Fans of the magical world of Harry Potter, like myself, have been waiting very patiently for a worthy Harry Potter game to hit the app store for years. Sure, we’ve had a few puzzle and hidden object games, not to mention the countless quiz games, but nothing that has really quenched our thirst. So when I saw that a new Harry Potter game was in the works, one that looked quite promising, I immediately pre-registered for notifications, and waited.
Well, the wait just might finally be over! Well, for some, that is. On April 23rd, Warner Brothers’ Portkey Games and Jam City released the full, finished Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery game, and I jumped into the app store to download it.
Today, I am going to give you my first impressions of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, as well as an in-depth look at all that the game has to offer. I’ve been playing it religiously since the download finished yesterday afternoon, and I want to share some thoughts with you.
WARNING: This post contains major spoilers for the first few chapters of the game. You have been warned!
You’ve finally received your letter to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and it’s time to choose your look. You can choose whether you want to be a Witch (girl), or a Wizard (boy), and from there, you have a few options to customize your skin color, face shape, facial features, and your hair color and style. Don’t worry, you can change your appearance later on, and you unlock more outfits and appearance to purchase options as you level up.
When you first enter the game, you are just outside of Diagon Alley, preparing to stock up on school supplies. In this tutorial stage of the game, you meet fellow first-year student, Rowan Khanna (whose gender changes depending on which gender you chose for your own character, but their name stays the same). Rowan guides you through the first few tutorial stages of the game, such as getting your wand from Ollivander’s, and buying books. At this point, the game begins to present itself as a choose your own adventure style role-playing game, where each decision you choose changes the outcome of the event, shapes the story, and designates which points you gain toward your personality attributes. So, if you were holding out, with your fingers crossed, for a more open-ended, full simulation of the Hogwarts experience, then you’re out of luck. Sorry!
The game also uses an energy system, like most apps these days tend to do. Before we get into the story and gameplay, so I will say that if you are not a fan of games that use energy, and require you to wait a bit before continuing on, then you might be in for some disappointment. You burn through energy very quickly, and it takes 4 minutes to restore a single energy. This can make completing certain, timed tasks a bit difficult, forcing you to repeat them. You can always buy more energy from the in-game store, but… well, you know how it goes with microtransactions.
Anyway, back to the game.
You and Rowan become fast friends, bonding over being outcasts, and this is when you learn more about the plot of the game while in Mr. Ollivander’s shop: Your older brother, who attended Hogwarts years before you, went mad while trying to find Hogwarts’ rumored Lost Vaults. He was expelled from Hogwarts, before disappearing completely, never to be seen or heard from again.
When you finally arrive at Hogwarts, you get your first glimpse of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, alive and well, as well as several other familiar faces. Here, it is learned that Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery takes place several years the world of Harry Potter as we know it. A very young Harry Potter has just escaped from the evil Lord Voldemort, who murdered his parents, and is now safe with his aunt and uncle.
After Dumbledore finishes speaking, it’s time to be sorted. Unfortunately, they cut some corners when it comes to the Sorting Hat ceremony, and you can simply choose which house you’d prefer to be in, as opposed to answering a few, simple questions, just to spice things up. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel even asking a few, obvious questions would have livened up the process a bit.
I chose Slytherin for my character (obviously), while my husband chose Hufflepuff, just to give you a glimpse into their Common Room, which is the first place your quest log sends you after you are sorted.
Here, you meet back up with your new friend, Rowan, who has been sorted into the same house as you, as well as a few other housemates, and your House Prefect (my Slytherin Prefect is named Felix). You are also guided a bit more through the various buttons on your screen while you are here, and taught about classes.
Aside from the Common Rooms, there are also several levels to explore in hogwarts, and outside, which contain classrooms, Common Rooms, the training grounds, and various other rooms like the Kitchens and storage closets, which can only be unlocked as you progress through the game, or if you are from a certain House, etc. There are a lot of future places that I am excited to unlock! I would also like to quickly note that the artwork in these areas, as well as the side-scrolling feature used to navigate them, is all very nice, especially for a mobile game!
In your first year, you will only be attending three classes: Charms, Potions, and Flying, but you will get to go to other classes later on, such as Divination and Transfiguration. You will learn new spells, potions, and abilities from each class, which become necessary to move forward in the game, and are essential for duals and battles. These classes are where the vast majority of your energy will be spent. Each class is timed, snd can be 1 hour, 3 hours, or more. Longer classed yield higher rewards.
Make sure to complete the objectives in the allotted time frame, otherwise, you will have to start the class over again. However, you don’t appear to be penalised as far as the story goes for failing to complete a class. You also receive rewards, such as gold, attribute points, and diamonds for completing your classes, and they are essential to move forward.
And what kind of Harry Potter game would it be if you didn’t have a cruel, Draco Malfoy-esque rival? Well, you do. Meet Merula Snyde. At every turn, Merula tries to sabotage you, claims superiority over your abilities, and belittles your attempts to find out the truth about your brother, who she brings up constantly. She’s literally the worst, and people seem to take her word over yours every time, both because of her long, family legacy at Hogwarts, and because of your brother’s shady history. Did I mention she tries to get you killed on your first day, simply because she’s jealous that you’re probably a better witch/wizard than her? Yeah, she freaking does that!
That little witch…
You also meet other Hogwarts students as you move forward, like your house Prefect, who scolds you when you get blamed for something that probably wasn’t even your fault, and a timid, Muggle-born Gryffindor student named Ben, who becomes one of your closest friends, after you come to his rescue and duel Merula to get her to stop tormenting the other students. The better your relationship is with those you encounter, the more rewards you can unlock!
True to the world of Harry Potter, there is also a House Cup, which is awarded to the house that acquires the most points by the end of the year. My house, Slytherin, was off to a rough start, and lost 10 points in Potions class, thanks to Merula Snyde, and some internal sabotage. It won’t be the first time your interactions with Merula cause your house points either. She sucks.
I’m just about finished with Chapter 4 now, and I have to say, I am quite pleased with the game overall. I don’t mind waiting for my energy to refill, though I am not a fan of the fact that the game often makes you wait an hour or two to continue onto the next chunk of story, regardless of how much energy you have. When this happens, I usually just go waste some energy in one of my classes for rewards. Overall, the game is not perfect, but I definitely think it’s a great game, and I’m really enjoying it this far. I am constantly checking my phone to see if I have enough energy to jump back into the story, which grabs a hold of you, and keeps you wondering what the heck is going to happen next.
Like, what happened to your freaking brother?!
If you are a die hard fan of the HP series, or even are just looking for a story-rich game to pick up, then I highly recommend Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. I mean, it’s a role playing game that revolves around YOUR enrollment at Hogwarts! How great is that? However, if you are the impatient type, whose attention can not be held by games that require you to wait around for your energy to refill, then maybe skip this one. If they just gave you more energy, or reduced how much energy was needed to complete tasks, or even allowed it recharge faster, then Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery would be nearly perfect for the type of game that it is. I’ve already recruited a few friends in my inner circle to download and play, and it makes me happy to see those around me enjoying the game as well, and sharing their thoughts!
Check the game out for yourself, and let me know what you think! Do you think we’ll ever get an open-ended, simulation style Harry Potter mobile game? I really hope so!
Thanks for reading!