There’s about one hour of magic at the start of Hogwarts Mystery Hack, when an owl will come from Dumbledore with a letter bearing your name and you’re whisked off to Diagon Alley to prepare for your wizarding education. Like a whole lot of smartphone video games, Hogwarts Mystery Hack looks a lttle bit basic, but it’s not lazy; it’s colourful and smoothly humorous. Fan-pleasing touches come by means of dialogue voiced by celebrities from the Harry Potter movies, cameos from precious heroes and allusions to nuggets of Potter trivia.
The enchantment fades when you get to the first storyline interlude, where your character becomes tangled up in Devil’s Snare. After a few seconds of furious tapping to free yourself from its handbags, your energy runs out and the game asks one to pay several quid to fill up it – or hold out one hour or for it to recharge. Sadly, this is completely by design.
From this point onwards Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery Hack does everything it can to avoid you from playing it. You should not get through even a single class without having to be interrupted. An average lesson now requires 90 moments of tapping, followed by one hour of ready (or a purchase), then another 90 secs of tapping. An outlay of ?2 every 90 mere seconds is not really a realistic ask. Between story missions the wait times are even more egregious: three hours, even eight time. Hogwarts Mystery pulls the old trick of hiding the true cost of its purchases behind an in-game “gem” money, but I exercised that you’d have to invest about ?10 each day merely to play Hogwarts Mystery for 20 consecutive minutes. The interruptions prevent you from creating any sort of connection to your fellow students, or to the mystery in the centre of the storyline. It really is like trying to learn a e book that asks for money every 10 pages and slams shut on your fingertips if you refuse.
Without the Harry Potter trappings the overall game would have nothing to recommend it. The lessons quickly become lifeless and the writing is disappointingly bland, though it can try with persona dialogue. Duelling other students and casting spells are fun, but almost all of the time you’re just tapping. Aside from answering the unusual Potter-themed question in course, you never have to engage your brain. The waits would become more bearable if there is something to do for the time being, like discovering the castle or talking to other students. But there is certainly nothing at all to find at Hogwarts, no activity that doesn’t require yet more energy.
Harry Potter is a powerful enough dream to override all those things, at least for some time. The existence of Snape, Flitwick or McGonagall is merely enough to keep you tapping through uneventful classes and clear work has truly gone into recreating the appearance, audio and feel of the school and its character types. But by enough time I got eventually to the finish of the first season I was motivated by tenacity alternatively than excitement: I’LL play this game, however much it will try to stop me. Then arrived the deflating realisation that the next year was just more of the same. I felt like the game’s prisoner, grimly returning every few hours for more skinny gruel.