Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon review
The Good: Logical puzzles; interesting storyline takes refreshing approach to vampiric lore; well-researched backstory; solid voice acting.
The Bad: No map and lots of backtracking; poorly implemented fear mechanic; environments feel lifeless; the sheer amount of information can feel dry at times.
Our Verdict: Dracula 3 is a solid adventure with an intriguing mix of legend and fact, but there’s more science and history than garlic and stakes.

Vampires… who doesn’t love them? With their suave demeanour and sexy arrogance, it’s easy to forget that life can be nixed with a swift bite from one, yet at the same time we enjoy the hunt and eventual staking of these demonic fiends. These hellish creatures have graced countless stories, movies, and even games over the years, and none more prominently than Count Dracula, the quintessential vampire whose legend, like the man himself, never seems to get old.

Dracula 3: The Path of The Dragon, the third game in the loosely connected vampire series that began with Resurrection and The Last Sanctuary, presents us with a much different and, dare I say it, more interesting approach than that of the romanticized Anne Rice vampire, or the irredeemable school delinquents of Buffy. Taking its cues from the Bram Stoker novel, the game presents a rich history of vampiric lore, back to its origin in the Wallachian Prince Vlad Tepes, more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler. The game’s history-heavy backdrop may sometimes appear overwhelming as it bombards you with dates, battles and important characters, yet it is never too much, instead adding depth to the story behind its titular character and giving a richness of plot not found in other games.

The story begins with Father Arno Moriani, a priest sent to Transylvania in order to investigate the candidacy of a recently deceased doctor for sainthood. This being Transylvania, and a game about Dracula, things obviously go awry, and as Father Arno investigates the circumstances surrounding Dr. Martha Calugarul’s death, he is ordered by the Vatican to debunk the vampiric myth. Naturally, their vain attempt to crush the superstitions of the natives eventually drives him to a confrontation with the ever-so-real head vampire himself.

The plot twists and turns with characters appearing and disappearing (often under unfortunate circumstances) and secret motives being revealed, but it is never predictable and remains fresh throughout the course of the game. The initial investigation is over quickly, as Father Arno comes to realize the depth of Martha’s research into vampirism and her venture into the enigmatic “Path of the Dragon”, and this is where the real story begins. Controlling Arno, players must not only pursue scientific and historical reasons for the creation of the myth, but also investigate the myth itself. A pious man of strong character, this leads Arno to question his own convictions.

Much of the game involves Arno visiting historical sites, such as Vlad Tepes’ prison cell in Turkey, and travel back and forth from Budapest to Transylvania at key points in the story. Along the way, there is plenty of detective work, talking to the various characters and piecing together the whole story from their various myths and half truths. And although to the player it will be obvious from the get go that vampires are real, the protagonist’s doubt serves to provide a well-researched analysis of vampirism.

The dark orchestral music of Path of the Dragon is never cheery, as you would expect, and sets a marvellous tone for the game. Rather than becoming overbearing in its attempt to create tension, it is subtle yet powerful. The ambient sounds also lend themselves to this atmosphere, with the low whistle of wind, the howls of wolves, or the heavy beat of your own heart pumping as you find yourself in increasingly terrible situations, often requiring some bible reading to slow it down. However, the game is not so much a horror as an investigative thriller, featuring none of the typical jump-out-and-scare-you moments you might expect in a vampire title.

While used sparingly, each secondary character has a unique look and habits, such as the orphan who flips the disks he likes to throw against the wall, or the innkeeper who often wipes dust off of the front desk, and this distinctiveness is supported by the solid voice acting. Every word of dialogue is believable, and each voice fits perfectly with the characters’ personalities, except for their accents. One German character has a noticeable accent, yet all the other townspeople you come across sound American. Although not terribly jarring, it does seem odd. Nevertheless, the quality of the acting is a cut above many localized adventure titles these days. Dracula himself does make an appearance, though for better or worse, that doesn’t occur until very late in the game. For the most part, it is the fear of his presence that adds so much to the overall atmosphere of the game.

Visually, Path of the Dragon’s frequently interspersed cutscenes have a frightening realism and a welcome ominous tone, although the poor lip synching lets these cinematics down a little. The in-game graphics themselves are of equally high quality, with a fully panoramic environment, allowing you to explore in all directions as you move node to node. Transylvania consists of only a few locations at first, though further investigation opens up additional areas. The main location is the village of Vladoviste, whose distinct lack of townspeople is explained away by their fear of vampires and the fallout from World War I. Vladoviste accurately depicts a war torn country town, and you can feel the sadness and presence of death in the air as its superstitious inhabitants desperately cling to their faith to feel something greater than the awful times they have known. Budapest is the only other main location in the game, and it provides a striking image to polarize the landscapes. Its lush colours and amazing architecture, as well as its upper class characters, provide a very different feel than Vladoviste. Unfortunately, your exploration of Budapest consists only of a single office building, though it is visited on a few occasions, often with different reasons to search new areas of it.

