I suppose it possibly reveals more about my age than I care to contemplate, but I’ve been a fan of Paul McGann since the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie. Needless to say, I was very excited to see him credited for Mia and the Dragon Princess. I was even more excited to see that it is a visual novel and that MyAnna Buring from The Witcher series is in it. I was thrilled to see this game show up on my radar.
Needless to say, I had high expectations, but what I actually got was a bit of a mixed bag. The title is beautifully shot, but the story doesn’t always quite live up to the fight scenes. If you ever hoped for a made for TV movie with excellent martial arts fight scenes, Mia and the Dragon Princess may be for you.
You quickly learn that the eponymous Mia is a bartender working at an infamous pirate bar who encounters Marshanda (Dita Tantang) whose convenient inability to speak English sets the story. Given that Mia and the Dragon Princess is a visual novel, the story is the point, so I’m not going to delve too deeply into spoiler territory. That said, Mia and Marshanda become embroiled in a campy tale that includes pirates, incredible action sequences, and some farfetched adventures as they search for mysterious treasures and the answers to Marshanda’s past.
The first thing I really noticed about this Wales Interactive title is that the choreography is impressive, and even the actual game elements don’t interrupt the action. Yes, menus appear, requiring you to make choices, but honestly, these pop-ups feel as though they enhance the experience rather than detracting from it. If you enjoyed Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim, then you’ll understand what I mean here.
Mia and the Dragon Princess also offers a branching story, so you can have vastly different experiences based on the choices you have Mia make, giving the game an unusually deep replayability. However, that’s where things begin to break down a bit. You almost have to engage in multiple play-throughs in order for the story to make any sort of sense. Depending on the choices you make, you can finish the title in just under an hour, resulting in a somewhat confusing mess in which you manage to skip over key moments.
By starting Mia and the Dragon Princess over again, it allows you to unlock more of the story resulting in a much more enjoyable experience.
While I certainly understand that some endings will be better or worse depending on the player’s decisions, I do think that each branch of the experience should be able to stand on its own and provide a satisfying experience. The game also tends to punish choices it deems bad ones to the extent that characters will actually observe to Mia that she should have done something else or made a different choice.
Now, okay, I get it. The end result the title is going for is to tell an interesting and enjoyable story about pirates, secret passages, and cannons, so a nudge toward a particular option here and there isn’t necessarily a problem. However, Mia and the Dragon Princess seems to prefer a mallet over a nudge, and that starts to grate after a while.
However, as far as the entire game goes, Mia and the Dragon Princess is overall a great way to spend an afternoon, and if you’re particularly dedicated, you can extend that out pretty far given that there are ten different outcomes. If you’re interested in visual novels with great action sequences and campy adventure, you should give Mia and the Dragon Princess a try. At a reasonable price of $12.99 on Steam, what do you have to lose?
Stray Thoughts From Behind the Keyboard
- I’m a little in love with McGann’s insane wardrobe in Mia and the Dragon Princess.
- Marcus Shakesheff did the action design, and it’s a thing of beauty.
- Dita Tantang is just incredible to watch.
- Y’all, there are cannons. Need I say more?
Developers: Dead Pixel Productions, Good Gate Media, Wales Interactive
Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Steam, Xbox Series X