Dracula 3 - Path Of The Dragon
by Danyboy and Draclvr
October 11, 2008
It is September 1920. The Vatican appoints Father Arno Moriani, the “Devil's Advocate,” to investigate a potential candidate for sainthood in Transylvania. But in the shadows of the disturbing ruins of what was once Vlad the Impaler's castle, his investigation takes an unexpected turn…
There are obviously no such things as vampires... at least according to the official line of the Catholic Church. But how can you be so sure, standing in the swirling mists of Transylvania?
You must carry out your investigation amidst tales of bloody deeds and ancestral fears. Doubts start clouding your mind and doubt begets fear…
First of all, the origin of vampires started very long ago. If we research the myth, we will find it is actually based on real stories which have been greatly transformed and added to. One has warriors drinking the blood of their enemies to obtain their knowledge or strength. Others tell of blood offerings made to appease the gods. Blood lettings were considered a way to heal people of their various ills. In stories, sorcerers used blood in their potions and sometimes in satanic ceremonies.
Blood is the essence of life for all living creatures, so it was inevitable that someone would create a monster who would take this precious essence and use it to quench his thirst and help him live forever. Bram Stoker brought Dracula to life in his novel of the same name in 1897, and the story still survives after more than a century.
In Dracula 3, The Path of the Dragon you will explore some of those myths and legends. You will even be able to read Bram Stoker's Dracula in your inventory after picking it up from a table. The game developer explores some of the more obscure events and myths that we know so little about in his story.
Count Dracula is an evil creature who needs to feed on human blood to remain immortal. Night and darkness are his world. As a bat, he hunts for his next victim, prey that he will kill to quench his thirst for blood. Maybe you will be lucky, and he will spare you. Or maybe you will become one of his servants. You might even become like him and live forever killing humans in order to survive for eternity.
The brief opening cutscene is completely disturbing and plays on one of our most deep-seated fears. It sets the stage for the game to come perfectly. You may ask yourself, "What the hell was that about?" Later in the game the meaning of the cutsene will become clear.
Graphics and Gameplay
Dracula 3, The Path of the Dragon is a first person point and click adventure game. By pressing the right mouse button you can access the inventory system where you can see the all the books, letters and images you have picked up during the gameplay. In each panel there is a scrolling bar you can use to see titles of the documents and the objects before you select the one you want. In the same panel on the top left side of the inventory box, you can access the main menu where you can change the options, save or load a game, etc.
The game has a fully panoramic environment allowing you to explore in all directions. Most of the 2D scenery takes place during night time, making the game dark and spooky. You will be walking alone in Vladoviste, a city devastated by bombing, the cemetery where you can wander among the headstones and read them, and the mountains where Dracula's castle sits. Fog, darkness, shadows and light are very effectively used. The 3D characters each have their own particular habits. Maria plays with her hair and rolls her eyes; Ozana is always cleaning a speck of dirt from the counter; Janos scatches his neck and yawns and Ionel throws his coin in the air and catches it. As you can see, the characters do not stand immobile while you are talking to them. There are even a few bats hanging around upside down and spying on you
The inventory system is very simple to use. Every object you take is piled into a single box on the top right of the screen. You then need to transfer them into individual boxes on the left side of the screen.
The cursor changes to indicate what you need to do in an area or interact with an object. Many of the documents and the Bible are written in Latin. They will automatically be translated by scrolling over an area. Speaking of the Bible, although there were many things underlined to read, they didn't help either of us with the game at all. There is a bit of pixel hunting, but most things are easy to find and pick up.
Every painting, letter or document you look at or pick up in the game appears in the documents section of the inventory box. You can scroll down the list and pick up the item you want and read it or look at it by clicking on it. The item will be enlarged for you to view. There is also an arrow that permits you to switch from one document to another. We liked how you could use the magnifier and mouse over things to see them better. Your game objectives also appear in the objectives section of the inventory box.
