Dracula Unleashed (DVD)


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:    Viacom International

Publisher:    ICOM (1993), Infinite Ventures (2003)

Released:   1993 (DOS version), 2002 (DVD version)

PC Requirements:    386SX 20 MHz, DOS 5.0 or later, CD ROM with 150K/second transfer rate, 4 MB RAM, 16 bit SVGA with 512K RAM or 8 bit VGA, Soundblaster compatible soundcard; DVD (2002)




by nickie


(and a long winded prologue) by nickie

             Draped in the midnight of a starless sky, the vampire sweeps into our imagination with a curious intensity, teasing us with the lure of immortality and the vague hint of the erotic forbidden. For thousands of years, man has been fascinated with the vampire, indicated by themes on pottery recovered from ancient Babylonian and Egyptian times. How has this character endured the ages, and if it has lingered so long, is there the possibility that there is a kernel of truth to be found of its existence, that is not explained away as uninformed folklore?

            Countless books have dealt with the subject, and in modern times countless movies and computer games. Without a doubt, Bram Stoker's Dracula is the best known work, and that from which most modern writers have drawn their spin offs.

            Armed with years of research into long forgotten tomes, Stoker brought the vampire to life for the masses with the character of Count Dracula. In Dracula, a British solicitor by the name of Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania at the request of the Count, in order to arrange the purchase of some English property. Dracula then journeys to England, along with a suspicious fifty coffins filled with Transylvanian soil. Dracula, being a vampire, bites the necks of Harker's fiancée Mina and her friend Lucy (who becomes one of the undead). Dr. Van Helsing, an expert on vampires, attempts to help the living, and with other hunters seek out the coffins. Many sharpened stakes later, they chase Dracula back to Transylvania, where Texan Quincy Morris drives a bowie knife through the vampire's heart, but then succumbs to wounds received from Dracula's minions.

Dracula Unleashed, the game:

"Death is such a dreadful business"

The game begins ten years after the death of Quincy Morris, December 1899, and the opening scene shows his younger brother Alexander at his grave, telling him of all he has learned in the past couple days. We then go back in time a few days to another cut scene, where Alexander Morris is visiting the exclusive Hades Club. But it is obvious to us already that there is something amiss.

"What does Hades Club mean anyway?"

"It's rather obvious. Abandon all hope ye who enter. We're in Hell, my boy."

            During the scene, Morris receives a telegram advising him that his fiancée’s father has died. At this point, game play begins. I don't think it is a spoiler to say that you become aware that you must locate and rid the world of Dracula.

            The ninety odd minutes of video used in this game are identical to the 1993 original game by the same name, but revamped with no compression or video limitations such as was necessary for the earlier release. Unable to smoothly play the ' 93 model on my computer, I was delighted that Infinity Ventures chose to bring this game back to life in DVD form. Did my enthusiasm continue throughout the game? Mine did, but I think I can say that it is not a game everyone will enjoy.


            When game play begins, you are faced with a still screen, showing a picture of Morris and various icons - a doorknob, carriage, newspaper, clock, map, telegram, bed, pen and book. Clicking on the doorknob, we can then click on the carriage icon, which shows us the locations which we can access. After choosing, you then click on the doorknob again (to enter), and a short full motion video scene occurs. After the exit from the first still screen, an additional icon appears of Dr. Van Helsing, which you can click for information on game play (or you can read the manual for the same information). The interface is simple to use, with the doorknob to enter or exit a location, the carriage to go to a location, the pen, which once clicked, will note information gained from a scene and occasionally provide clues, and the book, which brings up the main menu (to save or exit). The clock can be used to pass time, or to determine how much time was spent during the film clip (scenes may take thirty seconds of actual time, but up to four hours of game time), and the map shows the time you expend in the carriage ride going to various locations (which I didn't use).

            As you watch an FMV clip, you are introduced to new characters, provided with new locations, or given a clue to help you successfully complete the game. On occasion, you are given a new inventory item, which is placed directly into your inventory, and you can examine after the cut scene. You can replay the scene as much as you would like, before you use the doorknob icon to exit the location (with the exception of the scenes triggered by receiving a telegram, for what reason I don't know). Your task is to determine where you must go to make the story unfold smoothly. Sometimes this can be difficult. There are 150 different scenes that may be seen.

            Not only must you establish an order to the locations, you must also arrive at them in the appropriate time frame. For instance, you have to go to one location before another will appear to you, or an action to occur in the second scene. But you can't expect to arrive at someone's house at midnight when they might be sleeping, and for the appropriate action to occur. In addition, if you are unable to trigger the appropriate scenes, and too much time passes, you will be bitten on the neck by a vampiress, and you will die (game over). If you go longer than a day and a night without sleeping (bed icon) you may also die (and some of the best clues occur while you dream).

            If that didn't make things difficult enough, before you enter some locations, you must have the appropriate inventory item "in hand" (active) for the scene you need to be triggered. Some of these are simple to recognize as being needed, such as having a person's card in hand before you can send them a telegram. But there are several items where it is non intuitive that they are necessary for a location, which results in a great deal of trial and error. You may be at the right location at the right time, but without the inventory item active, the cut scene that you need will not occur. You also cannot switch inventory items during a cut scene - sometimes you can replay the scene with another item, and sometimes you can die before you can repeat the scene. All the while you have to be wary of too much time passing, which will result in your untimely death.

            Because of all this, you will most likely have to go to a saved game. You did save, didn't you? Early and often. Fortunately, the game allows you to save at any point outside of a cut scene. Unfortunately, the save system is a small puzzle in itself, but more like an open book exam. Because the game is not actually installed, but playing from the DVD, to save the game you are shown a series of pictures, more pictures as go further into the game, and you must take note of them. To reload a save, you must identify the exact signs in the exact order you were shown when you saved. It is easy to not want to save frequently, but the consequence is obvious.

            Make no mistake, this game is difficult. But should you need to resort to a walkthrough, you will still be treated to FMV clips that are entertaining. The story is engaging, and I found myself eager to find the next correct scene. Even after finishing the game, I returned to play the incorrect scenes, just to enjoy them.

Sound and FMV:

            The costumes and props are appropriate to the era, so that it appears you are looking through a window of time straight into London of the late nineteenth century. Unfortunately, you cannot pan the screen, and your view is fixed, but the clips are clear and remarkable for the time when they were enacted.

            The acting is decidedly overdone, such as you would expect from dinner theater, but it seems this was purposely done, an imitation of the old timey vampire movies. The cast appears to be having a great time with this, and there is a jewel in the performance of  Louis Markert as the devilish Devlin Goldacre. Most of the acting is quite acceptable even with the cheesiness, although Harker's lisp is distracting and Van Helsing's accent sometimes makes it difficult to understand what is said.

            The ambient sound is lifelike, and there isn't much music in scenes where music would not naturally occur, except on occasion as a mood heightener when something bad is going to happen.


            The game runs off the single DVD with no installation to your hard drive. You must have a DVD drive, or the game can be played on a DVD player, using the remote to highlight the icons.


            The website for the game (Infinite Ventures) has a very well done hint section, from nudges to complete answers.

            Some of the cut scenes are gruesome and/or scary in nature, and may be inappropriate for younger children or those offended by blood and fangs.


            A manual and in game help are provided, and are informative.

            Hints are available on the website.

            The progression of the game is through choosing the right location, at the right time, often with the correct object in hand, in order to trigger the appropriate FMV cut scene. This may result in some who will find the game repetitive and frustrating.

            Fans of FMV and those intrigued by anything vampire will probably enjoy this.



copyright © 2003 GameBoomers

 GB Staff Reviews Index