Dracula Resurrection, by DreamCatcher Games
Posted: 13-May-2002

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: DreamCatcher Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: GAMES

Dracula Resurrection (DR) is an adventure game involving an original story based on the characters from Bram Stoker's Dracula novel. In terms of game engine, this is a cross-breed between Myst and RealMyst. Like Myst, you progress through the game by moving from one scene to the next. Like RealMyst, once you are in a particular scene, you can turn around, look up and down, and point and click on objects. The game uses Phoenix VR technology to establish this 360 degree panaroma experience.

System Requirements

  • System 8.51 (or later)
  • 32 MB available ram (64 form Virtual Memory/64 MB recommended)
  • 6 MB 3D Video Card (openGL compatible)
  • 8 X CD Rom Drive

DR also provides some cinematic quality cut-scenes, some of which are more interesting than others. For example, when luring the man on the bridge away from his post, a cut scene is played showing him running to the Inn. The movie is entertaining with some excellent and eerie background music, all adding to the atmosphere and ambience of the game. On the other hand, there are some cut scenes (like walking down or up stairs) which don't add a whole lot to the game; in fact, after seeing it a few times, it actually becomes an annoying delay. Fortunately, you can press the space bar to interrupt any cut scene.

When looking at objects in the game, the cursor changes shape to let you know when you can either pick up an object, or perform an action on the object. There was a lot of detail added to the scenes in this game, which also meant that there are a lot of interesting objects that you want to do something with, but most of the time you cannot. For example, I really wanted to explore the attic in the Inn, and many of the objects seemed like they could prove useful. The engine is somewhat limited in what objects you can use, and I found that of all the items in the attic, there was really not much I was able to work with.

As with most adventure games, DR is filled with tasks which you must perform in order to proceed through the game. Some of these tasks make sense (such as scaring birds to distract a man with noise), and some of them are not so intuitive. Of the non-intuitive tasks, the problems I found were that they either just didn't make a whole lot of sense, or the interface was not consistent thereby making you think you couldn't do something. An example of the latter is when I wanted to cut a rope to drop an object. Looking at the rope, the cursor never changed, leading me to believe it was another object that just looked interesting, but one that I could not interact with. After spending a whole lot of time retracing steps, and re-exploring areas that I had visited several times already, I discovered that I could cut the rope, but only after something had taken place. In other places in the game where an action needs to take place before another action can be conducted, there is an indication of this using a red circle around the cursor. In this one particular case, however, there was never an indication. This small inconsistency led to hours of frustration.

As stunning as I found the 2D and 3D graphics in each scene, I also found inconsistency between movement and scene representation. For example, on the outside of the Inn, when walking towards the well, you can visually see a direct path to where you want to go, no obstructions, no reason to think you cannot walk that direction. Yet, the cursor never changed into a "movement" arrow, leading you to believe you cannot move there. However, if you walk to the left towards the Inn, you could then face where you wanted to go, and now, all of a sudden, you are able to get there. There were quite a few of these situations which I discovered through game play. This inconsistency leads you to spending a lot of time spinning around everywhere you go to make sure you don't miss a path which may only be reachable from a certain spot.

One of the strongest aspects of the game, and the one element which encouraged me to persist despite my frustrations, is the eerie and gothic feel to the adventure. The ambient background noises and haunting music coupled with an engaging storyline really pulled me into the game. The story unfolds as you explore and as you talk with the characters in the game. Even the characters, each in their own way, are downright spooky (and the effect is enhanced with cinematic movies when engaged in conversation).

The game is not without its flaws. As alluded to earlier, the are so many objects in each scene, that it is often difficult to find the one object that you can actually do something with. There is no visual appearance difference, so you have to put the cursor over nearly everything until it changes into an action cursor. You could be in a room full of rocks and boards, and only one rock or one board will be the one you can pick up (and they may all be the same sizes). You also have to be careful because sometimes the hot spots are not accurate over the object. On the deck outside the Inn, you can drop down a hole, but the cursor does not change into a movement cursor when placed over any portion of the hole. It changed only when placed over half of the hole, and also changed when placed on the wall near the hole (as if the hot spot region was displaced by the radius of the hole).

I also discovered some problems with using objects. For example, when I had the tarnished medal, I talked to the witch to get the medal polished. Although the medal in my inventory now showed as being polished, the medal in my hand was still tarnished and could not be used (even though it was the same medal). I had to actually re-choose the medal from my inventory to get it to work.

While the above is a minor bug, I also ran across a major bug which caused me to trash a saved game and return to an earlier saved game. In Dracula's bedroom is a ball. My first visit there I activated the ball, but I did not grab it. I returned to the witch without it, but because I had activated the stand the ball was on, it showed up as a subject that the witch would discuss. The problem is that after she discussed it, all of a sudden I had it in my inventory. Apparently this premature appearance of the ball in my inventory confused the game engine as well as myself. I was never able to use the ball after that point (not to mention some other odd behaviors such as the cursor not changing on the door back into the castle even though it allowed me to click the door to enter through it). I had to return to an earlier saved game, and this time I picked up the ball before talking to the witch. After that, everything worked fine.

Speaking of saved games, DR only allows you four saved games. I would have preferred to have more than just four slots to save a game. It is more typical for games to provide numerous saved game slots. Had all my four slots been scenes after the "ball bug", I would have had to start the game from the very beginning.

My last beef with the game is with the requirement to have the CD inserted. While this is a practice used by several games, it is still annoying to be required to have the CD inserted when you have enough disk space to run the game from your hard disk. When dealing with a game you may be playing for awhile, you like to be able to start it up at will. Having to leave the CD in the drive means suffering through the typical Mac OS slowdowns when the OS decides to spin up the drive for no apparent reason. DR is also a 2-CD set, so when you make it to the second half of the game, you are playing off of the 2nd CD. Unfortunately, when you exit the game and then go back to play again, you are forced to remove the 2nd CD and insert the 1st CD to start up the game, then remove the 1st CD and insert the 2nd CD to continue where you left off. Argh!

Summary
Although I experienced a lot of frustrations with this game, it is worth noting that despite these frustrations I wanted to continue. The story and the ambience is that good. With excellent sound effects and awesome mood-setting music combined with awesome panaromic scenes and spooky animated cut-scenes, Dracula Resurrection truly immerses you into its story. On the other hand, the negatives of the game engine cannot be ignored. With movement and object inconsistencies coupled with a few bugs, limited saved games, and annoying CD insertions, the frustrations may be more than you bargained for. Then again, at a retail price of $14.95 (cheaper than many shareware products), I have to recommend this game for any adventure game lover.

Pros:

  • Awesome sound effects and haunting music for gothic ambience
  • Beautiful panoramic views and entertaining animated cut-scenes
  • Engaging characters and storyline

Cons:

  • Movement and object inconsistencies and bugs
  • Limited number of saved games
  • Annoying CD insertion requirements


Overall Rating:

3 1/2 out of 5 Mice