Game: Dracula: Resurrection
There’s a lot been said about the death of the adventure game genre, and it’s all nonsense. Adventure games were never dead. It did, however, go through quite a prolonged period of sickness. It was once a strong, healthy genre, thriving with regular releases from publishers such as Lucasarts and Sierra. Later in life, it started to become ill, and the releases of quality games became less frequent. It showed all signs of being a terminal illness, hence the rumours of its demise. As with any such disease, it had its good days, where it managed to produce the likes of The Longest Journey, but most of the time it could do nothing but cough up a seemingly infinite stream of Cryo games. Later, the genre began to make a gradual recovery, and its antibodies began to fight back and neutralised Cryo, sending the company out of business, and the good games slowly started to return. Now, with Lucasarts returning to the genre, the recovery seems to be nearing completion. Get well soon, adventure! Unfortunately, this game comes from the very depth of the genres illness.
That’s enough of the dreadful extended metaphors. Let’s get down to the game. Judging by the chronology of the computer games, Dracula was pretty amazing. It seems he had his Resurrection back in 1999, nine years before his Origin in 2008. Even Jesus didn’t manage to be resurrected before his birth. Still, the Count might have wanted to keep this particular incarnation quiet, if the quality of this game is anything to judge by. Dracula: Resurrection begins 7 years after the events of Bram Stoker’s original novel, and Mina suddenly finds herself inexorably drawn back to Dracula’s castle. It appears that he has returned. This isn’t unexpected, given the game’s title. They really should have been ready for it. Jonathan Harker goes after her of course, and that’s where we step in to take control as he arrives outside an Inn.
Dracula: Resurrection is a first-person adventure game of the fixed position with 360 degree view type. In this case, you can look all around a scene including up and down, and see all the work that’s gone into the art for the game. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to actually do in most of the locations. The first half of the game takes place in the small town and you’ll spend much of the time there wandering backwards and forwards trying to find the random items they want you to pick up. The ability to rotate the view and the first person perspective allows this game to take pixel hunting to a new level of irritation as you try and scan the entire environment for that one tiny barely visible dark coloured object in one of the many otherwise empty screens of dark environments.
If you want a break from pixel hunting, then you can talk to one of the few incredibly ugly villagers in the area. There you can enjoy some rubbish dialogue read out in voice acting so bad that it would make the cast of a school nativity play look professional. During these conversations, the camera cuts rapidly to different perspectives and seems obsessed with showing horrifying close ups of the character you’re talking to. Close ups as in so close you can only see part of their face. The director probably thought it was dramatic, but really it just looks ridiculous. Maybe it’ll have more effect if you have a phobia of nostrils.
The aim of this section is basically to get rid of the henchmen that are blocking your way and find a way into Dracula’s castle. You do this by combining random objects to find the ones that the game wants you to use. It’s made harder to work anything out by the fact that when you pick something up, the game doesn’t tell you what it is, and even in the inventory screen you can’t see any sort of description of it. Half the time, I didn’t even know what the objects I was carrying were until I had actually used them. And despite the fact that there are barely any usable items in the environments, when you do actually find one it doesn’t always do what you intended. When I found a set of drawers, I logically decided to take a look inside them. So I clicked on them, only to see the lead character push them all the way across to the opposite side of the room. For no apparent reason. Of course, it was necessary later on, but I hadn’t actually discovered that yet.
The second half of the game once you actually get inside the castle plays out as more of a Myst-like game, but only over a small area of a few rooms and without any of the genre’s good qualities. You’ll spend your time tromping backwards and forwards through these rooms activating various devices by solving some vague attempts at puzzles. Mostly, it’s just a hunt for the key to open the next door which leads to a key that opens the next door, and so on. The whole section is quite straightforward and one thing generally leads straight on to the next and it’s all over pretty quickly.
All of this happens without any real hints of any storyline to the game. There’s one extremely brief cutscene in the middle of the game with Dracula intimidating some of his henchmen, and then nothing until the end of the game. Incidentally, that one cutscene is the only time Dracula actually appears in the game. I’ll put a spoiler warning for the rest of this paragraph here just in case anyone cares, but really there’s so little plot that’s it’s pretty irrelevant anyway. The game ends with Jonathan Harker rescuing Mina by flying out of the castle on a flying machine designed by Leonardo da Vinci, that Dracula just happens to have built for no good reason and then left a note lying around saying he’s left it stored in the tower, which is conveniently where you end up getting locked up in. And no, I haven’t just made that up. If that’s the only random nonsense they could come up with to end the game, I can’t believe they put any effort into the story at all. Then there’s a final video where Jonathan says how even though he’s rescued Mina, she won’t actually be safe until he’s defeated Dracula, but then the game just ends. You never even meet the title character. It seems the whole game is just an advert for the sequel.
The final insult is that the entire game was over in only a little over 3 hours. I wasn’t sure what to think of this. On the one hand, that’s way too short a length for any game. On the other hand, I have to be thankful that I didn’t have to play this nonsense any longer. Genuinely one of the worst adventure games I’ve ever played. And I’ve played a lot.
Save System Review: You can save the game anywhere you like. At least the game gets this right.
Graphics: The graphics were quite good for their time, but they’ve dated and are stuck at 640 X 480 resolution, so it doesn’t even have this going for it now.
Sound: The voice acting is hopeless but the background environmental sound effects are actually pretty good.
Bugs: I don’t think I encountered any actual bugs. In this instance, bugs may have added to the entertainment value.
Gameplay: Pixel hunting, rubbish puzzles and lots of tedious navigation through empty environments. Not the finest hour for the adventure genre.
Storyline: Virtually non-existent. Mina is trapped in Dracula’s castle. Harker goes and rescues her. The end.
Arbitrary Final Score:
If you like this, you might also like: Banging your head against a desk, gouging out your own eyeballs, the two (yes, there’s another two!) sequels to the game.
A worthwhile resurrection or should it have been left in the coffin with a stake through its heart? Discuss on the forums!