metzomagic.com Review

Dracula Resurrection

Developer:  Index
Publisher:  France Telecom Multimedia/Canal+ Multimedia/Microids
Year Released:  2000

Review by Rosemary Young (January, 2000)

dracres.jpgAs the opening credits roll by this newest resurrection of the Dracula legend flashes back to Borgo in 1897 and, with a little artistic licence, re-enacts the final pages of Stoker's classic tale. The landscape is thick with snow and Jonathan, Quincey and Mina are huddled behind a snowdrift waiting to ambush the sled that is transporting Dracula back home from England. The sled draws near and comes to a halt as shots are fired. Dracula awakens in his crate. He is immediately set upon by Quincey and Jonathan but doesn't succumb to their measly weapons. At that precise moment the sun rises over the horizon and lends a helping hand. Dracula's fate is sealed as he fizzles in a burst of flame ... or does he? Though the puncture marks fade on Mina's neck Jonathan isn't convinced that his vile foe is gone forever.

The game begins seven years later when Jonathan's worst fears are confirmed. He arrives home one evening to find Mina missing and a letter waiting for him. In her letter Mina explains how she was overcome by an irresistible urge to return to Transylvania and had no choice but to set off right away. Jonathan scribbles a note to his friend, Seward, keeping him up with the news and immediately heads off on the trail of his wife where you will direct his next hair-raising adventure. The introductory movie is excellent; crisp, clear and chilling, and the use of letters (following Stoker's original) as a story telling device altogether sets the scene for Dracula (resurrection). It's a promising beginning, and it only gets better.

Adventuring after dark
As you gain control the misty moonlight picks out the shape of the Golden Crown Inn before you and the leafless trees cast their eerie shadows across the gleaming snow. The wind whines, a real portent of danger and almost pushes you inside where you, as Jonathan, begin your quest.

Darkness is a theme of this game, you never do get to see daylight, and the graphics are exceptional, playing around with shadows and shades of black and silvery-white with smudges of muted colours. So eerie, they do an exceptional job of building up the atmosphere and are aided by an impressive, if intermittent, soundtrack and generally very good voice acting and sound effects. A creaking cupboard door in the Inn will send shivers up your spine if the characters haven't already started it a-tingling! And the character graphics have to be seen to be believed. They are superb, almost caricatures, with clearly defined features in minute detail and eyes that tell their own stories.

Controls and cursors
Dracula (resurrection) is a first person game with some third person cut scenes showing Jonathan acting out your commands. It is mouse controlled, only using one keystroke to access saving, loading, etc. The cursor changes to an arrow for movement and there are no fancy transitions, you just jump from one predetermined location to another where you can pan around in every direction. I usually skip through transitions in an adventure game anyway so this didn't hurt me one bit!

Besides an arrow, the cursor changes to a magnifying glass for close ups, a hand for taking items, gears for using objects, etc. and a right mouse click opens your inventory. All very simple and it works fine except that the 'active' area for doing things is sometimes very small meaning that it may require multiple mouse clicks to get things done. This was a little disconcerting at the start of the game, but I didn't notice it after a while. Highlighting the cursor when it was active would have solved the problem completely.

Oh dear, I've just made a complaint and I really didn't want to! But since I've made one I might as well get a few others out in the open so I can go back to being positive. Well, really the only other thing is that there are no subtitles which many players will miss and, maybe, there could have been more save game slots. Also, just to get really picky, in one scene early in the game a hot spot was missing so that I performed an action without having a clue why! I don't want to spoil things here, but you will probably know what I mean when you get to it ... and don't worry, this only happens once.

Back to pleasures
This is a most enjoyable adventure game, there is no token arcade sequence and no combat even though you leave a couple of characters behind with a good headache. The game is divided into two parts each on one CD, hence no problem with disk swapping. In the first section your objective is to find a way into Dracula's castle. Here you will meet and question a few locals in the Inn and also visit the cemetery and a small number of other eerie locations around and about. Not everyone is friendly and not every bridge is sturdy, so you need to find your own route to the castle. This part of the game is relatively straightforward and should not cause too many problems if you look around carefully and grab everything that's not nailed down. It does get more difficult, though, when you reach your goal in the second half. Here your objective is to find Mina, but doors are locked and balconies are blocked, though there are some interesting problems set and weird contraptions to operate to open secret ways. Exploring in this section harkens right back to the novel with just Jonathan pitted against the castle, only his brains more than his brawn are more important to get things done.

Just like Dracula himself this game has been well and truly kept in the dark. What a very pleasant surprise it turned out to be even though it has a familiar damsel in distress theme. It's a most enjoyable trip which isn't too difficult, but will surely entertain you all the way through. It's a game I would certainly recommend for beginners because of the way in which the problems get progressively more difficult, but don't miss out on it just because you think you're too clever J. It deserves to be a 'hit' and the popular Vampire theme could, possibly, ensnare a new wave of adventure game players. I say 'possibly' because the box covers (there are three of them) are all of the type that I would pass by in a computer game shop without a second glance. Sadly many prospective game players may miss it so be sure to search the shelves carefully.

This is a Dracula game with barely a drop of blood so from that point of view it's fine for all the family barring the very young and impressionable. Having said that, I should mention that it picks up on the Victorian notion that sexuality is synonymous with 'evil' or 'sin' so in their brief appearance the female demons display everything except their modesty.

metzomagic.com rating:  

Copyright © Rosemary Young 2000. All rights reserved.

System requirements:
Win95/98, Pentium 166 (200 recommended) 32MB RAM (64 with Win98) Video card capable of displaying thousands of colours, 16-bit sound card, 4x CD ROM drive (8x recommended).
Macintosh: Power PC OS 8 32 MB of RAM Video card Thousands of colors 16-bit sound card 3D accelerator card 4X CD-ROM drive (8X recommended).