Finally, an upside to the unending Metro Manila traffic!
Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is here and free to play, making up for the depressing Harry Potter game last year that everyone wants to forget about. Developed by Niantic, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite plays very much like Pokemon GO, except there’s magical creatures and objects instead of Pokemon, and there are fortresses and inns instead of gyms.
Off the bat, it’s a pretty decent AR game that demands grind through walking—literally. You start off by creating your wizard profile, designing a semi-decent wizard photo, and choosing your house and wand (although they dispensed with all the sorting and wand choosing bits, things you should head to Pottermore to do).
The real game starts when you start going out of the house and walking around to look for Foundables that you try to free from Confoundables using a swish of your wand. The wand mechanics can be a bit tricky at first, but you get better as you go. Keep in mind that the speed and accuracy of your wand-flicking (a la Hermione’s swish-and-flick) determines the chances of you freeing up the Foundable.
There are also many extras and mini-games inside the game that can help you catch Foundables better and level up, all of which are made to feel like a real Harry Potter game. There’s potion brewing from ingredients you get to pick up on the road, Portkey Portmanteaus that open as you walk around (think hatching Pokemon eggs), gardening, a specialized profession with its own skill tree that you can level up (you can choose between professor, auror, and magizoologist), and a wizarding challenge when you encounter a fortress (you’d find it amusing that churches are usually marked as fortresses), where you get to battle and vanquish foes for rewards.
Is Harry Potter: Wizards Unite a game worth downloading and playing? Speaking as a fan of both Harry Potter and Pokemon, I’d say more so than Pokemon GO! There’s so many things Niantic has learned from Pokemon GO, that they are bringing and elevating here in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. In fact, the map is a tad bit more action-filled, with departmental letters and owls flying overboard, and inns oozing smoke from their chimneys. If you’re moving quite fast and in a car, you’d even find your witch flying on a broomstick instead of walking!
And did we say we’d like to play this game in traffic? Yup, that’s right. Walking around in this heat or rain is crazy, especially when the landmarks can be quite far from each other. Frankly, it’s best to play as a passenger on a car slowly traveling EDSA, so you have time to click on inns and greenhouses to collect prizes, and free Foundables when traffic gets particularly jammed.
As a Harry Potter fan, there are tons to enjoy in this new AR game. There’s cameo from beloved Harry Potter characters like Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, both now working for the ministry and helping you solve the mystery of the Calamity—the new central conflict that has arisen and threatens to expose the wizarding world.
The game also has a pretty interesting storyline that gives body to the overall grind, and encourages you to find more stuff and level up to know more. And the voice impersonation of familiar characters is pretty convincing, too, that I actually thought they signed Daniel Radcliffe to read the parts!
And did we forget to mention the graphics? Oh it’s so much better than we expected! There’s whimsical variation to the challenges, from freeing an Erumpent via Alohomora and casting Ebublio on a man trying to bother Bellatrix Lestrange’s painting to freeing a Hufflepuff student trapped in ice with Incendio. The animation is very fun to watch, and it makes you look forward to what kind of Foundable you’ll be freeing next.
Granted that it’s just the first few days since Harry Potter: Wizards Unite launched worldwide that’s why you can still expect a few bugs and black screen in the middle of gameplay, especially when you have poor internet connection. But we’re excited to see what kinds of events and new stuff they’ll be adding soon, which we’re sure will bring so many Harry Potter lovers back to the fandom.
Read our full review of the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game in Speed Magazine soon.
Review by Jovi Figueroa