(and a long winded
prologue) by nickie
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
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.
"Death is such a
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?"
obvious. Abandon all hope ye who enter. We're in Hell, my boy."
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
website for the game (Infinite Ventures) has a very well done hint
section, from nudges to complete answers.
the cut scenes are gruesome and/or scary in nature, and may be
inappropriate for younger children or those offended by blood and fangs.
and in game help are provided, and are informative.
are available on the website.
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.
FMV and those intrigued by anything vampire will probably enjoy this.
copyright © 2003