Mia and the Dragon Princess PC Review

Mia and the Dragon Princess couldn’t balance the great acting due to a poor script.

By Fragnarok, Posted 08 May 2023

Around three hundred years ago, pirate leaders Marshanda Damayanti and Red Kate Morgan ruled the South China Seas. However, rivals, past targets, and the law were always hot on their tail. Marshanda sailed to the artic alone and was never seen again. Kat established a point of refuge for them in London called Smuggler’s Tavern, but over time lost hope and drifted into old age.

Now, in the 21st century, Kat’s old bar still stands, but it is a far cry from its twilight era centuries before. Its current owner, Skip, is under constant pressure to give up the building and sell it to the neighbor business, the Dragon Princess restaurant. One night the Smuggler’s Tavern waitress, Mia, heads into the back alley only to discover a confused Marshanda. She is covered in a hospital gown, wearing a compass device on her wrist, and able to only speak old Indonesian and Mandarin. It will be Mia’s crucial decision to find out the truth of not only Marshanda’s return but the dark secrets of the Dragon Princess.

Mia and the Dragon Princess, PC, Review, Interactive Movie Games, Female Actress, NoobFeed

Wales Interactive is well known for their full-motion video games. This includes The Complex, Five Dates, and Maid of Sker. They feature digital quality film and acting that could rival streaming shows found on services like Netflix or Disney+. This allows both a game and something that could be simply watched passively if one wanted.

A big draw is the acting talent. Among the most recognizable is Paul McGann playing the main antagonist, Mr. Walsh, owner of the Dragon Princess. He is best known for playing the eighth version of Doctor Who during its 1996 reboot film and a lead-in episode before the series’ 50th anniversary.

Other notable actors appearing in Mia and the Dragon Princess include MyAnna Buring (The Witcher) and Jon Xue Zhang (The Complex, Walsh Interactive regular). Relative newcomer Noa Nikita Bleeker also leads the game as Mia. Finally, British YouTuber Daz Games has a cameo as himself.

All of the fight scenes are extremely well done. The choreography is action-packed, and it appears as if everyone knows what they are doing. There are no visible stunt double replacements which help sell that everyone is kicking and punching. It is unclear if the actors had previous martial arts training or learned everything just for the game.

Mia and the Dragon Princess, PC, Review, Interactive Movie Games, Female Actress, NoobFeed

As an interactive film, Mia and the Dragon Princess is mostly watched with some input from players on what should happen next. Players are given two choices and a timer, with the first being automatically selected if neither is picked. Various decisions will change Mia’s five stats: Compassion, Intelligence, Bravery, Responsibility, and Knowledge. High and low scores in each will unlock possible new scenes, info, and endings.

People can track their timeline progress by pausing the game. This will show the current story route in orange, while past playthroughs will be in white. Not every choice is a major named story beat, and some scenes will not bother being recorded to the tree.

Outside of Mia, Skip, and Marshanda, the core staff over at the Smuggler’s Tavern also includes bartender Eddie and tour guide Sebastian who brings in regular customers. Among the patrons visiting for the day are American tourist Megan, suspended spy Benicia, exes Tony and Beth, who accidentally brought both their dates to the same location, and a whole group of drunken “hens” throwing a lady’s night out. Mr. Walsh also has a number of thugs and reps, including Collins and Cross.

Based on Mia's actions, characters can come in and out of the story. This lets her learn people's backstories, motivations, and personalities as she interacts. However, with the growing strangeness of Marshanda’s arrival and tensions with Walsh, players will only be able to talk to certain people per viewing.

Mia and the Dragon Princess, PC, Review, Interactive Movie Games, Female Actress, NoobFeed

For instance, one could go down a path learning more about Tony and Beth’s past relationship and why it didn’t work out or concentrating on why Skip won’t just sell the bar. However, even if Mia doesn’t formally meet someone, that character might still be important to the plot. This can lead to awkward routes where an important scene takes place despite several people never being introduced.

In some cases, only one or two takes of a scene were shot along with many paths able to converge for the next act. This can make for some really weird transitions where a character will purposely go sit down, change clothes, or shrug off an injury so that the footage matches. This isn’t as noticeable the first time through, but it becomes distracting if you are trying to see every ending.

