With a different developer at the helm and a new genre, Dreamworks Dragons: Legends of the Nine Realms is far from a sequel to 2019’s Dreamworks Dragons: Dawn of New Riders.
Both games exist within the same Dreamworks IP about dragons, but their similarities start and end there. While Dawn of New Riders was a basic action RPG, Dreamworks Dragons: Legends of the Nine Realms is instead a level-based action game. Here, players start out in control of Thunder, heading out on a mission to save their family. Thankfully, Thunder isn’t alone, and as you progress through the game’s five distinct worlds you’ll encounter more dragons to join your party.
There are four altogether, with each dragon under your control having their own unique elemental power. Thunder unsurprisingly harnesses the power of electricity, while others have useful fire and ice skills, and others. Handily, you can switch between dragons on the fly to make use of their abilities (and if you take damage, switching to another will allow health of inactive characters to regenerate).
Each level will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete, and they’re all fairly linear. Make your way through by using your abilities to clear blockades, take out enemies (there are plenty of those!) and collect gems. Occasionally there are a few pathway choices, but most lead to extra collectibles. Put it this way: you won’t get lost trying to find the end point.
What is enjoyable about traversing a level is that you can choose to walk or fly. Because if you’re playing as a dragon, where’s the fun in that if you can’t take to the skies? Sometimes you’ll have to – to cross large chasms, for example – but often it’s your choice, and switching between ground or air is seamless.
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Dreamworks Dragons: Legends of the Nine Realms is rather combat-heavy and – surprisingly for a game aimed at children – requires a bit of skill. In early levels you’ll likely get away with simply bashing the ‘attack’ button. But as enemy encounters get more difficult, you’ll need to make use of different abilities, and time your attacks between dodges. All enemies have a tell when they’re about to attack, and dodging out of the way is necessary unless you want to take substantial damage.
The same goes for boss fights: every one of Legends of the Nine Realms‘ world has a boss to face, offering up a tense and meaty combat experience. They’re not overly difficult, but players will need to tread carefully to avoid being wiped out. Thankfully, death isn’t particularly harshly punished here: you’ll simply need to try again.
To help you out as you progress through the game, a number of character upgrades can be bought. By using the gems you’ve collected in each level, you can buy new attacks for the dragons you’ve unlocked, increase their damage output, improve their health, and more. Make sure you spend the gems wisely, because particular upgrades can make a whole lot of difference.
We’ve been playing on PS5, and while Dreamworks Dragons: Legends of the Nine Realms isn’t exactly pushing the console to its limits, it is a pleasant-looking game. Levels are nicely designed, with environments that feel expansive even if your actual path is hemmed in. The different worlds – whether it’s fiery, icy or filled with crystals – all look wonderful. The character and enemy designs look great too, and there’s a wonderful use of colour.
Our experience playing has been mostly smooth, but we’ve had a few hiccups. We’ve occasionally got stuck on part of a level’s scenery for a few seconds, requiring quite a bit of thumbstick gymnastics to wiggle ourselves free. It’s hardly game-breaking, but does halt the flow of the game from time to time.
Although a little repetitive in nature, Dreamworks Dragons: Legends of the Nine Realms is a competent franchise tie-in game that’s sure to appeal to any fan of the series. It’s straightforward enough to be enjoyed by children, but the extra layer of skill provided to the combat will be appreciated by older players, too. It’s not going to be lighting anyone’s world on fire, but it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon with the family at the very least.