Hogwarts Mystery, as detailed in my last post, is the new Harry Potter mobile game that was released yesterday. I’ve been grinding hard in PoGo all week in preparation for my first ex raid on Sunday to catch Mewtwo, but of course I had to download Hogwarts Mystery and see if it lived up to the hype 😉

It started out as promised. A cutscene of Professor McGonagall writing your acceptance letter begins the game. Players get to create their own student with a character customization screen. Your character then lands in Diagon Alley to shop for books and school supplies. You meet Rowan, a fellow first-year like yourself, who guides you through the tutorial. Then, it’s off to Hogwarts for the Sorting Ceremony, the start of your first year, and the rest of your journey! Will you live up to your older sibling’s reputation, or create an entirely new one for yourself?

The titular “mystery” revolves around your older sibling, and that’s all I’m going to say about that 😉 Characters perceive you based on the reputation your sibling left behind. You have choices on how to respond when NPCs talk to you. Responding in different ways will level up your Courage, Empathy, or Knowledge scores, which will affect the way your story unfolds. Different spells and potions are unlocked and created by attending class, tapping active objects (those that glow blue), and then tracing a path on the screen to cast the spell or finish the potion. In this regard, the gameplay is simple and intuitive, but doesn’t leave much room for error or experimentation as it would if you were really at school. I don’t think I’ve finished the tutorial yet, but the story so far is also very linear. I haven’t had a chance to explore Hogwarts yet, which is something I had been looking forward to. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to later in the story.

There is a huge let-down right off the bat. I had been assuming that your wand and House assignation would be determined by a quiz, like in Pottermore. I was sooo wrong. You are assigned a wand based on a single dialogue exchange with Ollivander, and you choose your own House. I remember taking the Pottermore quizzes with great care and anticipation, wanting my wand to perfectly reflect my personality and crossing my fingers for Hufflepuff. I remember being elated when my wand came out perfectly, when I was indeed sorted into Hufflepuff. Being assigned one thing and choosing the other felt like being cheated out of that experience. I can see why they did it that way – it moved the beginning along quickly, and some players might have deleted the game had they not gotten the wand/House they wanted. However, they could have made shorter, easier quizzes that players could get through quickly, and made the answers a little more obvious for the Sorting.

Though being cheated out of the experience of assigning my wand/being sorted into my House, I am enjoying the game. It’s not a huge time sink and can be set aside and picked up at the player’s convenience. The graphics are, frankly, stunning. I had no idea that mobile games could look so great! I probably have to progress further to unlock more of the RPG and open-world elements I’m looking for, but for now, I’m just having a ball indulging my inner 11 year old, forever waiting for her Hogwarts acceptance letter.

Kathleen

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