Game: Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developer|Publisher: Cateia Games | Ocean Media
Age Rating: EU 12 | USA E (Everyone)
Price: UK £8.99 | EU €9,99 | USD $9.99 | CAD $12.59| AUD $15.00
Release Date: July 16th 2020
Review code used, with many thanks to Ocean Media!
Ah, another Cateia point-and-click adventure graces my Nintendo Switch! Let’s see how Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2: The Lair measures up against its fellows, Black Rainbow and Myths Of Orion: Light from the North.
Story and Characters
I never played the original Tales from the Dragon Mountain, so I’m not entirely familiar with the characters involved in the sequel, but you’ll be pleased to know that background information isn’t really necessary for this adventure. The long, awkwardly animated, and slightly sadly voiced cutscene, story short is that an evil sorcerer is trying to take over a peaceful mountain range. As the heroine who stopped him in the past, it’s up to Mina to once again foil Lord Strix’s evil plans and save your home.
Honestly, the story felt very loose and slightly bizarre, as though put together without any real consideration for cohesion. One section essentially boils down to “I know you need this magic stone, that your friend left here for you, to go and defeat the nefarious sorcerer that’s trying to destroy our lives, but first can you help me fix my garden?” Hidden object adventures are a wonderful way to tell a brilliant story, but examples such as the one above don’t really add to the story, let alone make sense. A game with such a basic (yet classic) premise has to shine in the storytelling and I was sadly let-down by this semblance of a journey that really needs a good re-write to draw in new fans who are used to sprawling, interesting adventures.
If you haven’t played, or heard of, a point-and-click adventure before, then A) what rock did you grow up under and B) they’re as simple as they sound. You navigate a scene using the appropriate clicker to locate useful objects and puzzles, which must be solved to progress in the game. The majority of Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2’s puzzles require the finding of an item first, before the puzzle will unlock or are environmental puzzles such as locating the ingredients for bread or dragging a key onto a door. It’s simple, and I enjoyed the variety of the puzzles I was presented with.
Point and click is an easy style to replicate, thanks to the Switch’s touch screen functionality. Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate very well to docked or tabletop play regardless of the control scheme. Regardless of whether you’re using a pro controller (official or unofficial) or joy-cons, the cursor is moved using the right stick and RT is the click. I understand the logic behind single joy-con control, but it isn’t a multiplayer game so I’m sure people wouldn’t mind using both hands to play – RT for clicking just feels wrong, and using the right stick felt unwieldy for me. I’m not sure how difficult it would be, but I’d love control selection of some kind. Left stick to move and A to click feels much more natural for me.
One thing that definitely caused me an issue was the control responsiveness. During the majority of the game the speed of the cursor when using a controller wasn’t a problem but one specific task required me to highlight 4 icons quickly enough that they all glow at once. The stick-controlled cursor just wasn’t fast enough! I had to undock my Switch and play that particular section using touch screen. Unfortunately, the touch screen control wasn’t as responsive as I’d have liked. I often found myself tapping something far too many times in an attempt to get it to select and quickly grew frustrated with the lack of responsiveness – much to the dismay of my friends, who could just hear an increasingly angry tirade on our voice chat.
Graphics, Sound, and Performance
The graphics were sorely sub-par considering what I’ve come to expect from the Cateia ports. Cutscenes were fuzzy and jerky and even the static landscapes had a slight blur to the edges. It just wasn’t the same quality I was greeted with in Myths of Orion and it was disappointing. I love point-and-click adventures, and the normally beautiful art is one of the core requirements for a good hidden object game.
The sound design was simultaneously better and worse. The voice acting was flat, emotionless and often sounded digitally generated. I’d rather have no voiced characters than badly done ones and it left me feeling rather underwhelmed. The atmospheric sound was basic, but sweet, but didn’t add much to the experienc. I suspect this was due to the let-down of the graphics, as normally a combination of the two sets a wonderful atmosphere for each area.
Difficulty is very subjective in a point-and-click game, and Tales from the Dragon Mountain 2 is no exception. There are three difficulty options that can be toggled, to make the game more or less challenging, but they don’t affect the difficulty of the puzzles overall. I barely found myself using the hint button, other than in one instance where I couldn’t see an object for the life of me and I partially attributed that issue to the graphics, and the Skip button didn’t get touched once.
I also managed to pick up all but one of the collectable objects on my first pass without really looking for them, so they can’t be that difficult to complete. Some of the puzzles made me pause for a while, which was nice, but the majority I just breezed through. This isn’t unusual in this type of game, but I’m sure someone less accustomed could get quite a bit more time out of each puzzle.
I spent most of my time playing annoyed at either the off-track story, dodgy controls, or lacklustre animations, which is a shame because with a refresh (which really, should be done as standard when porting such an old game to such a new system) it could be a pretty decent bit of fun. As it is, I’d have been sadly disappointed at paying for this short, badly-ported adventure. However, if you’re looking for a game to sink a few hours in to and exercise your brain while you’re at it, it’ll fill that need nicely.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure