Written by: Courtney Miller
Having been a Potterhead for the majority of my life, I desperately wanted to like the new mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. However, after several months of playing it, I must admit defeat: I can’t like it.
Admittedly, the storyline for the game is, at times, intriguing. It’s set before Harry Potter comes to Hogwarts, but after the death of Lily and James Potter. Instead of hunting down Voldemort, you spend your seven school years chasing down the Cursed Vaults. You also have a fictional brother who went missing chasing those same vaults, and now it’s up to you to find him and conquer them, despite the presence of a whole staff of people more qualified than you who could do it.
As you advance through the game in a combination of free exploration and following main and side quests, you make friends and attend classes. You also gain new magical abilities as you learn them and choose from menus of approximately three options to decide how to go about finding the vaults. It all sounds great, or at least good enough.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is boring at best. The majority of tasks simply require you to tap the screen without any real skill involved, and occasionally trace a line figure to cast a spell or add ingredients to a potion. On rare quests, you’ll be able to duel somebody which involves rock-paper-scissors style chance — aggressive trumps sneaky which tops defensive which wins over aggressive — and then either more line-tracing or simply a screen tap to throw a potion.
The developers have made a couple of recent improvements which have expanded the playability of the game, but which are not enough to really make it a game you desperately want to play. They made it so that you can level up your friendships with other students between classes without waiting for it to be part of the main or side storylines. However, this entails answering questions which you may or may not already know. This ranges from information about different dragons when talking with Charlie Weasley to knowing entirely too much information about Filch the caretaker in order to get to know Nymphadora Tonks.
The latest development has been the launch of the duelling club, a room located in the dungeons where you can challenge other players to duels using the aforementioned rock-paper-scissors style. However, currently you can only use the duelling club during specific duelling events, and you get three tickets. Every time you lose, you lose a ticket, and when the three are gone, it costs 120 gems (in-game currency which you can buy more of) for a new set of three.
While the game is not the most innovative or challenging, you do get to learn more about Harry Potter and live out your childhood (or current) dreams of attending Hogwarts. Plus, Minerva McGonagall is around in this game, so that’s pretty worth it.
Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.