|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|
Obviously, each facility requires gold to upkeep, so it's important to be mindful of the kingdom's economic well-being. It's easy to get caught up in constantly improving one particular city, but this strategy is not a good one because it'll leave other settlements floundering, without resources or the cash to gather them. The combination of macro-and micromanagement is a fun and addictive element of Dawn of Discovery.
While it's lots of fun to watch your towns increasingly improve, it's equally fun to manage high-level settlements. The more people and buildings you have in a town, the more opportunities there are for problems to break out. Keeping everything under control by building specific facilities (a hospital to deal with disease, for example) is just as fun as building up your towns.
Additionally, resource management has a far greater role than just allowing your cities to become bigger and better; many of them are also essential in keeping your population happy. For example, keeping food production up is essential for keeping your population happy and healthy. This is also where one of the game's biggest strategic frustrations comes in, however. For the most part, Dawn of Discovery is good in giving you the information you need to make decisions. However, when it comes to processing resources, the game tells you the percent efficiency a facility is operating at but not how many people the facility can supply. As a result, you never really know for sure if a factory is going to be able to continue to provide for an increasing population, which leads to some annoying food shortages and disease outbreaks that aren't really the player's fault.
While I'm on the subject of problems with the game, it's worth noting that the camera control is quite clunky for a game that otherwise manages to be pretty easy to navigate. Instead of using the D-pad or face buttons to scroll around the map, the action is assigned to the stylus; you hold the stylus on the edge of the screen to move in that direction. As a result, you'll occasionally end up accidentally selecting people or facilities that you didn't mean to select. I realize this is a fairly petty nit-pick, but it's the single control problem in an otherwise well-controlling game.
Another slight disappointment is the very shallow combat in the game. Combat is obviously not a huge focus of the game, but fighting seems inevitable in a game like this and Dawn of Discovery doesn't do it very well. There's only one soldier type, and only one soldier facility (the barracks). This leads to some pretty boring battles essentially devoid of strategy. You can use ships to fight as well as explore, but they're large, unwieldy, and time-consuming, and as a result aren't really suited to anything other than searching out new lands.
Visually, Dawn of Discovery makes the most of what it has to work with. The graphics are cartoonishly appealing, but they belie a surprisingly deep resource-management set-up. More importantly, the game never really feels cramped and you can always see what's going on.
I'd hazard to suggest that Dawn of Discovery is the most entertaining, engaging historical strategy title on the DS. Fans of the genre should definitely check this game out. Even if a game like Civilization Revolution didn't quite do it for you, you're sure to satisfy any strategic craving you have with Dawn of Discovery.
CCC Freelance Writer