How To Train Your Chimera
How To Train Your Dragon is, in theory, a movie franchise rife for decent video game adaptations. With plenty of lore, world building and material to draw on across both the TV and film platforms, it’s surprising then that the games haven’t managed to take advantage of this as much as they should. Despite some fun dungeon crawling mechanics and a simple, original story, New Riders fails to deliver a compelling and memorable experience, devolving too often into the usual tropes you’d expect from this sort of movie tie-in.
The story sees you control a new, unique character called Scribbler, who befriends a Chimera called Patch. Across 6 hours they explore the world together and come up against the villanious Eir, who’s controlling dragons to carry out her plans of destroying the world. Together, Scribbler and Patch traverse through puzzles, dungeons and the world map itself to track down and stop Eir before it’s too late.
The story itself is pretty generic and uninspiring if I’m honest, with unskippable in-game cutscenes drawing out the game’s length unnecessarily and lingering bits of unskippable dialogue causing an extra layer of irritation too. There are numerous animations involving scrolls too which only further exascerbate the problem here and the whole experience leaves you itching to go dungeon crawling again to avoid the generic story.
It’s all pretty formulaic stuff and most of the game clings rigidly to the same structure with each area. With a 3D, almost isometic, view, New Riders sees you control both Scribbler and Patch, traversing across bridges, islands and pathways to make it through to a dungeon and then the final boss beyond that. Split across 3 main chapters, the game progressively gets harder with physic-based puzzles and plenty of enemies to boot keeping things consistent through your play-time. While most of these do devolve into simple hack’n’slash mechanics, there’s just enough variety here to prevent this one feeling stale.
To help with the progression, New Riders peppers in a handful of upgrades, both to your weapon and armour, to keep things progressing at a steady beat. These upgrades can be unlocked by collecting a multitude of different resources dotted across the landscape, ranging from gold and copper through to a multitude of different herbs. The minerals are more plentiful in the dungeons while the herbs are laid out in the exterior areas, adding to the consistency at [play here.
It works quite well too, and at the end of each of the three dungeons is a final boss fight with Eir. Completing this then unlocks another upgrade for Patch, allowing him to eventually breathe fire, electricity and ice which is used in pretty ingenious ways across the game. These puzzles and dungeon crawling sections are ultimately the highlight of the game, although the lack of save functions and the specific slant toward this being tailored for kids means many are likely to bow out before completing these sections. Some of these dungeons do take around 1 or 2 hours to complete so do bear that in mind if you’re buying this with kids in mind.
Between each of the main areas of the game is a basic World Map with admittedly lacklustre flying mechanics for the dragon. There are a variety of different side-islands that open up, housung pretty good rewards at the end that does make it well worth the time to check out. From an abundance of resources for levelling up your gear to final upgrades for weapons, New Riders does reward you for exploring the landscape, especially with the number of chests available in each area.
Those looking for a good tie in to the How To Train Your Dragon films will be left a bit disappointed with this effort. There’s enough here to make for an enjoyable Indie title but at £30 it feels overpriced for what it is. It’s a fun game but a fleeting one at best, something to pick up and play in the moment but unlikely to leave a lasting impression.