Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Kheops Studios

Publisher:   Encore-Microids

Released:  August 2008

PC Requirements:   98/2000/XP/Vista, 800 Mhz Intel Pentium III,  128 MB Ram,  4 GB available Hard Drive space, 16X DVD-ROM drive, 64 MB DirectX 9.0c Compatible Graphics Video Card, DirectX 9 - Compatible Sound Card, Keyboard and Mouse


Additional Screenshots




by flotsam



Bram Stoker’s Dracula didn’t invent the vampire legend, but it certainly gave it literary life. Anyone familiar with the book will be aware that the story is built up by using diary extracts, letters, telegrams, newspaper articles, medical reports and the like. Various perspectives are also present, through the journals of Jonathan and Mina Harker, Dr. Seward and Lucy Westenra.

It’s appropriate, therefore, that the novel features in The Path of the Dragon, both literally and figuratively. Not only do you get your own copy (inside the game world), but by the end of the game you will have sifted a litany of letters, notes, pamphlets, diaries, photos, drawings and artworks (some of which I recognised) to complete the many trials that eventually lead to the end of the aforementioned Path.  

It’s not a unique approach in an adventure game; many inventories contain such things. But it suits the potpourri of real and imagined events, fact and legend, that make up the game. I also thought it was a nice homage to the Stoker tradition. Or perhaps that was me reading too much into it. Whichever -- in keeping with the style, you now get a little homage of my own.


Arno Moriani’s Journal (in Latin) 16 September 1920, Vladivoste Station

The train arrived on time and I have taken a moment to reflect and to pray. I have been sent to investigate a sainthood, but it seems unlikely that I will find one here. But the saintly do inhabit the unlikeliest of places. The destruction I saw from the carriage windows, and which I can see has touched this place, is perhaps deserving of something miraculous, but that must not cloud my judgement. I must enter the town and begin, but it is quiet here at the station, and once begun, the Promotor Fidei is a heavy mantle. So for just a while longer I will sit, and simply be a priest.

From “Monte Saptamanal: 1919” – regional newspaper

The Castle of Twilight overlooking the town of Vladivoste is the only memorable feature of this region. The town is charming enough, in its rustic way, but suffered from the war. It now seems flat and lifeless, an impression that most travellers through the region will not be able to dispel wherever they go. The people though retain their optimism and by contrast with their surroundings seem larger than life, although there are few of them.

Arno Moriani’s Journal (in Latin) 17 September, Vladivoste Inn

The night terrors came again. Will I ever be rid of them? The boundary between heaven and hell seems fleeting at times like these. At least this time I was not suffocating, but who was that woman?

My day yesterday was a gentle one, almost peaceful, but I expect things will become more difficult. I must be about my tasks at once!

Notes – Stephan Luca (in shorthand)

Met with Father A. He remains sceptical. Gave him the documents. Will he help me? Will try again – a priest would be a powerful ally.

Medical Notes – Dr. Martha Calugarul

Patient exhibited anaemia. Transfusion gives only temporary improvement. P anomaly present in blood. Haematoma and bruising on neck.

Dissertations sur les Apparitions des Anges, des Demons et des Esprits, et sur les Revenants et Vampires - Dom Augustin Calmet, 1746

The name given to these ghosts is Oupires, or Vampires, that is to say blood-suckers, and the particulars which are related of them are so singular, so detailed, accompanied with circumstances so probable and so likely, as well as with the most weighty and well-attested legal deposition that it seems impossible not to subscribe to the belief which prevails in those countries that these Apparitions do actually come forth from their graves and that they are able to produce the terrible effects which are so widely and so positively attributed to them.

“Tower of Babel” Pieter Brueghel (Elder) c: 1563

Oil on panel 114 × 155 cm Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Arno Moriani’s Journal (in Latin) 17 September, train from Budapest

To think I set out to find a saint, but now seek to reaffirm what Pope Benedict denounced almost 200 years ago after the Calmet dissertation. That people still speak of vampires in this enlightened time surprises me.

As I suspected, my takes become more difficult. My training as a medic enabled me to complete the blood tests yesterday, but my skills were rusty. Trial and error eventually triggered the knowledge – thank goodness it was only my own arm! And thank goodness my mind remains sharp.

It will need to be. The documents and information I carry become more voluminous by the day, and my research will reveal many more. Keeping them organised is a task, but my system of cataloguing makes it manageable. I will need to spend time tagging those that are useful and discarding those that are useless, but I must exercise care. Much which seems unimportant may eventually be the key.

I will review my notes of my conversations while I travel. Though lengthy, they may help me interpret what Prof. Irina just told me. Thule, the Lords of Twilight, hidden messages in sacred art – and the Path of the Dragon and Vlad Tepes. If only I could organise my notes like my documents!

I will make a list too of my next steps. I must talk again with Janos and Stephan, and check my mail. This lists keeps me focused amidst the confusion.

 And I must pray.

Description of Vlad Tepes by Nicolas of Modrussa, papal legate to Pope Pius II (1458-64)

He was not very tall, but very stocky and strong, with a cruel and terrible appearance, a long straight nose, distended nostrils, a thin and reddish face in which the large wide-open green eyes were enframed by bushy black eyebrows, which made them appear threatening. His face and chin were shaven but for a moustache. The swollen temples increased the bulk of his head. A bull's neck supported the head, from which black curly locks were falling to his wide-shouldered person.

From “The Lords of Twilight or Fulfilment of the Race” - excerpt (date unknown)

The Path of the Dragon is an initiatory journey which offers to the human being who undertakes it the chance to transcend his condition in order to join the lords. Marked by trials along the way…it offers immortality and the power to live beyond the grace of god.

