DreamWorks Dragons: Legends of the Nine Realms is the latest spin-off title in the long-running Dragons franchise, and is one of Outright Games’ family-friendly releases this season. It’s out for all major systems now, and we’re reviewing the PlayStation version.
I mostly associate the Dragons franchise with the movie trilogy, so to be playing a game that has very little tie-in with those films feels a little strange. They’ve expanded the IP towards mobile titles, toys and TV/streaming shows though, and this particular game is based on the latest show: Dragons: The Nine Realms.
Not having seen any of The Nine Realms, I watched an episode to familiarize myself – it takes place in a different time period with different characters, so despite some overlap in terms of art style and tone you might feel a slight disconnect with what’s happening on screen in the game, unless your kids are watching the new series and are familiar with characters like Thunder. Good to know if you’re expecting to make the jump from the movies to this new Dragons game….
In-game, the “Nine Realms” premise translates well to a game structure, as individual realms look and feel different and provide a bit of diversity to what is otherwise a mostly linear gameplay experience – which of course if par for the course in a kid game. There are a few obstacles that can momentarily stand in the way of your progress, but flipping a switch or destroying a few gems in order to open passages aren’t the kind of things that will throw even the youngest of players, although some gems require you to use specific elements/attacks to break them.
With its colorful little dragons and relatively simple gameplay, the new Dreamworks Dragons game is reminiscent of the Skylanders franchise in a way – though sadly the “toys to life” concept makes those a bit harder to get and play on a modern console. Legends of the Nine Realms also feels a bit rougher around the edges in terms of camera angles and controls though, which is a shame as the game has the potential to scratch that Skylanders itch.
For older gamers, the combat will feel a bit simplistic, but the intended audience will likely not mind – and the same is likely true for the minimalist storytelling, with small bits of narration not doing much for players who aren’t familiar with the Dragons lore beyond what the movies tell them. The developers have done a decent job in making this is a game that can be enjoyed together, even if it’s a single player game. When a young one gets stuck because the awkward camera makes him head back in the wrong direction, a quick pointer will help. If the combat’s a little too challenging, it’s easy to jump in and help, and the colorful visuals are pleasant to look at. It’s probably a good idea to check whether or not your young ones are watching the series though – they’ll appreciate the game a lot more if they do.