Niantic the game developers behind the excellent Ingress and the smash hit pokemon Go have been at it again with their specialist AR (augmented reality) games and this time bring us a Harry Potter themed game, Wizard’s Unite.
augmented reality is where a game cleverly combines the real world with overlayed images. This is usually done via your smartphone’s camera. Many believed that this would be the future of gaming, though few titles have used the technology well. Does this Harry Potter game manage it though?
We are off to see the Wizard
The game benefits from its high profile IP and this will make it an instant favourite for fans of the Harry Potter franchise. It contains all of the best characters from the films/books, lovingly brought to life.
The game has a surprising focus on story and in this sense, it is superior to Pokemon Go. (Yes we will make comparisons, but once you start the game you will see why. It’s not like it is just Pokemon Go with a Harry Potter Skin, but there are a lot of similarities.) Seeing all these characters in the game is great and really adds to the game, rather than just being an addictive collecting type game this game’s strong focus on story serves it well.
The Gameplay focuses mainly on travelling through the real world doing spells to collect things that have gone missing. You also create potions and battle other wizards and collect and manage pets, a cool nod to the Fantastic Beasts series. This is all driven by an XP system that is powered by daily tasks and a cool story.
The game is a bit less cartoony then it’s pokemon predecessor as you might expect. The likenesses for the characters tend to be well designed but lack in the animation department, which detracts a little from the AR effect. Otherwise, the menus are slick and polished and feel like a premium mobile title.
This is surprisingly good for a mobile title. It has a Harry Potter-style score and a host of voice actors. Although their acting isn’t the greatest in the world at least it is there and that’s rare on a mobile game. The guy doing the voice of Harry Potter doesn’t do a bad imitation of Daniel Radcliffe, either. I’m assuming it’s not him.
From one perspective it will have the potential there. You only have to take a look at Pokemon Go and see the type of traction that that particular title had. This game has a potentially bigger IP behind it and is a far more refined version of the game mechanics. The wizarding battles offer a competitive element but I’m not really sure that this side of the game is robust enough to make an eSport. This is a shame in a way. An eSport based on an AR game could be massive and hugely entertaining for spectators.
Worth a download?
If you are a fan of Harry Potter or sunk a lot of time into Pokemon go then this game is potentially going to take up a lot of your time. Given the nature of it, the graphics and the use of AR the game does eat through the battery pretty quickly. Consequently it will leave even newer smartphones running a little on the toasty side. Anyone who games on their mobile will be used to this unfortunate side effect though.
I downloaded it just to check it out and have yet to delete it from my phone, which says a lot about it, if you’re on the fence, give it try. As free games go it has one of the least intrusive business models which means you won’t be bombarded by adds or held back if you don’t make IAP’s (in-App purchases).