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Review: Dracula Origin - PC

by Steven Williamson on 17 June 2008, 16:05

Tags: Ascaron's Dracula Origin PC Game, Ascaron, Action/Adventure

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Point-and-click Gothic adventure

While some developers have managed to break the heavily-set point-and-click adventure mould and fuse logical and stimulating puzzles with a competent story-line, many still try to be a little too clever for their own good. Elaborate puzzles have long been part and parcel of the whole point-and-click experience and while many of them may seem ingenious to their creator, to the general gamer or anyone who doesn’t have an IQ on a par with Professor Stephen Hawking, they’re just far too difficult to solve and often totally illogical to boot.

Dracula Origin, the latest point-and-click from Sherlock Holmes developer Frogwares, boasts a mixture of both the positive and negative aspects of many point-and-click adventures.

On one hand, there’s nothing new. It bears all the hallmarks of a hundred and one adventures of this ilk, with the usual locations to explore: a spooky church, an old cemetery, a well-stocked library that holds dark secrets within the pages of its books, a museum ladened with mysterious artifacts and of course dozens of puzzles to solve, from cracking codes to combining inventory items. However, on the other hand, it positively shines with its captivating story and well-refined visual and audio appeal.

The puzzles in Dracula Origin aren’t illogical as such, not to the extent that you’ll find in some adventures, but many of them are stupidly difficult to crack. I’ve played a fair few of difficult point-and clicks over the years, but Dracula Origin made me feel like I was a bit,well, thick. This is down to the deluge of bamboozling, cryptic and often incomprehensible puzzles as well as the voice that blasts out of the speakers with the demoralising word ‘useless’ every time I combined an item incorrectly with another. Give me a break. I’m not useless; the designers are just too damn clever.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Frogware’s pedigree in the genre is unquestionable in Dracula Origin and it can be seen in the game’s solid presentation, strong visuals and in-depth, yet comprehensible and absorbing story-line that lives up to its billing of being an exciting Gothic adventure full of romance, mystery and terror.

Playing the game from the third-person perspective you take the role of Professor Van Helsing who has spent all his life in the hope that he will one day hunt down and kill Dracula. The blood-thirsty vampire is on the hunt for a manuscript that “allegedly details a rite which brings damned souls back from the beyond.” It’s your job to stop him from achieving his goal.

The 2D gothic-styled locations, such as the Mausoleum, Manor houses and Dracula’s castle itself are expertly crafted and finely designed. The game also has a decent musical score that helps to bring to life Bram Stoker’s world. Sadly though, the game-play just doesn’t live up to the game’s glossy exterior and in-depth tale.

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