When Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery was made available for download on the App Store on May 25, I couldn’t be more thrilled to start playing it. I was in the middle of a studying week for a major data analytics exam and dropped everything just to lay my hands on this app game.
I’ve since completed only six of ten chapters in Year 1 of the game but I’m done. The gameplay couldn’t have been more tortorous.
Hogwarts Mystery is void of any decent strategy. Majority of my time playing the game was spent tapping mindlessly on my phone’s screen just to expend my limited amount of energy in almost every stage of the game
It requires you do so to complete “actions” meant to simulate your character doing something progressive during an event, yet these actions do not demonstrate anything. They are purely namesakes like “”listen”, “understand” and even “rest” that you aimlessly click away at in order to get through a classroom lesson or an encounter with a deadly magical plant.
The game has been criticized most heavily for this energy mechanic. One energy point regenerates every four minutes, so it takes well over 1.5 hours to fully replenish your energy meter, which starts at around 25 points. Either wait it out or spend actual money buying energy via in-app purchases: very kid-friendly, isn’t it?
Occasionally during lessons, the game requires you to trace a pattern mimicking a spell’s wand movement (similar to 2001’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone PC game), focus to tap an expanding ring before it exceeds a border, or presents you with a trivia question to earn bonus incentives– very silly stuff meant for 10-year olds.
There’s a Choose Your Own Adventure component in the form of picking your preferred response during dialogues with non-playable characters, but most of the time they just award you a small amount of points that contributes to your character’s metrics: courage, empathy and knowledge.
I’ve yet to see how any of my responses majorly influenced the course of the story. If anything, the game repeatedly required me to choose responses that pander to a character in order to achieve a certain goal, such as persuading a friend to join in on some quest.
Unlike Pottermore, players choose their own Hogwarts house (I picked Slytherin) upon reaching Hogwarts and attending the Sorting Ceremony. Pick wisely because it’s one of the only few traits about your character that you cannot change subsequently. Almost everything else, from your character’s name to appearance (including skin tone) can be altered at any point you wish.
The graphics are beautiful, but Hogwarts is not truly open-world, a step backward from the sandbox styles of the PC games from over 15 years ago. Most locations in this game are inaccessible until you reach later stages, and gameplay exists on a 2D plane where you swipe only left or right to navigate your view.
Finally, I don’t understand the objective of the game. Set in the ’80s, long before Harry Potter himself enrols in Hogwarts, the game follows a brand new story involving some scandal regarding your character’s brother, but it’s all quite hard to follow when you’re constantly tapping away at these endless text-only conversations.
Coins and jewels can be collected and used to buy your character new hairstyles, accessories and clothing, something I can’t be bothered with because the Hogwarts robes already look fine.
The purpose of the game is weak. Coupled with its painful, brainless gameplay, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is perhaps the worst Harry Potter video game I’ve ever played. To think this was released in 2018, 17 years after the absurdly denounced Sorcerer’s Stone video game that I would choose over Hogwarts Mystery any day.