Disney has quietly snuck in yet another game into the Windows Phone and Windows 10 Store. However, it isn't a match three-styled game that we have grown accustomed to seeing from Disney. Descendants is a role-playing game that is the official gaming title for the Disney Channel movie of the same name.
For those not familiar, Descendants is a popular television movie over on the Disney Channel. The movie chronicles the adventures of four teenagers who are the children of four of Disney's more notorious villains (Maleficent, Cruella Deville, Jafar and the Evil Queen). In a nutshell, these four teenagers are given the opportunity to attend Auradon Prep School where most of the descendants from the good Disney characters (Prince Charming, Snow White, etc.) attend. The Disney mobile game has plenty of interactions with the movie's main characters, a few mysteries to solve and some decent mini-games to keep things interesting.
My only reservation with Descendants is that game play may have a narrow appeal. While other Disney titles had across the board appeal, Descendants may hit home better with pre-teen gamers. After taking the Windows Phone version (which does not support low-memory devices) out for a spin, Descendants isn't a bad game. I just do not know how well older gamers will take to it.
Your first order of business when you launch Descendants is to sit back and relax while an additional gaming content is downloaded to your Windows Phone or Windows 10 device. The initial install about 180 MB and after that additional content is installed, you'll need about 520 MB of storage overall for Descendants.
Once completely installed, you will need to create a character for the game. You have your typical gender options with a few appearance customizations to customize your character. From there, Descendants will walk you through a series of tutorials for game play. This will include navigating your way around Auradon Prep School, interacting with the different gaming characters and other gaming features.
In a nutshell, you bounce from location to location interacting with different characters and completing missions. Missions range from simply talking to a character to scavenger hunt styled challenges. There is a lot of movement, not only from location to location but also side swiping the screen to view the entire span of an area.
The game screen is fairly universal throughout the game. Across the top of the screen, you will find your gaming stats. These stats include your gold, medallion, apple and experience levels. Gold and medallions are used to buy new gear to customize your character's appearance or apples (that would be with the medallions). Apples are used to perform an action and can be collected as you level up in experience, replenished automatically over time and bought using your medallions. In-app purchases are also available to boost your gold and medallion accounts as well.
In the lower right corner of the gaming screen, you will find four menu buttons. When you have pending actions to take care of with these gaming features, an exclamation mark will appear on that particular button. The buttons include:
- Newsfeed: Whenever a Twitter-like message is sent out by a gaming character, you can find it here.
- Wardrobe Closet: Here you can change your characters appearance with items already in your inventory or new items you buy. Speaking of which, when a new item becomes available you will see the exclamation mark pop-up on the closet button.
- Contacts: This button will pull up a listing of all the characters you have encountered during game play.
- Planner/Achievements: This button will pull up a menu listing all your gaming achievements and a planner that will give a summary of your current mission.
Along with reviewing your current mission objectives from the Planner Button, these objectives will also be displayed on the left side of the gaming screen. Tapping on this on-screen display will hide the objectives and if you need to revisit things, just tap the purple check mark to pull up the objectives list.
The flow of game play goes something along these lines. You meet a character from the movie and navigate through a series of dialog windows. Some of the dialog does offer you options for your responses but eventually the conversation will send you to another area of the Prep School to meet another character. This character will need your help in completing a task/mission. To do so you will need to find and tap on all the green dots that appear on the screen. You will have to side-swipe the screen to discover all of the dots and each tap will consume one of your apples.
In completing a task, you will be awarded experience points, gold and medallions. Tasks are also timed so if you run out of apples before you complete the task, you will need to monitor how quickly they are replenished or use your medallions to replenish things quicker. Some of the missions are also time sensitive with regards to starting them. Here you can skip the wait and jump right into things or use the time to explore the campus or build up your apple count.
Descendents is a bit of a departure for Disney with regards to their mobile gaming. We have seen storylines successfully incorporated into match-three style gaming with the likes of Maleficent, Frozen Free Fall and Dodo Pop. We've even seen similar with hidden picture puzzles. Granted the role playing atmosphere of Descendents isn't a new gaming concept, it just makes this Disney title stand out a little from the pack.
As far as game play is concerned, there is a lot of movement from place to place within the game. This movement opens the door to a lot of down time as the game transitions. Side scrolling within a venue was a little on the sluggish side, which also slowed down the flow of game play. Graphics are nicely drawn-up and game play was challenging with your resource management but overall not too difficult.
While Descendents does stand out from the Disney gaming collection, I'm on the fence as to whether or not that is a good thing. If you are a fan of the Descendants' movie, I think you will enjoy the game, but I can see the attractiveness of this game being a little narrow or age specific. There's just not a universal hook to the game, as we see with Disney's match-three style games, to give it across the board appeal.
Again, don't get me wrong, Descendants is an enjoyable game. I can see plenty of pre-teen gamers spending a lot of time playing Descendents from their Windows 10 tablets or Windows Phones. Beyond that age group is where I can see the appeal begin to fade. If you've given Descendents a try, let us know what you think of things in the comments below. At last check, Descendents is currently pulling down a 4.5 Star rating in the Stores. I'd probably dial it down to the 4 Star neighborhood but won't quibble over the half-star difference.