Dracula Resurrection Review

The year is 1904 -- 7 years after Jonathan Harker's last confrontation with Dracula. Jonathan thought Dracula was gone forever. And, as the bite marks on Mina's neck healed, he also believed that his wife was forever safe from the bloodlust of the vampire. Now Dracula is back and Mina is irresistibly drawn to his Transylvanian castle. Jonathan returns home one day to find his beloved Mina gone. She has left behind a letter explaining her yearning and her intent to travel to Transylvania and Dracula's castle.

Jonathan embarks on a journey to rescue Mina and bring her back to London. He easily gets as far as Borgo and is now desperately seeking passage to Dracula's castle. This is where the adventure begins. Your goal in Dracula Resurrection is to help Jonathan complete his journey to Dracula's castle and rescue Mina.

Dracula Resurrection is categorized as an adventure game, but it felt more like a cross between an adventure game and an interactive movie. Gameplay was very linear. Plus, most interactions resulted in a video sequence of one sort or another. But, regardless of how it is described, the game is entertaining and enjoyable, within its limitations.

One of the limitations is that the game is too easy. The puzzles were mostly "no brainers", of the "bring the key to the lock" variety. The hardest part was not in figuring out the solution, but in actually finding the item needed. On occasion it was necessary to talk to a game character, in order for the game to progress -- something which I occasionally forgot to do, resulting in some wandering around, wondering what to do next.

A number of features contribute to the game's simplicity. Needed objects are often found close to where they must be used. When choosing an object to work with, the cursor changes to indicate when the correct object has been selected. And finally, it is impossible to die.

The most critical limitation of the game is that it is just too short. I really enjoyed the game -- what there was of it. But the limited length kept a good game from being great. It took only twelve hours to complete, and it would've been much faster, if I hadn't spent a lot of time "pixel-hunting" for a couple of necessary objects.

Searching for missing items, besides being tedious, was also annoying because of the way the cursor is always positioned in the center of the screen. Looking back-and-forth (or up-and-down) requires that the entire scene swings from side-to-side. Just a few minutes of searching left me feeling rather dizzy.

Another disappointment was the somewhat abrupt ending. Even though the ending included an excellent cut scene, I was left feeling rather unsatisfied. I felt as though there was a lack of resolution, which could not be remedied without a direct confrontation with Dracula -- something that this game did not attempt.

On the bright side, the graphics were excellent -- easily the high point in the game. The scenes were haunting and moody, and incredibly realistic. Characters were extremely well detailed. And although many of them were rather grotesque in appearance, they were fascinating to behold because of the incredible 3D details. Another pleasant surprise was that there weren't any gruesome blood and gore scenes -- something I had rather expected, judging from the box art.

There were only a few faults I could find with the graphics. First, many of the scenes were not seamless. Rotating around in the 360-degree panoramas often revealed several seams in each scene. The other faults were generally based on accuracy and continuity. For example, in one scene a barrel is standing on-end in a corner of a mining cart; and in another scene, the same barrel looks much larger, and is laying down, filling the entire cart. But these discrepancies were few and far between. And they hardly detracted from the overall visual experience.

Cut scenes were breathtaking. Scenes were well-detailed and flowed smoothly. The only complaint -- and again this is a minor point -- is that the characters were occasionally over-animated. The music during cut scenes added to the overall haunting, dangerous mood of the game. I liked the way the music faded in and out of cut scenes, adding to the movie-like effect.

Don't expect to hear any music outside of the cut scenes, though. The rest of the game had sound effects only. The sound effects generally contributed to the haunting mood, although there were a few places that the continually-repeated sounds started to be mildly annoying.

I thought the voice acting was well done. Characters were easy to understand; but, if needed, dialogues could be repeated. This is something, I must admit, I did on occasion just to enjoy the animations again.

In general, the game ran well. The only technical difficulty I had was during cut scenes, when the sound occasionally stuttered. Most of the problem, but not quite all, disappeared once I shut down other programs running in the background.

Installation was painless. And, thankfully, disc swapping was minimal. The game spans two CD-ROM discs and the linear nature of the game made it possible to play the first half of the game from one disc, then swap discs for the second half. The only additional disc-swapping was when playing the second half of the game. Since it is not possible to start the game from the second disc, the first disc must be used to begin the game and then the second disc is used to load the saved game.

The interface was simple to learn and use. A left click accomplishes the tasks on the screen. A right click brings up the inventory. Saved games and other options are accessed with the escape key. And the inventory screen contains beautiful graphics. One nice feature is the ability to see excellent close-ups of each inventory item as the cursor passes over it.

The game save feature was attractive, but a bit limited. I liked the way the game would take a snapshot of the scene where the game was saved, making it relatively easy to find the correct save later. But what I didn't like was that it wasn't possible to create more than eight saves. But that is more of a personal preference than a problem, because to be perfectly fair, eight saves was adequate for this particular game.

So what's the bottom line? I enjoyed Dracula Resurrection -- what there was of it. It was a good game, although it just missed being great, because of its shortness and lack of difficulty. The ending was somewhat unsatisfying, since it was a bit too abrupt and lacked resolution. But even so, I felt it was still worth the play -- even if only to enjoy the hauntingly beautiful scenery and the moody atmosphere.

-- Christine Zarubin