Aggressive video games like Magic: The Gathering and League of Legends are completely dripping with lore. Whereas they may not inform a narrative within the conventional sense, they’ve surprisingly sturdy fantasy worlds. Normally, you may solely catch this in short snippets by way of taste textual content or character bios. However more and more, recreation studios are trying to construct on these fictional worlds by way of extra conventional storytelling, whether or not it’s comics, quick tales, or TV reveals.
The newest instance is Dota: Dragon’s Blood on Netflix, which fleshes out the world of Valve’s long-running Dota 2 through an eight-episode anime. The excellent news is that it’s a enjoyable, albeit temporary, fantasy romp you may take pleasure in even in case you haven’t performed the sport. The unhealthy information is that it does little or no to clarify what makes the world of Dota fascinating.
This assessment consists of some spoilers for the early episodes of Dragon’s Blood.
Dragon’s Blood follows the paths of some completely different characters, beginning with Davion, a dragon knight serving to a small city rid itself of some harmful monsters. Early on, after an odd run-in with an elder dragon, he turns into possessed by a demonic drive that sometimes causes him to inconveniently flip right into a flesh-hungry dragon himself. Quickly after that, he groups up with a disgraced princess named Mirana — who rides a large cat — on a quest to treatment himself and likewise forestall a warfare of some type. There are additionally elves in quest of magical lotus flowers, a goddess determined to be worshipped, and a handful of different story arcs overlaying all the pieces from warring elven factions to crazed monsters to the temporary look of zombies. Oh, and an evil speaking sword.
Actually, there’s rather a lot occurring, however the present strikes at a brisk tempo and by no means settles on a thread for too lengthy. As is frequent in fantasy tales, there are a number of teams with completely different objectives, all seemingly dashing towards one another. However you not often get to see these threads work together in fascinating methods. Simply describing the plot is tough: there are folks making an attempt to cease a warfare, however a few of the key components — like these magic flowers that characters threat their lives for — are by no means actually defined. It’s virtually by no means clear why issues which might be deemed necessary really matter.
There are some issues the present does effectively. Most notably, it’s filled with nice motion sequences — the animation was dealt with by Studio Mir, greatest recognized for its work on The Legend of Korra — with a number of cool particular powers and dangerous-looking dragons. You don’t have to grasp Dota lore to take pleasure in a well-choreographed battle between a superpowered knight and the dragon he’s been looking for many years. The motion is quick and fluid, and Dragon’s Blood makes nice use of scale and spectacle, with plenty of huge battles and chase sequences. I ought to word, nevertheless, that issues can get fairly graphic. Like Netflix’s Castlevania adaptation, Dragon’s Blood is filled with blood and gore, with a number of decapitations and even one sequence the place a dragon is butchered.
Primarily, the present is eye sweet, rapidly leaping from one action-heavy sequence to the following. It appears unbelievable, however because it’s solely eight episodes, this quick tempo means it by no means has the time to totally develop its characters or world. Even worse, Dragon’s Blood by no means does something to make Dota stand out from the numerous different fantasy tales on the market. I really like historical dragons and stealthy elf warriors as a lot as anybody, however they’re not precisely new territory. What’s it that makes Dota 2’s universe fascinating? As somebody who watched the present however hasn’t performed the sport, I couldn’t let you know. I do know it’s a franchise that has an extremely devoted fan base, some who have played for thousands of hours. However the present reduces it to a bunch of nice motion sequences overlaying a generic fantasy story.
Perhaps issues will change in a second season now that the principle solid has been launched and the magical MacGuffins have been revealed. However after eight episodes, I can’t say I’m any extra fascinated by taking part in a number of rounds of Dota 2 than I used to be earlier than. Dragon’s Blood is sensible in that it doesn’t assume the viewer has a lot information of the franchise. Sadly, it by no means impressed me to dig deeper, both.
Dota: Dragon’s Blood airs on Netflix beginning on March 25th.