Review | Mia and the Dragon Princess

Live-action interactive video games from publisher/developer Wales Interactive are always worth checking out.  While they are not the most fantastic games in the world, Wales Interactive is willing to take risks, produce very different games, and is the driving force behind the FMV game genre.  Their latest release features not only a previous Doctor Who actor, in Paul McGann, but also ‘Chinese Kickboxing’ Black Belt Dita Tantang which sounds like a tantalising and obscure pairing.  Marketed as ‘A live-action interactive buddy-action movie’ this game certainly sounds like an interesting prospect.  Join me as I metaphorically ‘slip into the ring’ and get ready to receive a slapping in the Xbox Era review of Mia and the Dragon Princess.

A Stain Upon Humanity?

Beginning with a short animated sequence (think along the lines of the O-Ren Ishii back story in Kill Bill Volume 1) we are introduced to the character of Marshanda a kick-ass Javanese Princess from hundreds of years ago.  She is shown being saved from her enemies by pirate Red Kat Morgan and the sequence ends with her sailing off into a frozen landscape.  The game then switches to live-action (with a few more animated sequences unlockable) in modern-day London.

Somehow, Marshanda is seen running barefoot along the Southbank of London (a particularly hazardous activity considering the hypodermic needles that I have seen around there) in nothing but a hospital gown with a particularly unfortunate brown stain on its tail end which is certainly a break from the norm as Pirates usually try to avoid the Black Spot!  Following a tracking device on her wrist, she soon bumps into deadbeat waitress Mia who saves her from a run-in with the (very hazardous to women if the recent press reports are anything to go by) Metropolitan Police.  I will give no more away here plot-wise, but there then follows a full-blown pirate treasure-hunting adventure in a dingy basement bar on the south side of the River Thames.

If that description sounds odd to you that is because this is a very odd game.  Despite having fairly high production values and at least two recognisable actors, the end result is best described as coming across like a BBC children’s drama that also happens to feature violence and the shocking brutality of The Long Good Friday (which is, without doubt, the best British Gangster film of all time.)

In typical FMV fashion, the player is presented with a series of choices as they work through the story.  Some of these are merely fluff to pad out the action while others cause the narrative to branch off in various ways.  I was able to complete my first timeline in about an hour and unlocked two of the various endings.  I then played for another five hours as I tried to unlock every sequence and every ending.  Mercifully, a timeline map is included in the menu to help work your way through the different story twists.

This would be made easier if the resume function actually worked all of the time instead of starting the game at the beginning on some occasions which can get a bit annoying.  The RB button can be used to skip previously seen footage but this too can be hit and miss so I would recommend finishing a run-through before closing the game down.  Watching the same scenes repeatedly soon gets very old.  To be fair though the game ran peerlessly on my Series X otherwise.

Pieces of Eight!

The writing is generally pretty average but odd moments of genius came to light occasionally such as the milky cocktail dubbed ‘the discharge of the Light Brigade’ (this reviewer loves puns) and the best-dying man’s last words ever ‘Delete my browser history!’  I laughed for a few minutes after that line was uttered.  I also found it quite amusing that the main character could be lulled into doing anything by giving her a thumbs-up sign.  She may speak Javanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin as the story progresses but being in London those languages do not get her very far, whereas a smiley thumbs up will get her to kill your enemies.

The fight scenes are impressively choreographed by fight coordinator, Marcus Shakesheff of Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Game of Thrones fame, are over the top and slightly amusing but things suddenly get particularly brutal when you are least expecting it.  Seeing a gangster thug stab innocent bystanders to death just for trying to escape the dangerous situation they find themselves in through no fault of their own was particularly shocking.

Am Dram Masterclass?

While the all-round production values are pretty high the game eventually overreaches resulting in something that comes across as rather Pantomime.  The cheesy acting of McGann as the villain of the piece does not particularly help, as well as the blockbuster attempted endings which although worth applauding for effort end up looking pretty cheap in their execution. One again, the character attributes earned through choice selection seemed to have no real bearing on anything.

This is a fun way to spend an afternoon if you are not expecting too much and enjoy these types of games, as I do.  The narrative is interesting enough even if it does seem to be missing a few things after seeing the various finales.  The animated sections are particularly impressive which makes me suspect that this product could have delivered so much more with an appropriate budget.  There is, however, scope for a sequel if you successfully navigate your way to two particular endings.

Wrapping things up

Mia and the Dragon Princess is worth a look if you are a fan of this type of game.  Impressive acting talent is present although they are in full-on ‘hamming it up’ mode, the fight scenes are well choreographed and there are a few killer lines of dialogue.  If the idea of a children’s TV drama mixed with a brutal British gangster film appeals to you, this could be a dream come true.

Mia and the Dragon Princess

Played on
Xbox Series X
Mia and the Dragon Princess


  • Some impressive acting talent, albeit in 'hamming it up' mode.
  • A few well-produced animated sections.
  • Amusing, yet shockingly brutal combat scenes.


  • Comes across a bit 'Children's TV drama' or 'Panto' at times.
  • The resume button sometimes takes you back to the beginning so it is best to complete a run-through.
  • It can be tiresome repeatedly having to watch the same scenes if the RB function does not let you skip them.
6.0 out of 10
XboxEra Scoring Policy


Staff Writer & Review Team

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