Dawn of Discovery Review
Wii | DS
Dawn of Discovery box art
System: Wii, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Sunflowers Int. 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Ubisoft 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: June 23, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
A Surprisingly Deep
Historical Strategy Title

by Joseph Catalanotto

I'm a total sucker for strategy games. Turn-based strategy titles like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics are among my favorite games ever, I still enjoy RTSs like Empire Earth many years after they've been released. Dawn of Discovery is one of the genre's newest releases on the DS, and if strategy games are of particular enjoyment to you, then you owe it to yourself to check this game out.

Dawn of Discovery screenshot

While the strategy genre encompasses a significant number of modern releases, historical strategy games in the vein of the Total War series or Empire Earth are few and far between. Civilization Revolution is the only game that comes most readily to mind when thinking of historical strategy games on the DS, and that title was lacking in more ways than one.

Dawn of Discovery is known outside North America as Anno 1701, so this is not an entirely new series; that is to say, Sunflower Interactive knows what they're doing in terms of strategy games. Dawn of Discovery on the DS is essentially a DS version of Anno 1701, obviously scaled to fit the DS. But for the most part, the development team has done a great job here adapting a PC series to the confines of the DS.

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That said, while the DS may not be the most conducive gaming platform to deep, complex strategy games, Dawn of Discovery does an excellent job of adapting to the hardware and delivering a surprisingly entertaining strategy experience. The game has its fair share of quirks and problems, but none of these really feel attributable to the DS itself.

Dawn of Discovery screenshot

The game starts out with a pretty clever way of acclimating you to the game: a story mode. The story is quite lengthy (it took me more than ten hours to complete) and follows the son of a king as he attempts to help revive his faltering country. The story is surprisingly charming for what is essentially a very long tutorial. The game teaches you how to play by offering up specific objectives, each of which revolves around a new gameplay implementation or else teaches you how to manage the different layers of strategy that the game provides.

After you've completed the story mode, you start playing "for real" - that is, you're left to play (indefinitely, by the way), building up towns, exploring new islands, harvesting new resources, interacting with other countries, and occasionally even entering into a battle or two. The game is, in the tradition of strategy games, fairly overwhelming, but the tutorial does such a great job that by the time you've got an entire civilization to manage you'll feel comfortable with the game's mechanics.

Dawn of Discovery screenshot

The bulk of Dawn of Discovery lies with forming settlements and then fulfilling requirements to increase the quality of these settlements. For example, your citizens will first start as pioneers; you'll need to fulfill certain requirements to have them "level-up" to settlers. These requirements are mostly specific resources or buildings. Once you fulfill a set of requirements, the town will improve, your citizens will become happier and wealthier, and you'll earn more money in taxes that can be spent on accruing new resources, exploring new lands, or starting entirely new settlements.

Gathering resources and producing goods is a matter of building facilities and assigning citizens to work. You can assign them to gather certain items, and as you advance in the game and gain access to newer technologies, you can process those items into new goods which work toward the improvement of the town or city.

Screenshots / Images
Dawn of Discovery screenshot - click to enlarge Dawn of Discovery screenshot - click to enlarge Dawn of Discovery screenshot - click to enlarge Dawn of Discovery screenshot - click to enlarge

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