TITLE: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Android, iOS)
DEVELOPER: Jam City
RELEASED: April 25, 2018
PRICE: Free, In-game purchases
MY RATING: 1/5
HP fans: Avoid
Like any other Potterhead, I was naturally ultra hyped at the first Harry Potter universe game described as “an exciting adventure”, where “the choices you make will define your Hogwarts story”. You’ll be able to choose your house, create lasting friendships, master powerful spells and potions, and discover new magical mysteries. LIES. All lies.
I’ve spent several weeks on this addicting atrocity and advanced to year 3, so you poor darlings wouldn’t have to. Truth be told, I was quite addicted at one point, but you’ll quickly come to realize this fake of a game offers nothing it promised, except endless clicking to use energy, and then endless waiting for it to fill up. Unless you want to buy it, of course?
It started out promising, with a visit to Diagon Alley, where I got to pick my wand, buy some stuff, and where I met my first friend – Rowan. It’s always Rowan. If you’re male – he is too, if you’re female – she is too. And of course she/he’ll end up in the same house as you, even though he/she is undoubtedly a Ravenclaw. Speaking of which – when the hat asks you in which house you want to be – you just click one and that’s it. No quizzes, no personality tests, not even a single doubt from the poor ole’ hat.
When you interact with characters throughout the story, you always have several different options to choose in the dialogue tree. Don’t be fooled – the outcome is always the same. Whatever you do or say, the outcome is same. Your choices will not define your Hogwarts story. When Hagrid asked me how he should name his new pup, I didn’t say Fang, but he was named so nonetheless. Speaking of characters – they don’t ever speak. You’ll only hear an occasional annoying grunt, squeak, or ah and oh and umm from them. Ah…
The main currency in this game is energy. You have it quite a lot at the beginning, 15 wow, and there are several spots throughout Hogwarts where you can replenish one energy point daily, sometimes even more often. But as you enter a class and start your first lesson, or go on an “adventure”, or almost anything at all, really, you’ll realize how fast this energy goes away. In a lesson, you just have to click click, and spend spend your energy, and then wait wait wait wait until it refills, so you can click and spend more, and voila! The lesson is done. You know a spell. If it’s usable in dueling, that’s cool. if not – you’ll use it probably once and that’s it. Except lumos. You’ll use lumos everywhere.
The other currencies are coins and gems. You get coins pretty often, from lessons and such, and you spend them when entering a duel, a meal with a friend, or a game of gobstones (more on that later), and to buy these fancy clothes which you can wear, imagine that. Also, you’ll get attribute points from clothes. There are three: courage, empathy and knowledge. These contribute to your overall level, your strength against an oponent in a duel or gobstones, and nothing important really. Then there are gems. Sweet pink gems which you so rarely get, and when you finally manage to collect some, you’ll get crazy with energy waiting and go and buy some with your sweet pink gems, so you don’t have to spend real money. Though you’ll be tempted to. If you persevere and manage to collect enough gems over several real life weeks, you’ll be able to buy a pet – wow! And what does the cat/owl/frog/rat do? Nothing. It just appears next to you when you’re in the hallways, and if it’s asleep you get to click it for one measly point of energy. WOW!!! Also, you can buy more unnecessary clothes with those hard earned gems, yay! And if you still don’t have enough – well just buy them with real money, it’s that simple! There are sweet deals quite often, and when you buy the imaginary gems, you’ll have enough for a cool new imaginary sweater, double yay!
When I realized how cash grabbing and boring this game is, I still endured, focusing on the interesting parts of the game, where you can earn some sweet (imaginary) gems, coins, energy, or boost your friendships. I’m talking about meal with a friend, playing gobstones, and dueling. The first two function like this: in every 6 and 16 hours, respectively, you can go and eat and play with one of the characters in the game. At first it’s just Rowan, but as you advance you’ll meet so many amazing lil’ friends who are always the same, do the same things, and say the same stuff. During your meal/game, you’ll be asked questions by your friend, and if you answer correctly – you get points, if you don’t – you lose points. The questions are unique for each friend and blatantly stupid. You can memorize them all by session three. And if that’s not easy enough, there are also versions of this where there are TWO correct answers among the three choices. Wow. Just wow.
Once I realized how stupid this was too, I focused on dueling. You can’t duel whenever you want. There are sessions you have to wait for, sometimes for even 7/8 real life days. Yay. When you do get to duel, finally, you have these tickets. What are tickets, you ask me? Another cash grabbing source of evil – I say to you. At first, you had several tickets (I think 5), and whenever you lost a duel – you lost a ticket, if you won, your wagered ticket was replenished. Okay, cool. I had a lucky streak, but eventually I lost 5 times in total, and then guess what? Tickets didn’t replenish. Ever. You had to buy them with, wait for it…….gems. Yes. Or real money. Then, after a lot of complaints, the turds who made this game changed it to this: you start with 3 tickets now, and they do replenish in time, but you’ll have to wait, friend. A while. And while you wait – the dueling session slowly expires in real time – and you can’t duel anymore! OMFG! Or, you know, you can buy yourself some tickets with real money, and not lose your dueling chance for another week or so. Your choice. This IS a game of choices, right? Right???
Now, it’s not that much the form of dueling that got me so interested to swim along through this crap river, it’s the elusiveness of it, you know? The less they give you something – the more you want it. Psychology. Marketing. Turd. Anywho, the form of dueling was so unique and different from anything else in the game, you know, so it gets addictive. The form I’m talking about is rock-paper-scissors. Yes, you’ve read that right. Such an algorithm, wow, amazed, super amazed. You have 3 different moves to choose – aggressive, sneaky and defensive – and they beat each other in circle, in the order I wrote them. That is it. You fight AI’s, not your friends like I’ve seen it marketed. So all you have to do is outsmart the AI in rock-paper-scissors. Clap clap. There is a bit broader aspect to this though, which kept me going even when I was a click away from deleting this hellturd from my phone. In each type of attack mode, you can choose what you’ll attack with – a potion with small/medium/large damage, a charm with small/medium/large damage which can also stun the opponent for one turn, or you can take a healing potion which will replenish your stamina for two turns. And that is it my friends. That’s all there is to this game.
When you’re not in lessons, “adventuring”, or answering stupid questions – you can’t do anything. This is not an open world game. You just click on a certain floor – you’re there, in the far left corner. You can’t freely walk, talk or do anything freely, really. Except choosing your house, and spending real money (But is it a free and natural decision, really?). As my last “turd on a doorstep” for this game, you might have noticed I always write “adventuring” in quotes. Well, that’s because it really isn’t. Adventuring, that is. It’s just the same old spending energy, then waiting for it to refill, so you can do-over some stupid actions, like “check in the box” and “inspect the shelf”, over and over and over again, for three hours. Some lessons can last 5, even 8 hours if you want to earn more points. Imagine 8 hours of spending all your energy in the first 2 minutes, then 2 hours of waiting for it to refill, then rinse and repeat. 8 hours. Eight hours.
Goodbye you stupid, cash grabbing game, you’ve took more than my cash – you took hours of life from an unsuspected Potterhead who thought “Finally, this is it.” Hours I’ll never get back. If you truly love Harry Potter, please, avert your eyes and wallets from this horror. Instead, go and re-watch the movies, and re-read the books. That will take less time than to complete a single lesson in this game, but you’ll cherish it far more. And it’s free.