When it comes to Harry Potter, it's theoretically impossible to make a product so bad that the entire fandom wants you dead -- or at the very least, wants to jab a stick in your ribs and cry-scream "avada kedavra." The new mobile game Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is proof that this theory is incorrect. With its boring plot, total disregard for the canon, and awful mechanics, it's the worst game in Harry Potter history, and that's already a pretty low bar.
First off, there are microtransactions, which aren't merely bad on their own -- they're bad for microtransactions. Your main stat in the game is "energy," which players expend performing activities such as travelling, studying (fun!), and dueling. As most activities require multiple energy points and it takes four minutes to manually recharge one energy point, the game is a rage-inducing nightmare, much like Goblet Of Fire. But on the plus side, this system also gives us one of the darkest moments in video game history.
Early in the game, your character gets trapped in a Devil's Snare, a deadly vine that probably forms the basis of at least five hardcore fetishes in the magical world. The plant starts to strangle you, and your only hope of escape is to summon all of your energy and bust your way ou- aaand your energy just ran out.
If you don't want to buy more energy, you're then forced to watch your wizard child be slowly strangled for 20 minutes -- their eyes bulging from the immense pressure around their throat -- until your energy can recharge enough. If you go into the encounter with a maxed-out energy bar, it still runs out. You have no choice except whether to pay now or 15 minutes later, after the image has been seared into your eyeballs and/or your own children are near-fainting from hysteria. It's so brutal that we're not entirely sure whether the developers intended this as a real challenge or a subtle commentary on how exploitative, money-grubbing business practices like microtransactions are slowly choking out the video game industry.
But if you're a fan of the books, don't fear! There's another game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, coming later this year. It's made by the developers responsible for Pokemon Go, so you know it'll be good after they finally get the servers working. Which is worse, 20 minutes of strangulation or six months of loading screens? It's hard to say.
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