What is it about pirates that makes us fall in love with them? Is it the freedom of the waves and the adventure? Or the hidden treasure, where X marks the spot? Is it the fashion, the parrot on the shoulder and the “arrrrr” before any sentence?
Games love pirates as well, with Sea of Thieves still going strong and Skull & Bones arriving at some point. But has there ever been a game featuring a time-traveling pirate? Not that we can think of. But Mia and the Dragon Princess not only features that, but just so happens to be the latest FMV game from the prolific Wales Interactive. Let’s walk the plank.
Wales Interactive have pretty much reinvented the FMV market in the last few years, inspiring other companies to pop up with brilliant efforts of their own. Most recently with the likes of Not for Broadcast and Murderous Muses, the genre has experimented a bit more with gameplay rather than working through binary choices. So how do Mia and the Dragon Princess follow on from that?
In terms of story and ambition, it certainly puts on a great show here. Starting with a fantastic piece of animation, the game tells a tale of the Dragon Princess and a band of other pirates in times gone by. We are then transported into the real world, where we meet Mia – a down-on-her-luck waitress in a seedy underground bar in London town. The Dragon Princess runs into a bit of trouble, before bumping into Mia who takes her under her wing. Soon we are then introduced to the inhabitants of the bar and the evil henchman who wants to find the mysterious lady under Mia’s care…
The story certainly keeps you on your toes; it is exciting and dynamic. The characters are fun and exhilarating as well, pretty much across the board from the main role of Mia to the members of a hen do who happen to be in the bar when things kick off. The game also stars Paul McGann as the villain, along with a fascinating turn from MyAnna Buring from The Witcher series. It’s not just a static talking drama either, as there is a massive fight scene choreographed by martial artists and action sequences who have worked on DC and Marvel movies.
The gameplay hasn’t moved on that much in terms of what you get to do. The action focuses on making timed choices about what to do next, and how those choices affect the outcome of the story and characters. Mia and the Dragon Princess begs for you to take in multiple playthroughs to unlock more of the intriguing story, with some conclusions reached in around an hour. That said, there are a few moments where you might make a strange choice which results in Mia dying, but the good thing is that it takes you back to that moment without having to start again from the beginning. The problem – as highlighted in the opening – is that it doesn’t really experiment with the format as some other games have done recently.
The performances are excellent and they embellish the characters, having fun with the material and not taking themselves too seriously. The menus and UI are clean, whilst the production values are good with some nice effects. It does feel a bit limiting at times with just the underground bar setting the scene for the majority of the time, but the animation sequences help with that problem by making the world a little bit bigger.
The soundtrack is good and does a brilliant job in supporting the action sequences. There is a nice little bonus provided too; an audio tour from one of the characters in the game which unlocks different chapters the more of the game you play.
The story and over-the-top action are what makes Mia and the Dragon Princess the fun thriller of a game that it is. But it’s also a game that will ensure you want to unlock all the story outcomes, and the shorter running time aids this achievement as well. However, the gameplay doesn’t move anything on too much and it could do with some more tricks up its sleeve; much like some competitors have tried.
For the most part though, you’ll enjoy spending some time with the pirates of Mia and the Dragon Princess, as it adds a new chapter to the swashbuckling legacy.