Twenty years after the first book was published, the world of Harry Potter continues to grow and thrive. (And yes, I felt old typing that sentence.) This week, developer Jam City released the latest chapter in the saga, the mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.
Same School, New Story
The game, available on both Android and iOS, does not actually feature everyone’s favorite boy wizard. The story is set about ten years before the events of the books, so while we see some familiar faces such as Dumbledore and Snape, the main cast of characters is entirely new. However, much of the dialogue is lifted directly from the books and films, so there’s a comforting sense of familiarity despite the new faces.
You play a brand-new Hogwarts student whose brother was expelled from the school several years earlier. Through a series of quests and conversations with NPCs (non-player characters), you must try to unravel the mystery of why he was kicked out and what happened to him after he subsequently disappeared.
The character creation screen is impressive for a mobile game. Similar to The Sims, you’re given a range of skin tones, features, and hairstyles to choose from. “It was super important to us, that all Harry Potter fans feel like they can create a character that looks like them, and know that they belong in Hogwarts,” Matt London of Jam City explained. “So everything from lip shape, to eyebrow shape, nose shape, all these things are adjustable.”
Additional customizations and outfits are unlocked as you play or available for in-game currency. Like many free-to-play games, you can either purchase this currency for real money or accrue it through quest rewards.
Despite the massive amount of work that went into designing the game—including a script of over 200,000 words and two years of intensive development and programming—the actual gameplay is very basic. You are guided through the world of wizardry by quest givers who want you to tap on highlighted objects or trace simple paths on your screen to cast “spells.”
If you’re looking for a challenging game, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is not it. Kids can easily play and follow the story, but grown-up fans of the franchise may want to wait for the forthcoming augmented reality game from the makers of Pokémon GO.