Warning: This article contains minor spoilers for the Harry Potter series. Read with caution!
Let me begin this article by stating I am the biggest Harry Potter nerd. I cannot tell you how many hours and days I’ve spent on this series, from books and movies to theme parks and collector’s items. I’ve done it all and own it all. It’s the series I grew up with, the one that has been so impactful on my life, and I know it will stick with me for my entire life. That’s why when the Hogwarts Mystery app came out, I was ecstatic. But as a superfan, I have to say I wasn’t impressed by it.
The overall personal experience of the app is incredibly interesting. As the player, you create your avatar, but the options for your appearance are scarce — at first. Like any other game, the further you move through the game the more appearance attributes you unlock. Another facet carried over from the movies is representation in terms of skin color and ethnicities. This could be an assumption on my end, but the companion your character meets in Diagon Alley, Rowan, is Indian. Dialogue is truly how you craft your character and give it the personality you deem. There is an added layer of depth to your character: your sibling was expelled from Hogwarts. You have a reputation for that reason, but you are able to respond in the way you want. The responses are very reflective of how the different houses would respond to the questions. The backstory adds a sense of mystery and is refreshing since it shifts away from the traditional Harry Potter storyline.
Aside from the personal story, the app falls short.
It feels more like you are going through the motions — literally, you have to click a dozen times to finish one mission — instead of experiencing the magic. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the sorting once you arrive at Hogwarts. This is an experience everyone has anticipated to go through, to exchange banter with the famous Sorting Hat, but it simply asks which house you prefer, then proceeds to sort you into your chosen house.
The game is unrealistic for veterans of the series who know what happens to certain characters, even if we want to experience it from the very beginning like Harry did. Although that is certainly an individual bias, it’s something we can’t help. Another disadvantage of this game is the time constraints. It takes forever to restore energy, and most of the time, players can only play in short time spurts, which means in certain cases the scenarios or levels will time out. This connects with the need for gems which provide your character energy to continue on. When you run out of gems, you need to buy more. The price of these gems fluctuates as well.
Overall, I think the Hogwarts Mystery app is a great game for those who have begun or haven’t read the series in its entirety. The graphics are sharp, and all of the iconic Wizarding World traits are accurate and in the open. Although, if you are a veteran, this game might seem tiresome.
The real mystery lies in imagining yourself in the Wizarding World, and for that, visuals are not always necessary. It all depends on how you want to keep the magic alive.