Last year, Ubisoft put out a new real-time strategy game called Dawn of Discovery that somewhat flew under the radar. With the main SKU leading on the PC along with some down-sampled ports on the Wii and DS, critics and consumers alike gave it a favorable reception. Hoping to continue developing the brand’s exposure, the team at BlueByte put together an original game for the iPhone dubbed Dawn of Discovery – Harbor. Epic name aside, read on to find out if this is a discovery you should make.
Taking a departure from the franchise’s emphasis on hardcore strategy and city building, Harbor is a trading game at its core. Wrapped together by a boilerplate storyline set in the 15th century, your goal is to run a profitable harbor that’s visited by ships and vessels of all sizes. Each ship has a commodity that you acquire when it hits your coast. In exchange, you have to supply them with something they need. Spices, almonds, wood, you name it, there’s a market for it in Harbor. You beat levels by accumulating a certain level of revenue before the timer runs out. Generally, the gameplay mechanics are functionally solid.
Trade ya some nuts for some jewels.
Using easy drag-and-drop controls and smart visual indicators, Harbor controls very well. Pounding through levels opens up new opportunities to host more ships of various sizes. Making decisions about what types of ships to bring in is part of the fun. Do you dock the small boat vessel that’ll quickly depart, or welcome in a humongous ship that has a bigger haul that takes forever to get serviced.
Harbor feels like a grand experience based on the sum of its presentation elements. Each of the game’s four environments looks like sketch drawings eloquently fleshed out with great colors and detailed geometry. Supplementing the visuals is an epic soundtrack that feels ripped out of a summer blockbuster. No complaints at all here.
A busy port is a profitable port.
Depth is a little lacking in Harbor. While you can earn trophies, there isn’t any online connectivity to hook up with friends to show off milestones. There are only four environments with a total of 36 sub-levels built in. Given the fact that each level lasts a couple of minutes, it’s easy to blaze through the game. The other thing to note is that this game won’t expand the trading genre. Depending on your tastes, these games can either be addictive or sleep-inducing.
Make no mistake, Dawn of Discovery – Harbor is a very solid game that’ll excite fans of trading games. While there are a few rough patches on this ship, the guys at BlueByte should be proud of this successful move to the iPhone.