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Delight at First Light- Dawn of Discovery Reviewed

Dawn of Discovery for the Wii. Developer: Keen Games, Publisher: Ubisoft ESRB: E10

When the original SimCity was released in 1989, thousands of gamers became obsessed with building the idyllic metropolis. The success of the title spurned a steady cascade of sequels, and imitators- we’ve built medieval kingdoms, Roman empires and moonbases in subsequent years. Although there have been a number of ports to these games to consoles, the predominant format has consistently been the computer; which has had the input method, memory and CPU power to fully recreate a burgeoning municipality.

One of the best exceptions to this rule has been found in the Anno series. Anno: 1701 Dawn of Discovery for the DS proved to a hidden gem, with an intuitive control scheme, and surprising complexity. Recent Ubisoft release Dawn of Discovery forgoes part of the series moniker, but loses none of the game’s delight or charm.

Set in 1404, the aging King George looks upon his kingdom, which is being ravished by an extended drought and famine. The monarch asks his two sons, William and Edward to explore new territories to assist with the requirements of the sovereignty. Where William employs a softer, cooperative approach to cultivating the empire, Edward favors military might. While Dawn’s tale isn’t new (and makes us wonder why a game hasn’t depicted the Athens-Sparta rivalry), it is satisfying as it’s told via picturesque cut-screens and first-rate voice-over.

Players have a choice of the game’s ten-hour Story Mode, or Continuous Play. Story Mode gradually reveals the complexities of the title, as the gamer builds farms, lumber facilities, and stone quarries, on the road to self-sufficiency. Whereas previous Anno titles have presented players with a larger game map as a base of operations, Dawn of Discovery’s land masses are small to medium sized islands. The new system works well to keep to game’s zippy framerate high, and allow the gamer to concentrate on different tasks. Continuous Mode removes the rigid linearity for a enjoyable, open-ended creation experience.

Whereas most console RTS games are burdened by their input method, Discovery’s controls are quite intuitive and well planned. Players hold down the ‘A’ button on the Wiimote (or alternatively, use the stick on the Nunchuck) to scroll across the game’s world. Player can press the ‘B’ button to bring up a Halo Wars-esque building ring. The game includes a handful of handy shortcuts- players can easily copy any preexisting or structure or road. Additionally, pressing up on the control pad gives contextualized information about any unit in the world. On occasion, this data can be a bit vague- we had no idea why a shipbuilding faculty was dormant, and how many production centers are required for a processing center. Concerning taxation, the conveyed information was too unambiguous- the player is told exactly how much they can tax each resident while maintaining contentment.

Although combat is cleverly not one of the focal points of Discovery, when skirmishes do happen they are simplistic and rather unrewarding. The title’s AI largely automates warfare, which is regulated to the later chapters of the game. Armchair strategists accustomed to an intricate tech trees will be disappointed to learn that armed conflict lacks a tactical component.

Dawn of Discovery wisely avoids the photorealistic trend of sim games, to depict its islands and village in a charming cartoonish manner. The game’s vibrant colors are intelligently arranged for effortless identification, even when the game’s adjustable camera is pulled all the way out.  Character portraits, both in the game’s cinematic storytelling sequences, and as icons in the main game, are well drawn and rich in personality.

With a regretfully number of strategy games on Nintendo’s console, it would be easy to recommend even a half-hearted, full priced effort. Fortunately, Dawn of Discovery comes with an unrestrained commendation – the title is amazingly polished, and quite a value for its thirty dollar MRSP. Fans of city building simulations would be recommended to seek out this Discovery.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. Looks 200 times better than Animal Crossing.

  2. Alexander Grape

    Sounds pretty cool. I’m surprised this isn’t on 360.

  3. Yep, the Anno games kick ass.

  4. Ok for $230, $20 would be better.

  5. I loved Sim City back in the day, I might have to check this out.

  6. Probably plays better too.

  7. I might have to get this.

  8. I heard it has a two player option. What does the second player do?

  9. Good review. Maybe I’ll try this game out.

  10. Never heard of the Anno series.

  11. Very good graphics for a Wii game. I though this was for another system.

  12. Sparky McMuffin

    looks like a Disney game…

  13. $30 is very reasonable for a good strategy game.

  14. You mean the cover?

  15. Interesting game, too bad this doesn’t seem to be getting any king of marketing push.

  16. Sounds like my kind of game.

  17. Thanks for the review. I enjoy these type of games, and never heard of this one of even the Anno series.

  18. Are these games originally from Europe?

  19. Looks interesting. How big is the tech-tree, and is there multiple branches, or the same way every time?

  20. I love sim games, and will buy this when I see it.

  21. Screenshots look very nice.

  22. Finally, a Wii game that interests me!

  23. On my way to discover this at Gamestop.

  24. Wow, a good third party stategy game? I bet the Wii gets no more than 4 or 5 of these in its life.

  25. Glad to hear fighting isn’t the main focus. Too many games do that already.

  26. Cyrus tha Virus

    What other places are carrying this game. Best Buy doesn’t seem to know about it.

  27. Thanks, nice review. Happy Fourth of July, guys!

  28. Nice review! No hype for DoD, it seems.

  29. Sounds cool. On my ‘watch’ list.

  30. Looks like Civ 4, and thats a GREAT thing.

  31. 'ardcore arthur

    Sounds like a good discovery to me.

  32. Gamestop has them. There’s where I got mine.

  33. Does it have the disasters one of he old Sim cities had? I’d love to see a zombie attack in one of these game. LOL.

  34. In the 15th century???

  35. Hello
    Any idea how to load the save on Dawn of Discovery(Anno 1404) PC?


  36. Hello,
    How do I load my save on Dawn of Discovery (Anno 1404) PC>