Written by Lauren McEwen
After months and months of waiting, the “Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery” mobile game finally dropped this past Wednesday, April 25. Developed by Jam City, this Portkey Games release is set seven years before the Boy Who Lived will arrive at Hogwarts, but any fan knows that the school was full of secrets and barely hidden dangers long before Harry Potter showed up.
Your character is an incoming first year from a Wizarding family. Although you’re excited about beginning your Hogwarts career, the mystery of your older brother’s expulsion and disappearance hangs over your head. No one will let you forget about it, including Professor Snape and an annoyingly dedicated Slytherin bully named Merula Snyde.
I’ve finally made it to Level 2, and so far, the most fun parts of the game have been customizing my character’s appearance (although skin color and hair options are annoyingly limited), giving her a properly magical surname (Lauren Wolfsbane, at your service), and exploring Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. So far, I’ve had my first Potions class, which was appropriately dreadful, learned how to perform Lumos with Professor Flitwick, and endured three standoffs with Merula, whom I cannot wait to hex.
The animation is beautiful, the dialogue from both the book characters and the game’s original characters is very good, but the game is lacking in a few key areas, in my opinion. For starters, you simply choose your House during the Sorting. There’s no quiz, so it’s essentially a chance to select your Dream House. As someone who deleted Pottermore three times, before finally landing in Ravenclaw on the fourth attempt, I probably shouldn’t be complaining about this, but it was kind of a letdown.
The challenges also aren’t particularly difficult, yet. Much like the original Pottermore, it’s essentially up-close look at the world of Harry Potter, with no real strategy required to play. And while it’s fun to immerse myself in Hogwarts, I would like to do more than simply tap highlighted objects on my screen until the taskbar is full. Hopefully, this will improve as the game progresses, because I would love to actually be able to mix ingredients for potions and learn more spells.
All in all, I am definitely going to keep playing, if for no reason other than the fact that I have to learn how to duel so that I can beat Merula. She may be a fictional child, but I truly despise her.
And I definitely need more Dumbledore, because just look at him: