|System: Wii, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Keen Games / Blue Byte||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: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Colonizing new lands and building a vast civilization from nothingness requires careful planning and management of resources to ensure a delicate balance is maintained to help your society grow and succeed.
While well-known games like SimCity and City Life have all but perfected the formula, the extreme level of detail and complexity that comes with running a fledgling civilization as it expands and changes can be a bit overwhelming for some players. Dawn of Discovery, a Wii adaptation of the Anno series on PC, takes a more gentle approach to creating and maintaining a prosperous virtual realm without sacrificing depth.
Despite a cartoonish delivery and distinct character design that makes it easily mistakable for a Disney-movie spinoff, Dawn of Discovery is very much the real deal. Its disarmingly kid-friendly appearance belies a complex economic system that fits together like an intertwining puzzle. Many other city-building simulations drop you into the fray with tons of options from the start and require you to play through numerous tutorials to grasp all of the necessary concepts. Dawn of Discovery plays like one big tutorial from the start, layering in new levels of detail only after youve had a chance to properly digest the previous course.
The game takes place in 1404, just as King Georges land is being ravaged by devastating droughts. With his citizens starving, he summons his two sons to explore outward into the realm beyond and seek the resources needed to save the people. As William, the more benevolent of the kings two sons, youll seek a peaceful resolution to the problem and work to gain the friendship of cultures beyond your borders an approach that contrasts sharply with the conniving, war-happy attitude of his brother Edward. Allying with foreign societies opens up tremendous opportunities for your people and helps you expand your empire. Meanwhile, youll also have to pick up your siblings slack, send resources to the homeland, and tackle new obstacles as they arise.
When embarking on the main, story-driven campaign, earlier chapters introduce you to the basics of constructing important buildings, their function in the games economy, and how to create the balance needed to make your towns thrive. All this is done while pursuing specific objectives that give you goals to strive for as you implement the suggestions dished out by your advisors. As you progress, more structures are unlocked and additional tasks are added on for you to manage. The first settlers to move in to your colonies only require housing, food, and a few other material resources, but more advanced resources and goods are needed to grow your settlement, entice wealthier residents to move in, and keeping everyone happy. With the right combination of food, crafts, education, sanitation, and building materials, your settlers will advance in their cultural level and fill your coffers with more gold assuming youve taken care in the placement of your buildings.
Instead of populating large continents, all of the settling in Dawn of Discovery happens across small islands littering the ocean. Some islands offer varying levels of fertility for different resources, and all of the mini-colonies you form provide for your civilization as a whole. Building shipyards and vessels to travel between islands lets you claim new territories, hunt for sunken treasure, and eventually engage in limited warfare. New areas of the ocean can be unlocked to provide additional opportunities for exploration, by reaching certain achievements and uncovering treasure maps. The focus remains almost solely on building your settlements, pursuing objectives to advance to new chapters, and keeping your economy balanced. Combat doesnt crop up until the later portion of the game and is mainly limited to building a small number of troops to defend your ports or shipping them out in boats to take over enemy shorelines. The better late than never approach doesnt really fit very cohesively. The battling element seems almost unnecessary, since the other endeavors are absorbing on their own.