Mia And The Dragon Princess PS5 Review. Wales Interactive‘s latest FMV jaunt heads down the action comedy route. Will it land a blow for the FMV-inspired live-action game revival? Or will it be the butt of its own jokes? Find out in PlayStation Universe’s review of Mia and the Dragon Princess.
Mia and the Dragon Princess Review (PS5) – Action Comedy Adventure Doesn’t Quite Connect With Its Punch.
Wales Interactive’s crusade to almost singlehandedly bring the once-defunct FMV genre into the 21st Century is an admirable cause. Deep at the heart of it is an understanding of the shortcomings live-action interactivity brings whilst tapping into the goofy fun of it all; whether that be drama, horror, rom-com, or action.
The production value has certainly edged up since those early efforts, and in Mia and the Dragon Princess, it is perhaps the most apparent it has ever been. A home console live-action blockbuster action comedy with branching interactive choices.
The plot in Mia and the Dragon Princess sees modern-day barmaid Mia stumble into an adventure involving ancient legends, lost treasure, and scraps with a bunch of goons. Doing a lot of the scrapping is Marshanda, a woman seemingly thrust into the present from long in the past. The buddy duo of a beleaguered modern-day waitress and grunting fighting machine out of time does have an air of plot summary by dartboard thought process to it. But it’s a duo that inarguably works well for Mia and the Dragon Princess.
Starting at a quickened pace, Mia and the Dragon Princess thrives on that to be at its best. There’s a delicate balancing act that takes a few knocks thanks to the branching storyline system.
The upside is that it offers some pretty distinct shifts in how the story can be presented, meaning the first playthough could well be very different from the next. The downside is not all playthroughs are equal in playtime and quality.
You can be done in as little as 30 minutes with the right order of decisions, but there’s holes galore left by this truncated trip through the story. Certain narrative pathways also fail to lead anywhere exciting or meaningful. Despite the boast of branching narratives, it’s quite clear that only some branches can handle the weight of their narrative apples.
At least the game itself is entertaining regardless of plot shortcomings and branching narrative snafus. One-time Time Lord Paul McGann gets top billing and makes the most of a fairly brisk scenery-chewing role. The stars of the show are undoubtedly Mia and Marshanda, played by Noa Bleeker and Dita Tantang respectively. Bleeker gives Mia the necessary grounding for an absurdly theatrical caper. While Tantang’s fish-out-of-water badass has the lion’s share of entertaining moments. Their enthusiasm really drags the quality bar upwards. There are fewer cases of the ‘they understood the assignment’ as casually strong as this in this medium.
As ever, a Wales Interactive FMV production is practically swimming in cheese. A veritable fondue lake of it in fact. It’s not just part of the charm, it’s utterly essential. The FMV games that have taken themselves too seriously (a rare breed, but they exist) have tended to suffer for it. Part of why Wales Interactive has found its groove with FMV is because it knows what it can’t be at this stage.
Traditional games will be more likely to have the depth and detail. film will always have higher acting, writing, and production bars than would be available to a relatively humble game publisher. However, fames such as Mia and the Dragon Princess hone in on what works for FMV-style interactive media.
That’s not a knock on what Wales Interactive creates. As I wrote earlier, I think it’s an admirable and genuinely savvy business model. Instead of stretching the flawed but fun model of FMV throwbacks into something it could never be, these games embrace it, which makes them feel honest and respectable in their own right. Go swim in that cheese lake, and dive deep.
Now, that doesn’t excuse Mia and the Dragon Princess from its faults. Even with the notable limitations mentioned, there’s still a ceiling it can reach. On a presentation front, it’s got it right, but structurally it’s far looser than many of its FMV predecessors. Mia and the Dragon Princess has all the tools to be a solid entertaining action comedy romp that’ll while away a few hours. With such a lopsided set of story branches, however, it trips over its own roots.
Mia and the Dragon Princess is out now for PS4 & PS5.