Dreamworks Dragons: Dawn of New Riders (Switch, PS4, Xbox One)

The final installment in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy just hit theaters recently, and now you can have even more adventures with your favorite dragons and Vikings with Dawn of New Riders.  It’s available on most current home consoles, but reviewed on Switch here.  Even though there are events from the third movie happening in this game, Dawn of New Riders is a whole new adventure.  In this game, you play as Scribbler, a Viking scholar who has lost his memory.  He finds himself on an island refuge for dragons and must fend off trappers.  He finds a dragon egg that soon hatches into a new friend: Patch.  Together, Scribbler and Patch embark on a 2-D top down Zelda-like adventure to save the dragons.  Along the way, they’ll meet up with several familiar characters from the movies and cartoon series, including Hiccup, Toothless, Astrid, and more!

You play the game in top-down fashion, similar to an older Zelda title.  Although this game is a bit more linear.  You can equip weapons and armor like helmets, axes, hammers, and swords, and can upgrade them later to be more powerful.  Scribbler can swing weapons to attack enemies, roll out of the way, and use potions to refill his health.  You can also switch to Patch, who can help you solve puzzles.  Patch can step on switches and use his magical dragon breath to activate certain spots.  After you complete certain objectives, Patch will grow and learn new abilities.  Ice breath allows you to walk on frozen water, while electric breath can power certain statues.  After a while, Patch will grow quickly and allow you to ride on his back.  Then you can fly to other islands.

The game flows like this.  You’ll travel to a land and explore an outside area, like a grassland campsite or snowy mountains.  Then you’ll explore a dungeon and defeat a boss to move the story along.  During each section, you’ll defeat enemies and solve puzzles.  Hit breakable items to collect herbs and other materials.  You’ll want to collect as many as you can, because those materials are what you use to upgrade your weapons and trade herbs for potions when you see Astrid.  You’ll want to especially stock up on potions because the baddies can get pretty tough.  Astrid appears at certain points in the overworld and in the beginning and end of dungeons.  The game saves automatically when you pass by torches.

While the game is a lot better than most movie licensed titles, it isn’t perfect.  Play control feels a little off, and it would be nice to have more frequent save areas, especially in the dungeons.  Sometimes the dungeons lock you in, so you can’t get out and fly back to camp to upgrade weapons right away, which is annoying.  But otherwise, this game is a lot better than I expected it to be, so if you like the How to Train Your Dragon series and top-down action adventures, you may want to check this one out.

Kid Factor:

Dragons: Dawn of New Riders is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  When you defeat human enemies, they just fall over and disappear in a puff of smoke or run away.  When you fight dragons, you don’t really hit them, but instead you hit glass bottles attached to the dragons that are filled with liquid that controls them.  Once you break them, the dragon is freed and flies away.  Reading skill is a must for the text, and younger gamers may find it a bit too difficult.  If you’re OK with your kids watching the movies, they’ll be OK with the game.

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