The idea of being a student at Hogwarts have always been an alluring thought ever since I read the first Harry Potter book. Hogwarts Mystery in a way provides you with that feeling…just in very short bursts. Which is why we are going to talk about exactly what this game is from GAME JAM and just what it has done for the franchise, while of course letting you know my score in the end. So jump on your Nimbus 2000s and let us soar away to learn what this review is.
A new journey to the World of Magic at Hogwarts
It’s no secret that the thing which is Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery’s strongest point is its story being told throughout the years your avatar attend the school. You play as a new student at Hogwarts about four years after the birth of The Boy Who Lived, so you won’t get to see him, Hermione or Ron for a long time but there are many references to both the movies and books.
You are the protagonist (you’re naming him/her so the game will follow with that), in this case mine was Trinity Du Raven. He is lucky to be starting his first year at Hogwarts but in reality, he is looking for his missing older brother that has been expelled and disappeared shortly afterwards, this happened while he was investigating some “Cursed Vaults” and now it is up to my/your character to figure out everything.
Weirdly while the story isn’t something new and reminds you a lot of how the setting for Harry Potter is, it’s not really a bad point in this direction. The problem however, lies with how it is structured to the gameplay.
Swish and flick, tap to make the magic happen
Hogwarts Mystery has not that many options in terms of its game mechanics. You can tap to move along, swipe move the screen towards your destination, tap to “keep your focus” and draw along a simple pattern to let the magic occur in class.
Other than that you have choices that gives the illusion of choice, as the same outcome happens wether you choose option A, B or C in a dialogue mini-game. Granted if you have the necessary level in Courage, Empathy and Knowledge as it will give you the player a small bonus with xp and to that attribute used.
Speaking of attributes, this game is labeled as an RPG but it has only levels for your character with nothing big happening to you other than you have more in your three attributes which is Courage (Icon: Shield), Empathy (Icon: Heart) and Knowledge (Icon: Book).
Now there can be times where you don’t have the necessary level in your attribute to choose a specific option in the dialogue choices during a story mission perhaps. Maybe there are repercussions from not being able to choose A and instead must go with B? Not really, there’s no real threat being given, no alterations to the game from those choices nor even branching storylines for your character. Your story will always stay the same.
However, I must point out that since the game’s story is still being told and by the time of this review only 5th year has happened, GameJam could turn it around and surprise us in the end.
Yet we must not forget that you can have friends and enemies in this game, these can be chat with in a minigame involving a quiz which can later be turned into like a hangout in Hogsmead…still the same happening but you are getting their level to be higher and who knows how that will pay out when 7th year rolls around.
One last thing that wasn’t the best option for GameJam to go with is that in the beginning when you are sitting with your sorting hat. You can simply just choose the house you want to be in, instead of maybe answering a series of questions that determines where you will be in. If you want a true sorting experience, there’s one over at Pottermore, made by fans which is much better than given here in the game.
A glitch in the Ministry of Magic
Let us be honest here, no game comes without its many glitches and bugs but it baffles me that I have run into several of my own where I would have to restart my phone a couple of times, switching between Wi-Fi and 4G just to connect to their server even before the game has fully loaded. Then there are major glitches where characters are missing, certain things on a character will be missing, tap mechanics won’t be recognized no matter how much try to do what you are told on screen.
Credit to https://www.reddit.com/user/CarryTheStorm for the picture
Yet even from time to time we get these that should be awesome events but then a glitch suddenly makes them hilarious to look at though still something worth of note as something GameJam should be better to catch.
(Credit goes to NADELLINE for the video in this review)
I will point out that glitches and bugs aren’t the major issues I have with the game, it’s actually more with the mechanics themselves. See whenever you want to simply anything in the game, you are majorly timegated with hours that you have to wait passes by until the story can continue. Of course you can always buy gems to move along faster, but my wallet isn’t that big and prices themselves aren’t that expensive but believe the amount of gems needed makes it so the overall price becomes more of a burden than a relief to have purchased.
Gems aren’t the only currency though, there is approximately three to four types you are needed to use in total, gems being one of them the second is goal coins which you can use to unlock certain clothes for your character that you then can change at your leisure.
The next one is a very familiar type…energy… man I hate these in mobile games, but it’s often a necessary thing to have so your players doesn’t play your game for hours upon hours on end before reaching the conclusion to your story after maybe a couple of days. If you use up all your energy you can either refill it with gems or wait to get one energy back every four minutes.
Last one is something new which is books but I haven’t had the pleasure to delve much into what their use is.
QUICK TIP: You can click certain portraits, statues, things lying on the ground and certain characters to get a couple of energy back. This can however only from what I’ve seen like a few times a day. A good way to go about not having to buy energy if you ever run out.
Nostalgic moments all around you
Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery looks quite nice when you see the various locations you get to visit. GameJam has really stepped up their game and encapsulated the look and feel of Hogwarts, Diagon Alley, Hogsmead and so many more.
The character designs have a Sims-esque style to them that is fairly well-animated, showing great expression…in very much the same way that Sims does it. Another point is that backgrounds have this oil like painting when looking at the landscape.
When speaking of the music, there isn’t much but the little we get to hear when playing through the story, or sometimes when a melody comes along. It captures the element of John Williams’ score that was made for the movies. Not much but a small amount to just touch those nostalgic feelings from time to time.
Yet there is one that caught my ears when playing the game with headphones on and that was the brother theme:
Another thing which I enjoyed was to hear the voices of Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape and many other familiar characters again. Though it was hard to distinguish if it was either sound cut from the movies or the real actors who have recorded voicelines for the game. Again it isn’t much but there to be noticed if you play with sound on.
So after all this talk about the various areas of the game I noticed, all the technical difficulties and many aspects that were both good but mostly bad in practice I’m giving the game Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery the final score of:
Originally when I played the game the score was always staying on a 5 out of 10 but the more into the game I journeyed the more frustrated and disappointed I became to see that the magic quickly disappeared so with a heavy heart it quickly got hid with a Reducio to a 3 out of 10.
This game could be a 4 out of 10 if GameJam took it upon themselves to really iron out the many problems that is within the core system. Reduce the amount of gems needed to refill your energy for the level you are in. Or even better, get rid of the system and use more for the cosmetic with gems, gold coins and so forth. Let us the gamers be able to enjoy the game without having to wait hours upon hours to finish a simple story mission.
I won’t recommend for you to play this, unless you are a major Harry Potter fan and even then, please be cautios when starting your own adventure in the magic world of Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery.
What do you guys think of the game? Have you had the pleasure to play the game? Tell me down in the comments below. If you like these types of reviews, be sure to follow the blog.
Stay Cozy and have a Magical Day!