Game of Phones: Every week I’ll pick a new game for iOS or Android that’s perfect for long journeys, the commute or just when you want to switch off from the outside world.
Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery is one of the first major games based on JK Rowling’s magical world designed specifically for iPhone and Android and it’s a lot of fun.
The game effectively puts you in the role of a new student who’s just got their letter from Hogwarts and is about to embark of three years of magical studies. This is a role-playing game so while there’s no ‘levels’, you instead engage in activities, play small mini-games and converse with your fellow students as you progress through the year.
As such there’s a pretty comprehensive character customisation screen at the beginning of the game that lets you choose everything from eye colour to the shape of your nose.
Once you’ve chosen your character you’ll head to Diagon Alley where you’ll need to buy your textbooks and even choose a wand.
Everything about Hogwarts Mystery is designed to overwhelm you with the nostalgia of the world that JK Rowling created and it does a really good job too.
While it’s made with a cartoonish style this is clearly the world that millions of fans know and love and thanks to the inclusion of Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and more in the roles they played in the films.
Once you’ve been sorted into your House you’ll start to attend lessons while encountering new friends and enemies.
The game is not challenging, instead it’s more about just soaking in the atmosphere and exploring the lore of Hogwarts that’s contained within the game.
This is also not a game for playing in long sessions, and the reason for that is somewhat disappointing. Because it’s free to download, every action in the game uses up ‘energy’, if you run out of this energy you’re either stuck waiting for it to recharge OR you can spend actual money to boost it back up.
I’m not going to pretend the game isn’t centred around making money, it’s not and in many ways it massively impacts on the experience of playing it. I’d much rather pay £5 up front and then not have to wait, but of course that’s not how most mobile games work.
Instead, the best way to play this game is in short bursts, either on the train or bus during a commute or when you’ve got a couple of minutes to spare. That way you’ll never be asked to spend real money and you can still explore the game at will.