Adventures in Pottermore, Part III: Ten Points to Ravenclaw
“If a trivial mistake messes up my Cure for Warts one more time, I’m going to throw down my laptop, find the nearest pharmacy, and just buy some of that acid stuff my parents used to use when we were kids and got them on our feet. Where am I supposed to find my wand, anyway… Oh, there it is. Who the hell buried behind all this other stuff on the counter? Alright… Wait, what the hell do you mean, I got it wrong? That was perfect, Snape. You’re just envious because I’m the Chosen One and you never got with my mom…”
-Me, during the Potions tutorial
It’s been a while since my last update about Pottermore, mostly because it’s been a while since I last got to spend time with Pottermore. I’ve completed the Philosopher’s Stone sequence, and since doing so, I haven’t felt any great draw to continue.
Admittedly, I’ve had some fun with the site. After being assigned to Ravenclaw, I became acquainted with its potion-making and spell-casting minigames. They provided some passing entertainment, as did searching for collectible items in the story moments. But overall, after exploring a full novel’s worth of content, I’ve come away with the impression that Pottermore isn’t entirely sure what it wants to do, and as a result, it spends most of its (and its users’) time half-doing things.
I’m sure the site is set up this way to avoid impeding progress for people who just want to explore the story, the Pottermore’s various game elements never gel successfully with the story or each other. Gameplay features are generally introduced once before being relegated to their own corners of the site; after the tutorials the Spells and Potions mechanics were not used in the Philosopher’s Stone again. Even the exploration can barely be referred to as such. The setup of the Moments suggests the possibility of a point-and-click adventure game a la Myst, complete with puzzles to solve and environments that can be seamlessly explored. But Pottermore is not the kind of game, if it can be called a game at all.
And to be honest, after all the time of spent on the site, I don’t know what it’s trying to be. All the behind-the-scenes description and other exclusive pieces of writing are interesting in themselves, but if I really just wanted to read them, I’d prefer a more to-the-point interface than this. And if it was supposed to be an actual game, it needs to decide what kind of game. I’d be cool with a Myst-type adventure game like the kind the Moments are suggesting, and equally cool with the kind of MMORPG that seems to inspire Diagon Alley and the Potions mechanic.
I’ll probably keep up with Pottermore for a bit longer to see if there’s something I’m missing, and I do like reading the bonus content. But for a really immersive experience of the series’ world, returning to the novels and films is probably a better bet. And for those really stuck on finding a good interactive version of Hogwarts, this game might be the closest you’re going to get.