Arno Moriani’s Journal (in Latin) 18 September, Vladivoste Inn

There is no longer any doubt. I must follow the Path of the Dragon until the end and destroy the evil that I will find there.

“The vampiric epistolary” – excerpt from thesis (undated and unattributed)

The Kostova novel is not a true example of the epistolic form, but through the infusion of letters and notes perhaps we see an example of the genesis of the form. It also uses excerpts from different time periods, requiring the reader to look simultaneously and reflectively at events as the narrative develops.

Stoker’s Dracula is a more conventional example, but its use in other forms is not always as conventional. For example, when Maria gives Father Arno a copy in Path of the Dragon, a computer game from a few years ago, not only does it shed light on the legend, it illuminates (were it necessary) the extent to which Arno must look within his own collection of documents and writings to discover what he seeks.

“St. Sebastian” - Andrea Mantegna: 1480

Oil on Canvas, 255 x 140 cm Musee de Louvre, Paris. Originally part of the Altar of San Zeno, Verona

Arno Moriani’s Journal (in Latin) 18 September, train from Urguyurt

I now know the first trial of the Path, but have yet to find the place to begin. I am becoming impatient; why must there always be obstacles in the way? Yet I am sure that I am slowly gaining the knowledge I need, so I must be patient.

There is foreboding all around me now. It is so palpable, I can almost hear it; a musical accompaniment plucking the very mood from the walls and the sky. I must not let my imagination get the better of me; my wits are what I need, not fancy.

I have a confession. I have ceased turning to the bible for inspiration. It keeps trying to speak to me from within my cache of documents, but I can no longer understand its voice. Perhaps I am changing.

I almost fear the things I must do. If I perish, will I be reborn? I believe that I will. Someone wants me to succeed. But is it my God, or someone else? I don’t know anymore.

Arno Moriani’s Journal (in Latin) 19 September, the 7 pillars (location unknown)

I sit before the 7 pillars, the last of the trials on the Path. I feel the need to pause, as I did before this all started.

I think about what I have done. It was hard, and more than once I feared I would fail. Yet it excited me, and it challenged me, and it kept me going.

Was I frightened? Not by the events, but I have indeed changed, and that frightens me. If I have understood what has happened, I will soon stand before the Master, and be judged. That too frightens me.  Will I have the strength to do what I know I must?

His Path was almost too long, too much after what had come before, and relentless, but I made it. I have an idea of what I must do to complete the final trial, but I have much need to think. The pieces are all with me, but it will take some time to sift them from their mundane surroundings and put them together correctly.

I will pray, and then I will get started.

From “Monte Saptamanal: 1933” – regional newspaper

The discovery of a manuscript has recently shed some light on mysterious events which occurred in our local region just after the end of the war. The so-called MaGtRo Walkthrough describes in great detail what at times seem the almost impossible solutions to a series of conundrums faced by one Father Arno. Father Arno was connected to the disappearance of a local doctor, although nothing more is known.

Whatever the father might have been involved in, the new manuscript makes it clear he must have been a clever man. He faced many challenges, and from the smallest clues was seemingly able to move forward. Whilst it seems his challenges arrived one at a time, the necessary bits and pieces to their solution would have escaped the notice of many. Some are diabolically clever, seemingly random until examined anew. Only the final judgement appears to escape logical resolution; whether Father Arno found that disappointing will never be known.



Whatever Father Arno felt, I thought the final puzzle was a big letdown. In fact, I had to pause a few days and reflect before finalising this review.

The final taste in your mouth is important, especially if, as here, you are setting things up for a sequel. Indeed, maybe the little cutscene at the end was intended to be a digital mouthwash.

Path of the Dragon does the good things really well, does most things to a perfectly acceptable standard, and does some things less than it could. The puzzles, and there are lots of them, the inventory management and the music are all in the first category. So too the animation of the characters, many with their own little mannerisms (watch the good doctor fiddle with her hair), and the attention to ambient detail (the rising heart beat, the breathlessness when climbing a hill).

The plot I put in the second category, especially the subplot, along with the visual world (it’s a little flat) and the voice acting generally, although some voices are a notch higher. Father Arno though didn’t convince me. It needed better puzzle balance too; too many at the back, too few at the front. I accept that the path itself was always going to be a succession of trials, but the rest could have been evened out more. By comparison with the last third, the start is almost pedestrian. Not every puzzle or conundrum is totally logical either (a couple in particular are mostly trial and error) but they don’t need to be.

Some more characters would have been good, especially more Vlad. If I play something called Dracula, I want Dracula. The vampire-ness in this game lurked in the shadows, but never quite showed enough of itself.

The last category? The final puzzle and the dialogue management, both by comparison. Most of the puzzles are hard but subtly crafted, and inventory management is awesome – so the failings in these things shine.

So looking back, I was a little disappointed. But reflecting on other games I have played recently, and on what we look for in adventure games, it really was quite good.

  • Challenging mix of logical puzzles and situation conundrums

  • Somewhat unbalanced, the last third becoming a little overwhelming puzzle-wise

  • Steady start lets you settle in

  • Superb inventory management system

  • Intriguing mix of real and fictional events and persons

  • Storyline a little messy, and the subplot seems too contrived

  • Disappointing final puzzle, unworthy of what went before

  • Stunning sound track

  • Can die, but will be automatically “reborn” just prior to the fatal event

  • Fairly large information dump of who did what prior to the end

  • Character animation excellent, great cutscenes and generally good voice acting

  • All dialogue reviewable, but builds to about 200 pages that can only be gone through one page at a time

  • Detailed game world, if a little flat

  • Point and click first person perspective

  • Cursor fixed in centre of screen, and scene pans 360 degrees around it as you move the mouse

  • Game loads quickly and no glitches or bugs experienced


August 2008

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