Have you ever wanted to learn spells and charms? Have you taken every quiz ever written to determine your House? Have you dreamed about what it would be like to actually live at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Here’s your chance! The Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery app is here and it’s pretty enchanting.
(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)
You start off by creating and naming your character. The choices to start with are a little limited, but as you play and gain levels, more options for clothing, accessories, hair styles, etc. become available. And you can always go back and change your character’s hair color, eye color, skin color and facial features. So, don’t feel like you’re stuck once you’ve created a character. Also, you CAN make in-app purchases, but it’s totally not necessary. Anything that you can buy with IRL money can be acquired through gameplay. It might take a little longer, but where’s the fun in buying your way through a game anyway?
You will start off in Diagon Alley. The graphics are pretty darn good for a mobile app. There’s the Leaky Cauldron, Ollivander’s and Flourish & Blotts, among other recognizable settings from the books/movies. Other students and magic-wielders are bustling about the Alley. Here is where you meet your first new friend. She’s easy to spot as she has an exclamation point above her head. (Her name is Rowan in my game, but they may randomize the NPCs in different games. I’m not sure. If you play too, leave a comment and let me know if your details are the same.) Any NPC (non-player character) with an exclamation point or other symbols above their head has something to share with you. The game will let you know what things you NEED to click, but you can also try tapping random stuff like house elves and ghosts to see what happens.
When you arrive at Hogwarts with all the other frantic first-years, Dumbledore lets everyone know that the infant Boy Who Lived has been safely placed, and Voldemort is in hiding. It’s kind of cool to play in a pre-Harry setting. There are some familiar characters like Bill Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks and all the professors, but you get to experience a different story that centers around you.
Once in the Great Hall, you can choose your House. I, of course, chose Ravenclaw, because Ravenclaws are the best. It’s just a fact. There can be no argument. You can explore your House Common Room, the Castle Grounds and all sorts of places! Some doors will have Lock symbol on them. These rooms or floors can’t be used until you’ve reached a higher level.
You get to attend classes, learn spells, mix potions and even duel! Because, of course, there’s a nasty Slytherin bully. Also – surprise! – Snape is a jerk-face. As you explore the school and meet its students, you also discover a mystery involving your brother and the clues to solve it!
Even though, the game leads you through your lessons by telling you who to talk to you and what to do to cast spells, I like that it’s not just a bunch of mindless clicking. As you go along, you’ll be asked questions and given choices, and some of the options are definitely better than others. Your answers will affect your gameplay. I’m glad that the characters are so customizable. There’s a range of skin tones and eye and hair colors. (Sadly, no green hair. I’m hoping that opens up at a later level. If Tonks can have pink hair, I should be able to have green!) Mostly, I love the scenery, characters and spells. The graphics are beautiful, the NPCs are engaging and the whole game just feels like visiting old friends and they are just as wonderful as I remember.