‘Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery’ will be available later this spring on iOS and Android.
Hollywood franchises in the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have a rapidly decaying shelf life. Star Wars rested for ten years before Disney reignited it; Batman escaped from the spotlight for only four years before being pressed back into service. When Harry Potter left the stage in 2011, he did so with a degree of finality. Posters shouted “IT ALL ENDS” and magazine retrospectives looked back at ten years of adorable children growing into talented adults. Seven years later, it’s as if he never left.
The newest addition to the Wizarding World is a mobile roleplaying game that will allow players to explore the Hogwarts of the 1980s when hair was big and the Order of the Phoenix was young. ‘Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery’ gives players the opportunity to create their own personalized Hogwarts student, cast spells, explore the castle, and attend classes. The first trailer looks charming enough, lo-fi mobile graphics and all, but it also looks flagrantly unnecessary.
Part of the charm of the original Harry Potter books and films was how childishly undercooked the Wizarding World was. Owls delivering mail? Sure. The system of currency is Roald Dahl-esque claptrap? Makes sense. There were glimpses of a world outside of Hogwarts, but for the purposes of the story being told, those glimpses didn’t matter. The mystery of how all of this magic hung together sustained the narrative without any overcooked explanations.
If the early days of Potter recalled the classically murky magic of the original Star Wars films, then the morass of over-explanation the franchise has now fallen into can only be compared to MidichlorianGate. For years, Rowling threatened to write an encyclopedia of Potter arcanum and minutiae. Ultimately, she relegated that trove of unnecessary information to the Pottermore website, where no one will ever read it anyway. The five Fantastic Beasts films, or the threat of them, have promised to explore the expanding global Wizarding World. This week, director David Yates announced with great fanfare a new silly French word for “people who can’t use magic.” Wasn’t “muggle” enough? Do we need five prequels telling a story we already knew? Do we need Cursed Child, the epilogue that adds extra fat to a completed saga? When Harry Potter ended, it was a seminal pop culture moment. Now that ending lacks any kind of weight whatsoever.
You can pre-register for ‘Hogwarts Mystery’ at this link.