There’s about one hour of magic at the start of Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery Hack, when an owl gets there from Dumbledore with a letter bearing your name and you’re whisked off to Diagon Alley to prepare for your wizarding education. Just like a great deal of smartphone game titles, Hogwarts Mystery Hack looks a little basic, but it’s not sluggish; it’s colourful and softly humorous. Fan-pleasing details come by means of dialogue voiced by celebrities from the Harry Potter videos, cameos from beloved personas and allusions to nuggets of Potter trivia.
The enchantment fades when you can the first report interlude, where your identity becomes tangled up in Devil’s Snare. After a few seconds of furious tapping to free yourself from its handbags, your energy works out and the overall game asks you to pay a couple of quid to refill it – or wait around an hour or for it to recharge. Sadly, this is completely by design.
From this point onwards Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery Hack will everything it can to stop you from playing it. You can not get through a good single class without having to be interrupted. An average lesson now entails 90 seconds of tapping, followed by an hour of hanging around (or a purchase), then another 90 seconds of tapping. An outlay of ?2 every 90 mere seconds is not really a reasonable ask. Between story missions the hold out times are even more egregious: three hours, even eight time. Hogwarts Mystery pulls the old trick of hiding the real cost of its acquisitions behind an in-game “gem” currency, but I worked out that you’d have to spend about ?10 each day just to play Hogwarts Mystery for 20 consecutive minutes. The interruptions prevent you from forming any sort of connection to your fellow students, or to the mystery in the centre of the story. It really is like trying to learn a e book that requests money every 10 internet pages and slams shut on your fingers if you refuse.
Without the Harry Potter trappings the overall game would have nothing to recommend it. The lessons quickly become uninteresting and the writing is disappointingly bland, though it does make an effort with identity dialogue. Duelling other students and casting spells are fun, but the majority of the time you’re just tapping. Aside from answering the strange Potter-themed question in category, you never have to engage the human brain. The waits would be more bearable if there is something to do in the meantime, like discovering the castle or speaking with other students. But you can find nothing to find at Hogwarts, no activity it doesn’t require yet more energy.
Harry Potter is a powerful enough illusion to override all of that, at least for a while. The existence of Snape, Flitwick or McGonagall is just enough to keep you tapping through uneventful classes and clear effort has truly gone into recreating the look, sound and feel of the institution and its personas. But by enough time I got to the end of the first 12 months I was encouraged by tenacity somewhat than fun: I WILL play this game, however much it will try to avoid me. Then arrived the deflating realisation that the second year was just more of the same. I thought like the game’s prisoner, grimly returning every few time for more slender gruel.