With modern games, realism is everything however one genre takes this to the next level and that is FMV games or Full-Motion games. These video games feature real humans playing out their roles just in a movie and most of the time, these are choice-based games where you must guide the main character through a story of different paths and reach an ending based on the choices that you made in different locations. Wales Interactive is known for creating some really cool FMV video games like their previous release Ten Dates and now, the developer has launched its brand-new title Mia and the Dragon Princess alongside Dead Pixel Productions and it is an FMV as well. This is our review of Mia and the Dragon Princess in which we try to help a lost princess and fight some bad guys along the way.
Mia and the Dragon Princess revolves around the story of Mia, who is working as a bartender at a bar. When the owner of the bar runs into trouble with the local thugs, led by Walsh who wants to take over the bar but when he arrives there, he discovers something that he has been looking for a very long time. Mia is surprised when she finds Marshanda, a mysterious woman who only speaks Indonesian, near a dumpster and takes her in to help her and find out more about her but Walsh is able to discover her, and this leads to a story filled with action and deception where your choices will choose the path for Mia and everyone around her. Mia and the Dragon Princess is a choice-driven game and every choice that you make in the game will lead you to another unique scenario. The game hides away all of the UI and only shows it when you really need it.
There is not much UI in the game, to begin with. On the top-left side of the screen, you will see the only UI of the screen which shows you five attributes for Mia which only appear mere seconds before a choice selection has to appear for you. These attributes include Compassion, Intelligence, Bravery, Responsibility, and Knowledge. As you make different choices in different scenarios, these attributes increase or decrease accordingly however I do not recall any sort of effects of these attributes on the gameplay. There were no blocks for me whatsoever in the game for not having increased a particular attribute as you see in similar games. You will see the attributes increase and decrease in real time but how they affect the gameplay is not very clear in the game. The game has a handy Story Tree menu where you can see different branches of the story leading to different paths based on your choices.
If you want to unlock all of the tiles in the story tree, you will need to play the game again from the start and play it through to the end to unlock additional tiles that you might have missed. You can check out the Story Tree at any time in the game however you cannot start the game mid-story. You can only experience additional paths and unlock the missing tiles by starting a new game. This encourages additional playthroughs and considering the fact that a full playthrough of the game is less than an hour long, you can complete everything in under 10 hours. For additional lore behind the story, the characters, and other aspects of the game, there is a separate section of Audio Tour where you can unlock and listen to different Audio Stops which will fill you in on the background of everything in the game.
Since Mia and the Dragon Princess is an FMV, this puts a huge responsibility on the cast as well and while we have some really noteworthy actors in the list, I personally think that the developer was unable to really take advantage of them. The game’s main villain is played by none other than English actor Paul McGann and while Paul has plenty of scenes, another great actor MyAnna Buring is just under-utilized in the game with only a few scenes where she is seen on the screen and her role is really sidelined as well. Apart from that, Noa Bleeker who plays Mia and is the lead character of the game, did a great job in both acting and the fighting scenes. She is perhaps the only character who looks like a properly played role with the rest of the characters just putting half-of-days’ worth of effort into their roles.
The actors do seem to fit in their roles pretty well as Paul McGann looks like a villain and Dita Tantang did an amazing job as well. Some of her scenes are really funny to watch like the one where she eats a chocolate for the first time and gets hooked on it. The sequences are pretty decent, and they are very well put together and they feel like a proper movie. The fight sequences and hand-to-hand combat scenes are plenty if you consider all of the paths in the game and I loved the audio delivery as well. It is one of the things about the game that keeps you glued to the screen. The overall synergy of the actors does appear to be good on-screen, and the writing of the game is pretty decent as well.
While overall Mia and the Dragon Princess actually feels like the movie and the scene transitions are pretty smooth, there are a few places where the game takes a little time to consider your decision and then move to the next sequence. In certain sequences, the transition is pretty abrupt as well and the scene changes suddenly which gives you the impression that it was cut. It is not very visible in nearly all of the game but in certain instances, I was able to clearly see that the game took a little time to see which option I chose and there was a slight lag in it displaying the next scene. It might be because the game was loading the next scene but having been installed on an NVMe SSD, this should not have been the case. A few of the scene changes were cut abruptly as well. Apart from a few instances however, the game actually feels like a movie and until the UI pops up before a choice that you have to make, you do not even think that it is a game.
To be honest, I was expecting a lot more action from Mia and the Dragon Princess and I am just sad that all of the cool scenes in the game were animated 2D and 3D scenes and the live-action sequences were only around a bar and inside it. This was a little disappointing to see because I would have loved to see the introduction of the game being included as a live-action plays scene as well where we fight on a boat and a Kraken devastates everything around us. It would have really taken the game to the next level. Still, it is a pretty interesting video game and makes you wonder about the future of the video game industry because it just delivers another level of immersion in video games. Kudos to Wales Interactive and Dead Pixel Productions.
Mia and the Dragon Princess is a fun game and it is great to see movies and video games merging together like this however we will need to wait until a proper AAA studio jumps into this genre to see a really flashy FMV game. While Mia and the Dragon Princess is a great example of what can be achieved in the genre, it still leaves you wanting for more at the end since it is really small in length and unfortunately, there is not much going on in the game during its entirety. The short length combined with the mediocre cast leads to a title that is enjoyable for a few hours, but you might get bored exploring all of the endings. It is still a great achievement by Wales Interactive and it seems like the studio is improving in terms of quality with every release however it is still a little far from that wow factor. If you love FMVs and have been playing past releases from Wales Interactive, you can definitely try out Mia and the Dragon Princess.
Final Score: 7.5/10