A Year On: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

I’ve never been one for mobile phone games. For me, my phone has always been used for communication, social networking and watching dog videos on YouTube!

When I have tried to get into mobile gaming it’s been games based on properties that I enjoy. So I’ve played The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land, Marvel Avengers Academy, Batman: Arkham Underworld and Pokemon GO. While Arkham Underworld lasted a good six months, like the other games it soon hit it’s limitations, with the only real way to progress was by purchasing micro-transactions. At that point I was out!

Pokemon GO on the other hand lasted just under a year. I really enjoyed the game and found myself getting a lot more exercise because I would actively seek go on walks to hatch eggs or visit Pokestops. I often think about returning to the game, but until I get a new phone (with larger storage) I’m putting that on hold. With all the changes and advanced features, I might also be out of my depth! So I have struggled to stick to a game that I can consistently play and enjoy. Then a year ago, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery was launched and my views on mobile gaming changed!

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If you search for reviews of the game you might see one or two stars with lots of negative points. I’ve read these and some of the comments about the game puzzle me. Maybe these people know their mobile games and what makes a great one? But after a few months of playing it I didn’t feel these points were that accurate. Maybe because I’m not a seasoned mobile gamer, I’m missing the negatives, or maybe because I LOVE Harry Potter so much I’m just not registering them? Either way, I found my first few months playing the game really exciting!

The game celebrated it’s one year anniversary on the 25th April this year. I’ve been playing the game since it’s launch, making Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery the longest running mobile game I’ve played to date. Now, if you’re not a fan of Harry Potter, this game is unlikely to grab you. But for those who are, let me give you my thoughts on the game, and if you like what you hear, maybe you will give the game a go yourself?

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Story:

After creating your character, you embark on your first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If you’re a stickler for time frames, the game takes place between 1984 and 1991. The main story has you searching for cursed vaults, hidden within Hogwarts. You are trying to find out what happened to your brother, Jacob, who disappeared. You believe the cursed vaults have something to do with it, and must protect Hogwarts from an ancient evil!

Each year brings more questions, challenges and dangers during your search for the next vault. But there’s still the matter of student life to deal with!

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The Basics:

Each year you will learn news spells and potions and undertake a range of classes that you’ll need to pass, in order to proceed with the main story. During the school year there will be special events to win exclusive items (which you can unlock by taking classes) or mini-side quests involving other students and other things familiar to fans of the Wizarding World.

The gameplay is simple, it’s an energy based system, so you tap away at the highlight sections of the scenario, your energy goes down and is then replenished over time. One energy is four minutes in real time. Quests and classes can last between 1, 3 and 8 hours. Usually the classes or events will have a cut off after reaching each checkpoint in the event. You will then have to either cast a spell (using a finger trace system), answer questions (based on the Wizarding World lore) or take part in other mini games to gain extra rewards. It’s very simple, tap away to progress and win!

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Positives:

The character customisation is really good for a mobile game. Yes it’s not at a Fallout or Skyrim level, but even so, you can still make a character that looks like you! The story aspect is also really strong. The main narrative is really exciting and feels very much in-place within the established lore and aesthetic of the Wizarding World. They have continued to improve and add features to the game, so it is constantly evolving. They’ve added dueling, ‘fantastic beasts’ and other events since the game’s launch and always trying to add new features. Creating friendships and relationships is also another positive! You can have feelings for characters of the same sex, which is a progressive step and a welcome addition. Hogwarts also has a more diverse feel, because there is a greater range of characters at the forefront of the story and not just in the background.

If you’re a fan of the Wizarding World there is a lot of enjoyment to be had here. You’ll get to hang around with young versions of character such as Tonks and Bill Weasley! You’ll interact with all your favourite Hogwarts teachers as well as a whole host of new, original characters.

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Negatives:

Some of the special item events, which have either a 2 day or 5 day timer, do feel very unobtainable. And these events are definitely geared towards pushing you to purchasing micro-transactions. Some of the events are clearly out of reach unless you dish out real-world money, and I’m not going to do that. Luckily I’m not a sucker for needing various ‘special clothing’ items.

The game’s most consistent fault, according to others, is the repetition of the main gameplay. Is the game repetitive? Yes and no. It is in terms of the tapping energy triggers to progress and learn new spells. But they are adding more mini game features to break this up. And again, the story is interesting enough that theirs a strong motivation to continue playing.

While these things are an annoyance, they good outweighs the bad, so my overall enjoyment of playing Hogwarts Mystery remains a positive experience.

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, the chances are you’ll enjoy your time playing Hogwarts Mystery. It really taps into the world, but at the same time it is creative enough to bring new aspects to the established canon. While aspects of the gameplay are repetitive at times, the quality of the main narrative is the games overall winning factor. #Hufflepuff4Life

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is available now on iOS and Android devices.

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