Hogwarts fans await their letters

Giancarlo Lizzaraga, Columnist

The long-awaited Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery application is finally released and fans of J.K. Rowling’s magical franchise, including myself, are ecstatic.

Hogwarts Mystery is a role-playing game set in the famous wizarding school of Hogwarts a few years before the series’s titular character, Harry Potter, ever arrived. Players play as a student of the school, completing various tasks that involve brewing potions, learning new spells and developing relationships with other characters.

Some familiar faces from the original series are included, such as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, Professor Minerva Mcgonagall and Professor Flitwick, and are voiced by the same actors who played them in the movies: Sir Michael Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith and Warwick Davis respectively.

Interestingly, the game is not written by J.K. Rowling; however, it is a much more faithful and welcomed entry to the Harry Potter franchise than her recent venture “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

“Cursed Child” opened on Broadway on April 22 to mostly positive reviews. The story takes place immediately after the seventh Harry Potter book, with adult Harry, Hermione and Ron dropping their kids off at the Hogwarts Express.

Hogwarts Mystery, as well as the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” distances itself from the books by using a plot not directly connected to its main characters and events.

It is important for role-playing games to be independent from their source material so that players don’t feel restricted in their choices, but I expect plays such as “Cursed Child” — where there is no audience interaction — to be clear and concise with their story.

Where “Cursed Child” falls flat for me is in how loosy-goosy it is with the already-established canon.

Spoilers ahead: a major plot device in “Cursed Child” is the time-turner, which was featured heavily in the third installment of the Harry Potter series. Although it is an intriguing object that allows its user to travel back in time, putting it to use in “Cursed Child” makes the story convoluted and is highly reminiscent of its earlier uses in the books.

Hogwarts Mystery introduces the new and intriguing Cursed Vaults as its main plot device. It is exciting to gradually learn more and more about this new aspect of Hogwarts and how it ties into the storyline.

Still, the mobile game isn’t perfect. In terms of gameplay, there is definitely room for improvement. Although free to play, it does have microtransactions and event timers that may turn away players.

However, I’ve found that the wait times are less of a nuisance than in other games on the market because they help to slow down the pacing of the story.

I highly encourage Harry Potter fans to try out Hogwarts Mystery for themselves, as I bet many people have fantasized about going to school at Hogwarts and they won’t be disappointed when their letter arrives.