By Scott Schweinfurth

Name of game: Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
Name of creator: Niantic
Type of game: Adventure
Level of difficulty: 3
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 hands.

THE WIZARDING WORLD IS AT RISK OF EXPOSURE

Please resist the urge to panic. Traces of magic are appearing across the Muggle world without warning and in a rather chaotic manner. We worry it is only a matter of time before even the most incurious Muggles catch wind of it. We call on all witches and wizards to help contain the Calamity or risk the worst of times since You Know Who. Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist immediately.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is a mobile game. In it, a terrible spell is known as “The Calamity” is taking objects and memories from the wizarding world and placing them out in the open for any muggle to come by and see. Your task, as a member of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, is to get out there, remove the magic protecting these items and send them back where they belong.

As a member of the task force, you will walk around viewing an area map where suddenly these magic items will appear. When you see them, just tap on the item on your phone and it will open up the spell screen. There, you will need to trace the spell listed on your screen in an effort to counteract the magic holding the item. You might need to cast a water spell (aguamenti) to counteract magic fire, an unlocking spell (alohomora) to free someone or something from shackles, or a protection spell (expecto patronum) to save someone from a dementor. Once you have saved these things, they return to where they belong, shown in the game by placing a stamp into a tableau. You are given daily tasks to accomplish as well as story tasks to advance the plot and try and discover who is doing this and why.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was developed by Niantic, the company that gave us Pokemon Go. If you’ve played that game, a lot of Wizards Unite will feel very familiar. I often found myself learning about the game and immediately calling the new function by its name in Pokemon Go. There are, of course, differences (outside of the theme) but if you’ve played Pokemon Go before, you’ll be able to slide right into playing this.

If I had a complaint about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite it would be the storytelling. A few days after the game was released I was standing with a friend who also played, and we both confessed we just didn’t know why we were doing whatever it was that we were doing. After playing for a week, I have a better idea, but it really didn’t start coming to me until I started completing the Statute of Secrecy quests. To make matters worse, you will on occasion find story items during your course of returning the items that come with some story about the characters involved. However, since I didn’t really know who they were and what their role in everything was, this ultimately just added to my confusion. I will again say that I think I have a much better idea of what’s happening now, but in the beginning, I feel like I was given the information out of order.

Overall, I’m enjoying Harry Potter: Wizards unite. They just started a special event where we need to help Hagrid return some of the animals from the Forbidden Forrest that the calamity has taken, so I’m off to save the wizarding world.