Sunday, 29 April 2018

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (A Witch's Review)

First of all, let me tell you what this Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is all about: it's a new mobile game, released on this past 25th of April, based on my favourite book series, Harry Potter. So as you might expect if you know me, I was extremely excited to be able to download it and play it myself. It was marketed as a game where you can create your own character and take on the role of a Hogwarts student, experiencing all seven years and taking part in classes while solving a mystery. My hype was all up, as I was expecting sort of crossover between The Sims game and Hogwarts.

It starts in 1984, a bit after Harry defeated Voldemort for the first time, and it features characters known from the books during their student years like Bill and Charlie Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks and teachers who were working at Hogwarts during that time such as Hagrid, Snape, McGonagall, Dumbledore, Flitwick and Madam Hooch. We also see Filch and Ms. Norris, who are as detestable as always.

Our journey begins creating our character before arriving at Diagon Alley where twe meet Rowan Khanna who advises us to purchase our books from Flourish and Blotts and we then become friends, after getting our names straight. Afterwards, we get a wand from Ollivanders and we find out we have a brother, Jacob, who went missing and, depending on the answer we select in response, we will receive one possible wand wood and core out of three possible ones. We arrive at Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat asks us which house we're hoping for and then place us there, which will be the same house Rowan was placed in.

Now this looks tons of fun, right? Right. And it is. For a while. We get to complete missions in the story, where we get closer and closer to find what happened to our brother Jacob, and also learn spells, potions and how to fly properly with Madam Hooch (who is somehow better at Divination than Trelawney and manages to name a broom, Firebolt, which will only be released in the future). The problem is that it's an energy-based game. So we're living our Hogwarts magical dreams... until we run out of energy. You need energy to complete most of the game's tasks and then you have to wait for it to fill up to free before we can continue playing.  Of course, you can refill your energy by using some gems, the game’s premium currency, but it costs real money. We also have to wait around 3h for the next tasks... It's basically just a very long waiting game... And I don't like to be kept waiting. Also, it's not like we haven't already done our waiting, twelve years of it, in Azkaban!

Another subject I'd like to point out is our characters customization, or the lack of thereof. We don't have a lot of options to start with (we could've had it all with The Sims - Hogwarts Mystery) and most of the actual customization costs either a huge amount of in-game galleons or gems (again, the paid ones) so we're reduced to a short amount of options if you're a poor Weasley, or just don't want to spend money with the game. Even if you're willing to put your actual money in the game, there aren't a lot of options either so I'd save your money.

Finally, let me just mention a few more issues. We don't have access to all locations at once, but rather we get access to them as we move up in years at Hogwarts. For example, I understand how a first-year can't get into the Divination classroom but it makes no sense to me to have the Owlery unlocked only in the sixth year. I mean, I come from a magical family, they're going to get worried if I don't communicate with them for six years! I also haven't figured out the housecup points system, who decides (and how) which house is winning?

Now, will I continue to play this? Absolutely, I will stay with it until the very end, or until there's no more years to level up to (also, I want to know what happened to my brother!). I would even keep playing if Portkey Games added life after Hogwarts such as jobs and eventually meeting Harry's timeline, playing as a side character, just minding my own bussiness, and we happen to cross paths sometimes with Harry and his friends (in Hogsmeade or Hogwarts, for example). Just a suggestion I leave here, leave it or take it, Portkey Games!

Personally, I'm really curious about the whole Jacob issue and I also want to know who teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts! What about you, did you install the game? What are your thoughts on it?

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