Mia And The Dragon Princess PS4 Review – Thumbs Up At The Bar?

Pirates, martial arts, booby traps? Mia and the Dragon Princess has all this, and life-like graphics (they're real people, innit?).

Mia and the Dragon Princess sounds like one of the storybooks that grace my daughter’s bookshelf or a 16-bit homage to a 90s platformer. Instead, it’s an FMV from Wales Interactive, and you can get it for your system of choice from today.

I’ve wanted to play a Wales Interactive game for a while but have never been on the guest list. Fortunately, some delightful contacts provided me with a review code for the PS4, and I must state that I nearly filled my pants. Alas, the game wasn’t what I had expected. Come to think of it, what was I expecting?

Mia and the Dragon Princess is an interactive movie. Anyone with history might recall the games from the MegaCD or the ill-fated Philips CDi, where you could play the characters in a real-life story. What the what!?! That’s the same here – the graphics are life-like.

Mia and the Dragon Princess PS4 Review - Gamer
Gamer. Source: PR

Mia and the Dragon Princess PS4 Review

At the start of the game, we’re provided with an animatic that introduces a princess who had it all but squandered it for an adventure, befriending a pirate queen who takes her under her wing. After being chased by the law and fellow pirates, the two split up, and we’re brought back to the present.

We’re now switching to real actors, and an assumed patient is being chased through London. Upon her wrist is a compass that directs her into a restaurant where she causes a scene, gets a thumbs up from a kid, and evades a tasing from Gary, the policeman. Yeah, no more Officer So-and-So; it’s simply a disgruntled Gary.

Finally, picture this, we’re introduced to our protagonist, Mia – bar staff that happens to stumble across our little escapee, taking them under their wing from the police. In all of these scenes in Mia and the Dragon Princess, you’re the spectator, waiting for the odd occasion where you will interject with a response. Do you hide the woman or rat her out to the fuzz?

Mia and the Dragon Princess PS4 Review - Punchline
Punchline. Source: PR

The Choice… Is Yours

Choices matter as they will affect the outcome of the story. You won’t get a game over, but there are many paths to unlock different endings and overall results. It transpires that the escaped patient is someone called Marshanda, and you could surmise that she’s integral to the story. She kicks arse, too.

My first playthrough only lasted 15 minutes. Why? Unaffected by motion sickness, the camera handling is unnecessarily shaky. No doubt to evoke some urgency and literal instability, I couldn’t help but think how inexpensive a tripod would have been. Another one for the oldies: do you remember NYPD Blue? It’s like that, only without the stellar acting.

Honestly, the acting in Mia and the Dragon Princess was poor, in my opinion. Mostly melodramatic and on par with a student film, even though the cast has some decent credentials. Mia was consistently good, and Paul McGann was alright, but it was too over-the-top for me. The dialogue (bruised banana ball sack, was it?) and delivery didn’t resonate, so I took a break, then had to repeat from the beginning as there were no manual save points.

Mia and the Dragon Princess PS4 Review - Dodgy
Dodgy. Source: PR

Save Me!

Mia and the Dragon Princess does automatically save, and you can carry on from the various forks in the narrative. You can’t skip repeated scenes until you’ve finished it. It wasn’t looking bright for the game, but, as a professional, I returned to it to conduct this review.

Once you get past all the cheese, it’s entertaining in its own way. It reminded me of an acted-out version of an Ian Livingstone/Steve Jackson ‘choose your own adventures’, and that pulled in my inner child. From a dark basement bar, you’re soon in an underground lair, evading traps and mortality, and it’s a little more fast-paced. The action scenes, notably the martial arts, are excellent. It’s a shame that the talkie bits are so corny.

Upon completing, you can play through again, changing your answers for a new ending or a bit of exposition – or… for completion purposes. As Mia and the Dragon Princess is short for a playthrough, you’ll likely want to return and get the most out of it. For me, it was about finishing at least one of the arcs to have some perspective, but I’m afraid the FMV king is still Not For Broadcast or even Dark Nights With Poe and Munro

Verdict

If you’re flying the flag for FMV, give Mia and the Dragon Princess a look – check out the demo on Steam if you have the chance. Outside of a demo of Night Book, this was my first game from the developer, but it wasn’t memorable for the right reasons. As always, this is opinion-based, so check out other reviews, but it’s not one I’d revisit.