Wales Interactive is making a name for itself with a stream of live action videogames. Building on the success of titles such as Late Shift and Five Dates, the recent Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? was a thoroughly enjoyable whodunnit. In this review, we’ll discuss Mia and the Dragon Princess, the latest title from Wales Interactive, and see if it can live up to the growing expectations.
Mia and the Dragon Princess differs from the aforementioned titles from the offset. Perhaps due to the success of previous games, the production values have been upped significantly. We begin with an animated sequence that sets the scene. Telling a tale of pirates, friendship and revenge on the high seas. Suddenly, a dramatic shift to live action sees a women in a hospital gown running down Leake Street in London, pursued by an unknown assailant. Another quick change of pace and we meet Mia for the first time.
Mia isn’t particularly happy with her life. She’s broke, and working a dead end job in a bar. Suddenly, a bunch of statistic bars appear on-screen with no information about what they represent. Nor is it ever explained exactly what they’re for (we can only assume they affect the ending you unlock, of which there are several). And you’re given your first choice to make. Are you going to clean the gents toilet?
These are the kind of simple introductory questions you’re given as the game builds its premise. Will you help the woman, or turn her into the police? Present yourself as kind, or assertive? However, it’s not long until the possible outcomes of your decisions can affect the game in meaningful ways.
A ‘story tree’ exists in the game, living on the pause menu to show you where your decisions could’ve branched off into a different narrative. Once you’ve completed the game it’s possible to go back and choose different options. This allows you to watch the remaining scenes. Oddly however, you can’t skip scenes you’ve already watched (even more oddly, with the exception of the animated scenes).
Mia and the Dragon Princess is well presented. The game moves at a slower pace than Late Shift, but with a story that runs deeper. The characters are very one dimensional, even if the acting is of a decent calibre throughout. Oddly, some vital information can be missed (the most prominent example being the keys on the wristband) unless you play in a certain order. Going back and replaying differently will fill you in, but it’s not an ideal solution given that key story beats can appear seemingly at random.
Thusly, Mia and the Dragon Princess is a mixed bag. It proves that the formula Wales Interactive have championed can work with bigger, more elaborate story lines. Yet, at the same time, doing so brings new challenges. As should be evident in this review, if you’re a fan of previous FMV titles Mia and the Dragon Princess shouldn’t be missed. But if it’s your first jump into the genre, there are better options out there.