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'DOTA: Dragon’s Blood' Review: Lore turned character-driven adventure

'DOTA: Dragon's Blood' creates an immersive visual backstory with engaging quirks, humor and bloody battles into a tale that deserves to be canon

Man in armor holding up forearm with shining blade strapped to it
(Image: © Netflix)

Our Verdict

This is a thoroughly entertaining game adaptation

For

  • ⚔️Strong character Development
  • ⚔️A good focus on world-building and lore

Against

  • ⚔️The slow burn is a bit much in some areas.
  • ⚔️A few too many mysteries are left unresolved.

DOTA: Dragon's Blood follows Dragon Knight Davion (Yuri Lowenthal) as he falls into a battle of between powers way above his pay grade. Based on the popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) DOTA 2, Dragon's Blood brings together renown warrior Davion with another notable game character Princess Mirana (Lara Pulver) for a quest - with secret agendas - to uncover his identity and his role in the larger events unfolding around him. 

With a nod to the game's the animation style and game play, Studio Mir turns this adaptation* into a vibrant visual story that (almost) flawlessly blends the lore into Dragon's Blood world-building. The end result is an immersive character-driven world that balances fanservice and creating a dynamic standalone narrative certain to engage non-gamer viewers. 

The eight-episode series opens with a prologue that not only lays the groundwork for a larger unfolding mystery but firmly grounds its characters. The relationship between Davion and Mirana at the center of this storyline has vital layers and nuances and intersection with would-be allies and foes. So, dropping the audience into Davion's world as he battles a dragon folds them into the narrative in a way that's reveals motivations, loyalties, and what's unique about this world and its players. Is an extremely smart decision that aids the slow-building tension driving the characters to act. A great bonus is, it's also an unabashedly bloody opening that sets the baseline expectation for the action (and violence) in the remaining episodes. 

With over 120 characters full of personality and backstories just waiting to be fleshed out, showrunner Ashley Edward Miller pulled together a plot that made excellent choices when it came to featuring known players. By episode three you'll be picking sides, investing in outcomes, and thoroughly enjoying watching the action unfold.  This is a hard one to talk about without spoiling so I won't dig too deeply into the details so as to not spoil the fun. 

But, do expect to recognize some of the story points and character histories if you played DOTA 2. Then be ready for the lore to develop into subplots with twist and turn leading to engaging new mysteries that (hopefully) subsequent seasons will continue to flesh out. There are a few big introductions that definitely kick the action up a notch while truly bring the town, magic and mission to intriguing life. 

The mysteries driving the varied players decisions leads them to turn to (and away) from one another never stops. And with such solid voice performances coupled to a score totally in tuned to with action, overall Dragon's Blood makes for a very entertaining watch; even if it does leave you a little too wanting at the end. 

Note: DOTA: Dragon’s Blood is an adult animated series. There's nudity, violence and more than a few moral dilemmas being unpacked. So, be mindful of cuing this up for anyone under the age of 15 (17 if you're a ratings hardliner) if you're not into covering the eyes of (or answering potentially weighty existential questions from) tiny humans.