It's important to know that although you can die in the game, your game will load back to just before you died, and you will have a chance to try again. If you die, a laughing skull appears. It was the most forced laugh we've ever heard and was quite annoying. There had to be a more genuine evil laugh out there somewhere.
The opening cutscene and Father Arno's dream sequences are very interesting and add to the mystery in the game.
The game has an excellent variety of puzzles. Some were quite easy and others were mildly or very challenging. There were two blood testing puzzles which were long and boring. One would have been more than enough.
There are some drawings you must do on stone blocks, a chemical puzzle, some word find puzzles, and a puzzle involving a photography darkroom. During a trip you take to Budapest, you will have to find a series of books using a small clue written in blood by a victim. There are also some inventory based puzzles and a great three color tile puzzle where you will need to reproduce a drawing that you have seen. Most of the puzzles are well integrated into the story, and if you need a reminder in a document or a clue, you can go into your inventory to refresh your memory.
Interesting facts about the game
- After installation the game is playable without the CD.
- Well thought out inventory panel, very easy to use.
- Well animated characters.
- There are many saved game slots available.
Dialogue and Sound
There is a lot of dialogue, most of which is very important, so don't skip too much of it. There is also quite a bit to read with most of it very interesting. You will learn many little-known things about our favorite vampire and about Vlad Tepes, an historical figure on whom Dracula is based.
The sound effects are outstanding. You will hear foot steps, bats, pigeons warbling, dogs barking, and doors squeaking. Father Arno becomes winded after climbing stairs, and his heart pounds in stressful situations. The sound effects were thought out very carefully and really helped make the game more enjoyable and spooky.
The familiar voice of David Gasman, who gave his voice to Jonathan Harker in Dracula Resurrection and Dracula The Last Sanctuary , also is the voice of Father Moriani in Dracula 3 .
The music was great. Of course it is dark and forbidding and helped to build the atmosphere of fear and dread in the game. Strings and horns were used in all the right places.
Bugs and/or patches
We didn't encounter any bugs.
Windows 98, 2000, XP and Vista
800 Mhz Intel Pentium III
128 MB Ram
4 GB available Hard Drive space
16X DVD-ROM drive
64 MB DirectX 9.0c Compatible Graphics Video Card
DirectX 9 - Compatible Sound Card
DirectX 9 - Compatible Keyboard and Mouse
Danyboy's computer specifications:
OS: Windows Vista SP1
RAM: 2 X 288Go
Processor: Intel (R) Core (TM) 2 Duo 3.00 Go
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT
Sound: Onboard Sound Controlle
Disk space: 1st 226Go and 2nd 268 Go
Draclvr's computer specifications:
OS: Windows XP SP2
RAM: 2 GB
Processor: Intel P4 @ 3.0 Ghtz with hyperthreading
Video card: Nvidia GeForce 7600GT
Sound: Realtek AC'97 Audio
Disk space: 160 GB
The game was every bit as good as we expected with great graphics and interesting characters who each had his/her own personality. The outstanding sound effects, music and graphics make the familiar story of Dracula even more intriguing. Unfortunately, although this is a game about vampires, we don't see much of them during the game. We kept thinking it would have been great to see some of Dracula's henchmen or have a few cutscenes showing Dracula watching our progress and reacting to us figuring out the Path of the Dragon.
If you like puzzles, this is the game for you. There are familiar puzzles, puzzles with a brand new twist on an old theme, and some really mind-bending puzzles. They will definitely put your puzzling skills to the test.
We would have liked a few more really scary places to go. The dark shed behind Maria's house and the basement below it were perfect, and a few more places like this would have raised more hair on the backs of our necks.
We enjoyed every minute of it; the length of the game is long enough (between 10 to 14 hours depending on if you read most of the things you picked up during the gameplay or on how challenging the puzzles will be for you).
So, long life to Dracula and his acolytes and long life to the ones standing in his path and fighting evil. We do think that Dracula 3: The Path Of The Dragon will be among the favorite games this year, at least it is among ours. The ending definitely leaves room for another sequel.