At present, there are ten official endings to Mia and the Dragon Princess. However, these include gruesome or depressing outcomes for Mia or Marshanda, essentially making some of them just elaborate game over screens. Instead, there are only one or two really “great” endings, typically by going the route that saves all the protagonists and also finds Kat’s legacy.

Finding these good paths also typically is just simple logic and common sense. Character deaths and failures come from picking something rather outlandish - like relying on the internet instead of a pirate cipher to figure out an ancient puzzle armed to shoot deadly poison. In some other cases, minor selections will also simply lead to a dramatic event because it is what is required of the next act.

Mia and the Dragon Princess, PC, Review, Interactive Movie Games, Female Actress, NoobFeed

Making mistakes is mostly to see all of the content, gain Steam achievements, or unlock audio recordings narrated by Sebastian. This additional “Tour with Sebastian” gives further backstory on the location and events with Kat and other pirate tales. Missing some of these side stories can leave a rather wide grasp on possible understanding of Mia and the Dragon Princess.

Wales Interactive did not have access to open oceans in the South China Sea or large ships to film on. Instead, major events from the 18th century are presented as drawn animatic reels. The art style is memorable, though it only vaguely resembles real-life actors. They are more akin to early Adult Swim cartoons like Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Metalocalypse. Flipping between the two can be a bit jarring but is fine as simply bookends.

Having a very adventurous backstory and plot, Wales Interactive did not shy away from including special effects. However, they are very amateur-looking and take away from the rest of the presentation. Old pirate traps look extremely unconvincing, and whole characters are replaced with full CGI stand-ins for scenes that would have been too dangerous or expensive for practical effects.  

Mia and the Dragon Princess is very well acted, with the entire cast bringing a stellar performance. All lines are delivered clearly and expressly, with everyone portraying just the right tone and emotion. Outside of English, everyone has a believe accent and cadence to seem like a native of their respective language. Though, one does have to suspend their belief that people or translations three hundred years apart would understand each other.

Mia and the Dragon Princess, PC, Review, Interactive Movie Games, Female Actress, NoobFeed

Unfortunately, the actors did the best they could. Despite being a narrative-based game, its writing is the weakest part of Mia and the Dragon Princess. Characters themselves have lines that no person would ever say to ones that are completely tone-deaf to the actual scene. Some paths even seem to contradict each other.

The full plot of Mia and the Dragon Princess is also rather unsatisfying, even once seeing every ending. Marshanda constantly feels like a plot device instead of a full character, and in many routes or attribute combinations, Mia is sitting around passively watching other people forward the plot. In one of the early watches, Megan actually seemed more competent and the intended protagonist. It is almost as if this was switched during production, as it would be weird for a random American traveler to have more agency and investment than Mia or Skip.

A single watch of Mia and the Dragon Princess takes around 50 minutes. That is rather short if one only wants to experience it all once. Others can get multiple endings, but the total amount of time spent will be re-watching many scenes.

Subsequent playthroughs of the story allow a story skip button by pressing the tab key. This is meant to bypass everything previously viewed but can be rather strict. For instance, a path where Marshanda likes candy instead of never being offered it before might be considered different scenes, even if 90% of the footage is identical.

Mia and the Dragon Princess, PC, Review, Interactive Movie Games, Female Actress, NoobFeed

This just leads to more tedium and eventual boredom with seeing alternate routes. There just aren’t enough changes in another plotline to warrant seeing everything. The more unique shot takes, or even full-on scenes, could have alleviated much of this.

Mia and the Dragon Princess is really only for the most diehard interactive FMV game fans. Even if one loves the rest of the Wales Interactive library, the game’s story is just a glaring oversight that brings down all of the great acting. Players will want to wait for a sale or bundle or to look for other game options in the meantime.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Wales Interactive
Developer(s): Wales Interactive, Dead Pixel Productions
Genres: Adventure
Themes: Interactive, Film, Pirates, Heist, Fantasy
Release Date: 2023-05-04

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