Reviewed: July 28, 2010
Released: June 25, 2010
App Store Price: $3.99
Dracula won’t die, in either the literal sense or the fictional sense. I for one would be more than happy to see him leave the pop culture conscience, but I suppose if we must have him around, the version that does not have sparkly skin is the one that I will be most willing to put up with. You know, the one that eats people. Young folks seem to have forgotten that Dracula is a scary dude that you do not want to mess with, and maybe this game will remind them.|
Speaking of young folks not remembering things -- we used to have a type of game where all you did was click stuff on the screen, figure stuff out and talk to people. It was a lot like the internet (clicking through websites, talking to people, figuring out how to not pay for things), except there weren’t real people behind the avatars telling you how much you suck when you couldn’t solve your problem. Instead of getting berated like you do online, these avatars would politely repeat themselves until you figured out what exactly was needed for you to progress.
Dracula The Path of the Dragon is one of these fabled point and click adventures, and it is perfect for the iPad. The game is a re-imagining, so to speak, of the 2008 PC game Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon. It is very similar, but a disclaimer on the iTunes store assures that, “this is not a port or an emulation of the PC version.”
You play as Father Arno Moriani, tasked by the Vatican to travel to Transylvania to research a local nurse who could possibly be eligible for sainthood. Not to spoil the story too much, but you are not doing that for very long. You are barely in the small town of Vladoviste a day before calling the Vatican (which can be reached by dialing Vatican 65, apparently) to be reassigned to disprove the existence of Dracula. And that is pretty much all that happens, and is an issue I take with the game. Before adding to the “con” list though, lets take a look at the “pro,” side.
This type of game, point and click adventure, is absolutely perfect for play on the iPad. There aren’t any action sequences requiring expedient accuracy that forces you to rely on the unreliable touch screen. No need to tilt the device, or shout into the microphone, or anything so embarrassing. The entire experience is built around thoughtful puzzle solving, and paced progression. I love playing point and click adventures on the iPad, and I heavily encourage publishers to dig into their back catalogues and release all those games that I missed. I’m looking at you LucasArts!
Dracula for the iPad works like most point and click games set in a 3D world. You move from static area to static area, speaking to people and solving puzzles. Dracula sets itself apart somewhat by allowing you a 360-degree viewing perspective in each static area. You can move from one place, look around you in all directions by sliding your fingers across the iPad screen, click (or tap really) to move to the next static area, look around in all directions, and so on and so forth. There is also a rather nifty mode that takes advantage of the compass by letting you physically move the iPad around you as your perspective adjusts accordingly. It’s like holding a move-able window in your hands. It’s really neat, and a cool sort of “show-off” feature, but not one I can really imagine anyone using to effectively play the game in place of the default controls.
The graphics looks good, but do feel dated. I was surprised to learn that the original game released in 2008. After playing for a little while, I blindly assumed that the original game had been much older. It has an old school sort of feel, and the CGI does feel a bit dated, but it is effective, and no characters or sets ever come off as ugly. The sound is good, and that’s about as complimentary as I am willing to get. The acting is okay, but the quality of the recordings are rough. The music is non-distracting, and atmospheric, which is a must when it comes to these moody sort of point and click adventures.
The main issue I take with the game is the length and the amount of story. I don’t mind short games. I tend to pursue my gaming based on quality of experience as opposed to amount of money spent divided by how much time I ended up spending with the game. I’ll take an Ico over a Final Fantasy any day. The problem here is that Part I is really nothing more than a demo. The game should have been free, and used as the carrot on the end of the stick to seduce you into buying parts two and three. The game can be completed in an hour or two, and worse is that nothing really happens. You barely find out what your true motivations are before you find yourself saying, “really? That’s it?” I wouldn’t spend the buck, unless your willing to go all the way and shell out the six dollars each for parts two and three.
Speaking of parts two and three -- to be continued...