Dracula: Origin





Genre:  Classic Horror

Type:  3rd Person Point & Click

Developer:  Frogwares

Publisher:  The Adventure Company, Focus

Released: June 2008

Minimum Requirements:  See end of review

Walkthrough  Walkthrough

Additional Screenshots





by Inferno


“Do you believe in destiny?

 That even the powers of time can be altered for a single purpose?

 That the luckiest man who walks upon this earth is the one who finds...

 True love?”

One of my favorite stories has to be Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel: Dracula. A gothic tale of an antihero, told through diary entries and letters of a young barrister, Jonathan Harker. Frogwares has once again taken up the reins of a work of classic literature and transformed it into an entertaining adventure full of the macabre. While this is not a verbatim interactive work, much of the plot is gleaned from Stoker’s original novel. This adventure possesses a refreshing new twist in its retelling. It is imparted to the gamer solely through the viewpoint of Professor Abraham Van Helsing: Vampire Hunter Extraordinaire.

The title of this game, for some, may be slightly misleading. Dracula: Origin doesn’t allow the gamer to observe the events of Count Dracula’s early life. Instead, the gamer assumes the guise of Professor Van Helsing as he probes Dracula’s past and fights for the life of Jonathan Harker’s fiancée, Mina. Is discovering the whys and wherefores of Dracula’s original transformation as intriguing as being bitten on the neck and living to tell the tale? Will Van Helsing continue to view this “dark angel” as an abomination, unclean and undead? Or will he begin to show empathy for Dracula as a wayward soul driven mad by loss and betrayal? These are the possibilities which shine through in this version of the Dracula legend.

Dracula: Origin takes many liberties with the classic tale, and these work well. The adventure takes place in four sections in the game universe, encompassing two major European cities, the Transylvanian countryside and Egypt. Now what (you may ask) would Dracula have to do with ancient Egyptian culture? Have you read “The Book of the Dead” lately? No? Tsk, tsk – pity. I found that Egypt worked superbly with the storyline and made perfect sense, giving the game an added, clever dimension.

The graphics are hauntingly beautiful. The look is sleek, using a dark palette, with a blue overwash for an ethereal quality and jewel tones for shock value, including plenty of red -- a perfect setting for high gothic melodrama.

The game environments include your basic Victorian interiors for Mina’s apartments, plus a delightfully morose, abandoned estate representing Carfax Abbey from the original novel (although in the game it is known by a different name: Godalming Manor). This is the Manor house which Harker helped Dracula to purchase in London. It is replete with a familiar butler with a penchant for edible delicacies (there for the amusement of longtime Drac fans). Attached to the estate is a truly atmospheric graveyard, filled with statues of martyred angels and a sinister crawling mist. A mist that carries itself forth over two continents; spreading virulence in its wake…ultimately pointing the way to Count Dracula's crumbling, remote castle. This "Cetatea Lui Negru Vodă" or “Citadel of the Black Prince” stands in mystical defiance near the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania and Moldavia, an area steeped in blood and tumultuous history.

“Listen to them:

The children of the night…

What sweet music they make!”

Dracula: Origin evokes a strong sense of apprehension in the player, suggesting a constant threat just around the corner. The dark, moody music adds measurably to this effect. However for me, the game’s atmosphere was significantly degraded when -- well I’m not going to tell you when. All I am going to say is: keep an eye on your inventory. I was flabbergasted that a man of the Professor’s age and bearing could carry a particular item around with him in his briefcase. I laughed until tears came; it took awhile to re-immerse myself in the game’s atmosphere of suspense and dread.

The voiceovers are, for the most part, well done. There was only one voice which grated on the ear because it was so annoyingly high pitched and sounded like Queen Victoria from a previous Sherlock Holmes adventure. Van Helsing’s voice was enjoyably on target, as was the little that I heard from the frustratingly elusive Count Dracula.

“Drive on!

Drive on…like the Devil”

I had no trouble whatsoever installing, running, saving, or loading Dracula: Origin. I noticed however, that the Alt+ Tab did not work in various places, which for me is a definite minus. The game provided approximately fifteen to twenty hours of gameplay. The basic interface is identical to that of the Sherlock Holmes games (also developed by Frogwares), and includes functions for Inventory, Reports, Dialogue and Documents. Right click to see it all; right click to get back into the game. I say -- if it works, keep it. However, for Dracula: Origin, the 3D graphics and the option to use keyboard controls and 360 degree panning have given way to 2.5D, third person perspective, and point-and-click controls. Despite the move to 2.5D, the game plays and feels much like the Sherlock Holmes games, with detailed Victorian-era graphics, a solid story and intricately designed, mind-bending puzzles.

There isn’t an awe-inspiring end confrontation in Dracula: Origin, and there are no serious setbacks or dead ends. The game gives plenty of hints if one takes the time to read through all of the documents and reports. Everything is there at the player’s fingertips. The storyline moves along in an effortless, uninterrupted fashion. Never once did I feel that I was lost. Hitting the spacebar reveals all the hot spots if you want to eliminate pixel hunting – this smoothes the game’s progress even further.

The puzzles are the true masterpiece here. There are inventory items that must be gathered, color coding and selective matching challenges, mechanical puzzles, combination locks -- even a musical puzzle that you can solve without music, and a hieroglyph-deciphering challenge. There is a range of puzzle difficulty – from simple combinations in inventory or pixel pickups, to moderately difficult challenges, and on to some real mind benders. All were quite enjoyable and left me wanting more. 

“I give you life eternal.

 Everlasting love. The power of the storm.

 And the beasts of the earth.

Walk with me...


Dracula: Origin is an adventure gamer’s dream. You can’t die, and you won’t encounter mazes, timed sequences, or slider puzzles. You will be challenged by lots of varied and satisfying brain teasers and see plenty of dramatic cut scenes. The horror is embedded in the atmosphere of sight and sound; it plays on the gamer’s natural psychological fear of what is yet to come. Although there are intense scenes filled with blood and gore, I feel that Adventure purists will love it.

I do have to say however, that in a game about Dracula, I personally would have liked to have seen some player death possibilities -- even a timed chase or two…through a mist-enshrouded maze…with a big slider puzzle of Vlad the Impaler at the end. Ok, I’m just kidding but I would have liked an option to use the keyboard if I wished (again just my own preference). All the action in Dracula: Origin takes place in the cut scenes, so the players can take as long as necessary to explore the universe at their own level.

I did like the ending. Can one really want to vanquish a misunderstood “bad boy” whose attraction for susceptible females is his aura of exoticism and danger? Perhaps one shouldn’t try…. The ending also left me with some unanswered questions. Where did Professor Van Helsing live and teach? Didn’t Dr. Watson study abroad at the University in Amsterdam? It looks to this reviewer as though a sequel may turn out to be “elementary.”

Quotes: taken from the novel by Bram Stoker

Grade: B+


OS: Windows XP Sp2 / Vista

Processor: 1.5 GHz Pentium 4/ Athlon XP 1500+

Video Card: 128 MB DirectX 9 compliant video card

Free Hard Disk Space: 2.5 GB

RAM: 512MB

Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compliant


Keyboard & Mouse

Played on:

OS: Microsoft Windows XP Home SP 2

CPU: Pentium D 950 3.4GHz 800MHz


Video: BFG nVidia Geforce 7600GT OC 256MB 128bit

Sound: SoundBlaster Audigy


SONY DRU 820A DVD+RW/+R/RAM/cd 8.5GB 16x8x8x16x6x6x5x Dual Layer/Double Layer

Monitor: Northgate 20' Flat Panel Monitor

DirectX Version: 9.0c

June 2008

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