Review of Kittens & Dragons a CYOA and search-and-find game for kids!

Kittens & Dragons from Van Ryder Games is a graphic novel choose-your-own-adventure (CYOA) style story that uses search-and-find mechanics instead of dice!  It’s great for running solo or with your kids for a good read, a fun game, and a wonderful adventure!

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Kittens & Dragons is great for all ages (reading or reading help required)

Kittens & Dragons is a CYOA style game that is great for any age, but particularly for elementary school and young kids who can’t read yet (since the mechanics are built for them to still participate with the reader) or for newer readers who want a good balance of text, graphics, and activities.

To go through the main story, a reader is required to be able to guide the adventure and follow the book, but then, to make choices or complete challenges, everything else is picture based and color coded, so readers and non-readers alike can participate in making choices easily.

The themes are also appropriate for all ages with options to make empathetic decisions, if that’s the route you and your players want to go, especially during the big reveal in the end.

Kittens & Dragons is set in a fantasy world and kingdom!

Kittens & Dragons is set in a kingdom of cats and a world that’s full of interesting characters and adventures!  There’s forests to explore, whitewater rapids to brave, mosquitos to fight, and new cities to discover, all depending on what paths you choose for your character, Mo, to follow.  This world has bits of magic hidden about, but primarily needs a courageous, creative, and caring heart to solve most challenges.

Your character in Kittens & Dragons

In Kittens & Dragons, you follow the adventures of Mo, the youngest cat prince in the kingdom of Marande.  Looked down on by his brothers, Mo decides to set out on his own to prove himself and solve a “problem” that’s been plaguing the city.  Mo is brave, kind, and equipped with gear, like his pool float, bug jar, dragon stuffie, and trusty fly swatter, to help him think his way out of most encounters that he’s likely to face.

Mechanics in Kittens & Dragons

Search-and-finds for combats, choices, and more!

I’ve already discussed that Kittens & Dragons is a CYOA style graphic novel, but… it is also very much a game because it has mechanics built into the book… they’re just picture-based, which is awesome!

For combat encounters and finding food, players need to search for little heart symbols or apples hidden in the scenery in order to pass the test.  While that may sound easy, there’s usually one heart or apple that’s particularly tricky, so it’s still a really good challenge.  

There’s also a few somewhat hidden choice bubbles tucked away in pictures that can give you extra options for how to proceed… if you’re paying attention and find them… AND there’s bonus hidden ladybugs throughout the book to look out for and earn you victory points at the end!

The search-and-find mechanics are a great way to engage non-readers in the story and help with getting players to really look at the pictures.  Like I said with combat, while it sounds like it might be easy to find everything, it really does take a minute, and it was GREAT seeing the excitement on kiddo’s face when he found a hidden ladybug (or four) that I had totally missed.

NPCs and gear

Throughout the story, you encounter NPCs and also find or need to use gear (so your inventory changes as you go).  There’s queues in the book that direct you to special sections in the back so you can have an out-of-panel conversation with an important character or check your bag to find a solution to your current predicament.  This gives a lot more choices to check out during your quest and is really easy to track since it’s all noted with associated pictures at the end of the book.

Leveling up!

At the end of the adventure, there is a scorecard where you total up victory points that you’ve earned along the way!  Victory points can be earned by finding hidden ladybugs throughout different panels and by making friends with NPCs!

This encourages a lot of key elements for kids including playing kindly with NPCs, rewarding friendly behavior and cooperation, paying attention and observing, tracking, and improving by trying again (if they wanted to play a second time to try for a better score).  

Overall thoughts on Kittens & Dragons

This was a blast to try out with kiddo, and we really enjoyed having a cool book and game all rolled into one.  I liked how well it engages non-readers with a variety of choices and searchables so they can do parts on their own, and it also has an exciting and cute tale to be told that we both had fun with.  This is an awesome book for reading with kids and for young to middle grade readers to try on their own, and I hope you have a great adventure with it too!

Find a copy of Kittens & Dragons

You can find a copy of Kittens & Dragons on the Van Ryder Games website!

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