iPhone, Android; Jam City/Portkey Games
After drawing in the Potterites with a enchanting start, this game refuses to let you play unless you pay up. It’s dull, dismaying and deeply cynical
There’s about an hour of magic at the beginning of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, when an owl arrives from Dumbledore with a letter bearing your name and you’re whisked off to Diagon Alley to prepare for your wizarding education. Like a lot of smartphone games, Hogwarts Mystery looks a bit basic, but it’s not lazy; it’s colourful and gently humorous. Fan-pleasing touches come in the form of dialogue voiced by actors from the Harry Potter films, cameos from beloved characters and allusions to nuggets of Potter trivia.
The enchantment fades when you get to the first story interlude, where your character becomes tangled up in Devil’s Snare. After a few seconds of furious tapping to free yourself from its clutches, your energy runs out and the game asks you to pay a couple of quid to refill it – or wait an hour or for it to recharge. Sadly, this is absolutely by design.