Ah, we meet again my dear Mr. Dracula, at least that is what I presume from the title Dracula: Path Of The Dragon – Part 1. There is actually a lack of vampires in this first part of three starring Father Arno Moriani. As Father Moriani you have traveled by train to Transylvania to investigate a saint in the making. To be canonized by the Catholic Church certain standards have to be met, and it is up to you to find out if the saint is saintly good.
Dracula: Path Of The Dragon is a 3d point and click adventure where you have total freedom to look around you. There are not many objects or individuals to interact with. Red arrows show destinations you can walk to by clicking, and red gears show people you can interact with. The limited amount of puzzles(three) that is available also use the gears or white squares to interact with.
The story of Dracula: Path Of The Dragon is heavily inspired by the Bram Stoker view of vampires, and Dracula. The story is told in dialogue with both written text, and voiceovers. Most people you interact with give you a couple of optional questions, and you can ask them all so there is no need to prioritize. The game is rather dark, and I understand why as it is a horror adventure. Still the darkness makes the game quite dull to me, and reading the dark text against the dark yellow becomes tiring.
Gameplay consists of trying to find your way around the small Transylvanian town, and even though there are only 5 places to go it is really easy to get lost. If the game had a minimap it would easily be completed within 30 minutes. Now it takes double that time as I run back, and forth trying to find new things to interact with. The lack of things to do is really hurting the game. At the inn you can call on a phone to contact people you have acquired the number to. A couple of objects show the interaction gear, but you won’t be able to actually use them until the second or third part of the trilogy.
With only a minor amount of puzzles demanding zero to no skill it is hard to really view this as a puzzle game at all. There is no fighting, no quicktime events and no inventory management of interest. Dracula: Path Of The Dragon is a shallow game with a lot of graphical polish. It is a shame as the production values are some of the best I have seen so far exceeding even Myst in the genre. But where Myst is a puzzling mysterious game, Dracula is just a walking around kind of game.
Father Arno Moriani is a patient boring priest, and hopefully his character develops further on as well. He takes abuse, and threats in a truly Christian manner, and I would like him to be a bit eccentric or strange. Perhaps he could go up to his room and whip himself or something. Most characters leave me totally uninspired, and they aren’t eccentric enough. Heck, a gravedigger in Transylvania should be delirious or at least weird Gollum style.
Dracula: The Path Of The Dragon is a horror game, but I have yet to be scared by it. Sure there is a video sequence showing a nightmare of Father Moriani that is in the right direction. The game is more about setting a scene than jumping at you with blatant horror. The atmosphere of haunting evil gets spoiled when the player runs around lost in the town.
The price asked is really not too much, but I can still not recommend Dracula: Path Of The Dragon – Part 1 as there isn’t enough game to be found. Walking around being bored, and unchallenged by the puzzles and people in the village for an hour is not my cup of tea. I would rather have a full fledged game with all three parts included at a higher price as it wouldn’t feel so short and shallow. Hopefully the sequels will have more for the player to do, and it would be nice to see some vampires soon as well.