A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
HARRY POTTER: HOGWARTS MYSTERY promises Harry Potter fans the chance to fulfill their long-held dreams of attending Hogwarts School. Set during the time when the legendary Harry Potter is still just a baby, it turns players into Potter-like heroes. Starting school in the shadow of a rebellious older brother who was expelled for bad behavior, gamers get sorted into a house and strive for good grades, all while dealing with rampant rumors, skeptical teachers, and bullying classmates. Players attend classes, learning all the iconic wizarding skills (potion-mixing, dueling, charms, etc.) and earn House points by building up their skills in three important areas: Courage, Empathy, and Knowledge. All actions, including attending classes and completing story missions, require the use of a limited energy store and two forms of in-app currency.
Is it any good?
This app based on one of the most popular franchises out there is bound to be divisive, especially among parents and kids, because of its gated play and money demands. Kids will enjoy Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery because of its faithfulness to the wizarding world, but parents are bound to resent the game's money-grubbing setup. It starts really well, and it's bound to excite fans by showing them iconic locations in Diagon Alley. It gets even better as you get to Hogwarts, get sorted into your House, and start seeing all your favorite Hogwarts people and locations. Then your first class starts, and abracadabra! The fun's over.
Activities like going to class require tapping on things a set number of times, and each tap requires energy. Your piddly little energy supply gets used up in seconds, and you're stuck with the bane of every freemium game: the energy timer. Given the advent of better models like "ads for energy," it's surprising that developer Jam City would employ such a blatant money-grabbing model, but alas, they have. The result is a disappointing tease of a game that lets you play for mere moments, then passes 'round the Sorting Hat, expecting you to throw money into it. Worse yet, it throttles the fun again by locking most of the locations and making you wait hours before the story can progress. There's a way around those things, of course: spending yet more money. The app's makers really made a mistake in going with the purchase-heavy energy model, which is a shame, because they've made a charmingly faithful depiction of the wizarding world. But Harry Potter fans won't get to see it unless they know how to conjure up a big pile of cash.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about consumerism and marketing. How much do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on one app, even a wildly popular one like Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery?
Talk about bullying. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery features some bullies that interact with your created wizards. But since you don't have magic in real life, what's the best way to deal with bullies?
Talk about screen time: This game requires you to wait between gameplay sessions. Is this the best way to enforce gaming session breaks?
For kids who love Harry Potter
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.