The first Dracula title was released by Dreamcatcher a mere nine months ago. At the time, it was announced that a second game was already in the works. It's very impressive that they have been able to churn out two quality titles in a relatively short period of time. So now that this anticipated sequel is here, it's time to put on your adventuring caps as I sink my teeth into Dracula: The Last Sanctuary.
The Last Sanctuary picks up right where it's predecessor Resurrection left off. You've just rescued your wife Mina from Count Dracula's castle and after a short hiatus you reprise your role as Jonathan Harker. Dracula has returned and is doing what he does best... kidnapping Mina and getting you to go and rescue her.
The graphics in this game are by far its strongest selling point. The amazing cutscenes alone are reason enough to buy this. They have a very cinematic feel to them which many other games lack. Much attention is paid to detail and you can tell that many hours of work went into making these scenes look as great as they do. The characters faces are all very impressive with highly detailed eyes, hair, wrinkles, the works. The only complaint I have is that the lip synching is off. That is one of the hardest things to achieve when working in 3D though and it didn't detract from the beauty of the scenes otherwise.
The in-game graphics aren't earth shattering but they get the job done. There are very good lighting and shadow effects employed throughout game that give you a real sense of uneasiness. The backgrounds in the game are completely static and it would have been nice to see some movement here and there such as water moving, trees blowing in the wind, etc. It would have added to setting immensely.
The sound department is a bit of a mixed bag and I had this same problem with Resurrection. There is no music during the gameplay; only in the cut scenes. Instead there are sound effects such as birds chirping, wind blowing etc. I'm a believer that the music plays just as big of a part in setting the atmosphere of a game as graphics do. So in that respect The Last Sanctuary was disappointing. The sound effects in the game however are very well done and sound realistic. The voice acting is also on the plus column although just barely. Most characters are very well acted but there are a few exceptions.
You navigate the game by clicking on a point that allows you to move forward and at that point you can pan in all directions. Essentially it is the traditional point and click interface. It would have been very easy to navigate through this game but for some reason it took clicking several times to get it to respond and move forward. This happened many times throughout the game.
Now to move on to my only major quip about the game. It started out as just a minor annoyance but soon grew into something larger. The main complaint about Dracula: Resurrection was how short the game was. Well, there is good and bad news with The Last Sanctuary. The good news is the game is much longer. The bad news is that the puzzles are not more difficult, there are just more of them. Almost all of the puzzles are inventory based and this in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as its done right. I spent a lot of the game waving my cursor across the screen to find a hot spot where an inventory item needed to be used. Once I found it I would just try combining every inventory item I had with the obstacle at hand until I found the one that worked because more often than not it wasn't reasonably obvious what item you should be using or why you should be using it. By the time I reached the end I felt like I had seen the inventory screen almost as much as I had the actual game.
Also, there are mini action sequences in the game. Don't start running the other direction just yet though. I assure that these 'action' scenes are actually timed puzzles where you have to find the correct inventory item to use before the clock runs out.
Bottom line: If you liked the first game then you are sure to enjoy this one just as much. By comparison I actually liked this game better in spite of its flaws.
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