Wizard-themed life sim boasts hundreds of hours of gameplay.

Ever since Harry Potter first entered the cultural consciousness, there have been more than a few people who have imagined just what it might be like to actually go to a wizarding school like Hogwarts. And with Academagia, now they finally have that chance. While the game moves slowly and features an almost overwhelming amount of content, if you give it the time, it will absolutely absorb you.

You play as a young wizard on their first day at the world renowned Academy of Magic. To start, you’re given a host of options on how you want to create your character. Everything from family history to astrological sign to magical aptitude to intelligence. Suffice to say there’s a lot. But while it might seem a little daunting, this actually gives you a great deal of freedom to create exactly the character you want. Whether you decide to play as a bully or a bookworm, it’s completely up to you.

 The Making of Mages

But creating your character is only the first step. Once you enter the world of the Academy, your choices will further affect just how your character progresses. Academagia is a combination of a simulation and a role-playing game, and the experience consists almost entirely of menus. You’ll tackle things day by day, selecting from a wide range of activities. Each day consists of three different periods — morning, afternoon, and evening — and it’s up to you what you do with that time. Of course, during the day you’re supposed to be going to class, but you always have the option to skip if you’d rather go exploring or hang out with some friends. At the end of each day you’re presented with a rundown of exactly what happened, telling you everything from the lessons you learned to the new skills you acquired.

There’s an overwhelming amount of choice in the game. There are so many different things you can choose from that it’s impossible to do everything. From making friends and learning magic, to studying and going on adventures. At first it’s very difficult to settle on a decision, but slowly you’ll learn what’s most important and what exactly your character needs to do.

Most days some sort of event will occur that will prompt you to make a decision. It can range from the mundane (like ripping a hole in your robe) to the slightly more exciting (like being confronted by an angry magical bush), but the outcome always depends on how you’ve developed your character. If you’ve worked on your sneaking skills you just might be able break in to the library, but if not, you’ll probably be spotted and given detention. There are also special adventure missions that you can take on, which will often task you with making several different decisions. These help move the story along so there’s no penalty for failure. Instead, if you do fail, you can simply spend some time working on whatever particular skill or ability it is you’re lacking and try again later.

 The Making of Mages

What’s great about the events is their unpredictability. The outcome is rarely what you’d expect, for both good and bad. For instance, at one point I made the decision to hang around after class and wait for my teacher to return. He’d been looking bothered all day so I wanted to see what was wrong. Unfortunately, I ended up falling asleep, missing my next class, and getting thrown in detention. No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose.

Aside from the sheer breadth of content and choices, the other aspect of Academagia that might turn off some players is its pace. Things move slowly. Very, very slowly. Whether it’s trying to make a friend or learn some new spells, everything that’s worth doing in the game takes a lot of time. Conversely, just like in real life, time often has a way of creeping up on you. Before you know it it’s time for exams and if you didn’t keep up with studying, well, get ready to flunk. There’s never enough time to do everything so juggling the numerous tasks is a very demanding job. Where’s a time turner when you need it!

But while the slow pace and insane amount of depth may turn off some, they’re also what make Academagia so engaging. It’s so easy to lose hours of your life tinkering with your character, trying to complete quests or explore the Academy or catch up on botany lessons. It’s the kind of game that’s aimed at a very specific niche of people, and for them, it’s perfect. Academagia allows you to enter an extraordinarily well thought out world of fantasy and be whoever you want to be. It’s the next best thing to catching the train at platform 9 and 3/4.