Back in the heyday of the CD-ROM explosion many games were trying to add Full Motion Video (FMV) to their games as a way to harness this new power. The FMV game experience was short lived and had very mixed results but it is still refreshing to see this modern yet retro feeling take on the genre with Mia and the Dragon Princess.
The game starts with a lightly animated recount of the Dragon Princess ship and it’s all female crew led by Marshanda and Red Kat. The sequence ends alluding to a deadly turn for the ship and crew leading us into the story presented in the game.
Quickly introduced to Marshanda, waking up out of time and her run in with lead character Mia, a down on her luck barmaid looking for adventure the ‘game’ starts with some fairly well produced and acted scenes. Once the movie starts in earnest the light gameplay aspect of Mia and The Dragon Princess is unveiled, choices to key scenarios, much like a choose your own adventure book.
Once a choice is made the timeline veers into the path selected veering the scenes in sometimes subtle and other times dramatic changes. Essentially the point of the game is to watch a few varying takes on how the story could unfold.
Be rude to someone and they may not help you efficiently, take the wrong direction and you get caught quicker by the bad guys. The choices are not radically different, but generally veer towards nice or rude or helping one person rather then another.
I did play through the interactive movie a few times and while it was nice to see some new scenes I did not get any radically different experiences. Things just rolled out differently to generally the same outcomes, in particular a key choice at the end of the game just made a slight dialog and attitude shift in the ending scene instead of a big new reveal.
The core story plays like adult Goonies meets a buddy action flick with mixed results. Some aspects work like the action sequences and colorful characters and others like clunky dialogue and unexplored plot threads fall flat.
Visually the game does look great, there is some solid action sequences and the set pieces were at times surprisingly good. The acting overall was enjoyable with established actors Paul McGann (Doctor Who, Alien 3, Withnail & I), Brian McCardie (Time, Rob Roy) and MyAnna Buring (The Witcher, Ripper Street) joining relative newcomers Dita Tantang (Marshanda) and Noa Bleeker (Mia) to make a pretty believable cast.
My main issue with the game as a whole was how they handled some of the characters and potential choices, some key events were essentially unchangeable and I had wished they could have explored those alternate paths. As well the bartender Eddie (Jon Xue Zhang) was the best and I wish he had more scenes.
As well there were no options to review scenes once played or to continue from a particular section to try new choices, you had to play the whole experience each time you wanted to try something new. This may have detracted from ‘overall playtime’ but would have given players a nice way to watch fun scenes again or try new things quickly.
Overall Mia and the Dragon Princess was an average experience, some cool sequences and acting, but limited replayability due to the lack of scene selection and outcomes not always shifting very dramatically based on the choices. It is however and nice high quality throwback to the FMV genre and can be fun for those looking for a high end visual experience.
Mia and the Dragon Princess is available right now for PC via Steam and Epic Games Store, Mac, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android. We were provided a Steam key for review purposes by the publisher.