it from start to finish in one go, stopping only to eat and sleep. Similarly, when the movies came out it became a family tradition to go and see them at the cinema together. So as J.K Rowling has continued to milk the franchise for every penny it has left, what with “The Cursed Child” and the planned 7 movies of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” (which has quickly turned into a Grindlewald series), I felt my inner fanboy diminish. Enter Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
For those of you unaware, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a recently released mobile game. The playstore boasts this description: “Your Hogwarts letter has arrived! Explore, learn spells & more in a magical RPG!” So how would I describe the game having played it for the last few days?
So essentially, as you may imagine, it all starts off with the arrival of your Hogwarts letter. It was at this very stage where I learned that this game was going to suck! After you’ve created and named your character (I’d just been watching Agents of Shield so I went with Cammy Destroyer of Worlds) you “explore” Diagon Alley. However, you quickly discover the nature of this game. If you ever played Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for PC then you may be aware of the spell casting mechanism. Essentially, you had to draw a pattern with your mouse and the more accurately your matched the symbol, the better the spell. Screenshots of this game led me to believe that this was the case…it isn’t.
Anyway, you meet some dude who is also going to Hogwarts who called Ronan or Rowan or Ronald or something. He instantly tells you about his ambition to become head-boy, how he’s read every book on magic and how people pick on him because he is “weird”. You can therefore imagine my shock when I choose Slytherin as my house and notice little, nerdy Ronan wearing matching robes.
The game continues and you go to classes, duel people and play mini-games. You have rivalries in your house with this girl and others who believe your brother (who appears to have been trying to help Voldermort or something by leaving to find “The Cursed Vaults”) disgraced his house (Slytherin…I mean it’s like these people never read a Harry Potter book…). So in my mind, the game was already off to a rocky start…but it gets worse.
A game which has “explore” as one of its many selling points including “explore never before seen rooms in Hogwarts castle” yet you are limited to about 4 or 5 rooms for the entire first year. Most places and characters aren’t unlocked until your 6th or even 7th year which you’ll never reach paying your way through Hogwarts. Something we’ll cover in a moment.
Farmville x Tell-tale Stories
The claim that you can explore this magical world is a DRASTIC exaggeration. In fact, there is very little exploring to do. If I could describe the game to you in one sentence, I would say this: It’s like combining Farmville with a Harry Potter Tell-Tale Story game except none of your decisions matter and everything is rigged to head in one direction. If I was giving the app an honest description, that’s exactly what it would say.
As I already mentioned, the game doesn’t take into account the fact that you’ve joined the house known from being evil. I do appreciate the fact that you’re able to select any house and aren’t automatically thrown into Gryffindor but the means very little if the story simply changes the name of your house and the colour you wear.
The thing is; all you’re really doing is tapping stuff. It’s incredibly dull. When you duel, it’s a rock, paper, scissors style game whereby you have three options to choose from and whatever you pick will either beat one option or be beaten by the other. Even when you play the marbles game, you don’t play marbles (or whatever the game is called), you simply try and distract your opponent. Taking classes is all about clicking random objects or people in the room. And this, of course, is where the micro-transactions come into play.
Fucking Micro Transactions
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is nothing if not a soulless cash-grab. To explain why, let me just say this. I had barely made it to Hogwarts before I was given two options: wait several hours to allow my “energy” to recharge or pay disgusting amounts of money to buy “gems” which I could then exchange for “energy”. Considering the fact that this game is UNDOUBTEDLY aimed at kids, how can they have the nerve to charge so much money to play what is actually an awful game?
Some of the missions or quests you receive very early on give you a similar choice to the one I initially faced. Either you pay 50 gems or you wait three hours. At least energy recharges over time but you have to actually earn gems which means that unless you’re willing to pay real world money into Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery then you (or your child) will be stuck waiting for 3 hours.
They reel you in with magic, Hogwarts, familiar teachers and the promise of mystery and adventure. In truth, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a poorly made game with no heart, no soul and only one agenda: making money from children. For some bizarre and fucked up reason, this game is being rated exceptionally well on the Play Store and personally, I have no idea why. I gave it 1 star and explained in plenty of detail why it’s one of the worst games I’ve ever played.
To me, what is truly awful about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is that they’ve taken a premise which I adored growing up: A Harry Potter game where you can roam around, explore, study magic, collect items and earn point for your house and they’ve poisoned it with a story that a 7 year old could have come up with and micro transactions left, right and centre. I understand that these games exist to make money and I have no problem with that…but when you’re stopped from playing a game less than 5 minutes in due to running out of “energy” then what’s the point?
When I heard this game was coming out, I couldn’t wait. I had such high expectations which sadly, were not remotely met. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is simply an example of how lazy and money-hungry mobile game creators truly are. Some of the earlier Gameboy games for the series were drastically more entertaining than this monstrosity and they were pixelated and had 8-bit soundtracks!
Thanks for reading! Have you played Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery? What did you think? Let me know down below!
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