Continued on the next page...





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Game Info

Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon

Platform: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC

Genre: Horror

Developer: Kheops Studio

Also known as Dracula Series: Parts 1-3

More Game Info »

Releases
Territory Date Publisher
United States August 12 2008 Encore
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User Score

Average based on 9 ratings

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User Reviews

Posted by Niclas on Aug 23, 2012

Interesting Adventure with eery atmosphere

I really wanted to love this game. The atmosphere, graphics, and the characters are just great. However I have realised that I don't have... Read the review »



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About the Author
Cameron Urquhart
Staff Writer

Comments

AndreaDraco83
Sep 12, 2008

After reading the review, the game started to appeal to me: I feared that it was similar to the previous game, but from what you wrote is seems a lot better, so I think I’ll check up with it Wink

PS: wouldn’t be awesome an adventure based on Anne Rice’s romanticized vampires? I love them!

Urquhart
Sep 12, 2008

I would very much love a game in relation to Anne Rice’s vampiric mythos, but if all our dreams come true I’d be covered in honey daily by Venezuelan slaves. Unfortunately neither is yet true, and thankfully there is always hope
I have not in fact played the previous games, so I can’t provide a compare but I did very much enjoy this game, so hopefully you do give it a try.

AFGNCAAP AFGNCAAP
Sep 13, 2008

From the review, it looks like yet another solid game from Kheops - and this time with a strong story to boot? Count (ha!) me in.

markerr
Sep 14, 2008

I’m enjoying this game so far but it could be better. Can’t fault the graphics nor the voice acting….I dunno, it’s just something is missing and it get’s boring but it shouldn’t?  I agree with those who think an adventure based on Anne Rice’s novels would have the impact that is lacking and lift adventure games to a whole new level!

Sandman
Sep 16, 2008

One of the few 3rd person games that I did not come to hate. I have been fan of the 1st two Dracula games but for some reason I did not find 3rd installation up to par. Nevertheless, it did not bore me.

The game is interesting to play. Leaving the puzzles aside it is relatively very easy compared to previous Dracula games (excluding ‘Origin’) which is a good thing. I have always believed that stories should be straight forward & easy to follow rather then story itself becoming a puzzle for player.

The game is supposed to be horror but it does not even come close to it. It would have been better if we had come across something scary.

I did like this game until the end, which I believe was just too weak & disappointing.

sierra4ever
Mar 1, 2009

Be warned. This game contains some puzzles that are impossible to complete without a walkthrough Frown
Too bad…

kotkin
Mar 24, 2009

sierra4ever I agree. The puzzles are TOO difficult.
I really liked the game in the beggining but then the puzzles were extraordinary difficult and annoying..

LuckyLook
Jul 30, 2009

The difficulty of some puzzles completely overwhelmed me aswell. It uses a lot of mathematical puzzles. I feel deep respect for the puzzle designers, but on the other hand i had to use a walkthrough at some stages. Then the play lost it’s value for me.

cbman
Apr 13, 2010

I must admit that Kheops and dracula didn’t seem to be a very promising combination but having just finished this I was blown away by it. Yes, some of the puzzles are a little beyind the pail but hey, we have walkthroughs. Ideally i prefer to consult them as little as possible but this game was definately worth sticking with through the trickier moments. It’s even got me reading up about Vlad Tepes!

We know Kheops can do excellent Myst-style puzzlers but this had a great story and a very suspenseful mood to it too and i was honestly gripped by it. And the ending was sensational. Dracula was worth the wait! Actually, i liked the slow build up too. I like time to bed into a game world.

Big thumbs up to the Kheops team Smile

Poke
Aug 19, 2010

I loved this game to bits. For me, I didn’t think any of the puzzles were too hard. There were some ones that required quite some thinking and perhaps a milk and cookie break to mull it over, but on the whole, the puzzles were great.

I particularly loved this game for all the reasons that others seem to find it not as appealing: the horror isn’t piled on like marmalade on a fat kid’s sandwich, but the rich history and realistic science absolutely wows a nerd like me.

The beautiful graphics and voice-acting really help draw you in. The lip-synching issue is unfortunate, but understandable, seeing as the game is supporting so many languages.

Plus, it’s always fun to play an intelligent (and pretty badass when you think about it) priest.

LouiseK
Oct 12, 2010

I also loved this game Smile The puzzles were on another level to anything i have encountered before and yes, some were hard, but everything you needed to know was in your documents if you had the dedication to keep track of it all.

I was starting to feel that adventure games were being constantly dumbed down with the same puzzle variations over and over again and this game really brough something new and academic.

Fantasic!

Entropy
Jan 16, 2011

A very good game.

The puzzles’s difficulty were somewhat herratic in nature: some were extremely easy, especially in the beginning of the game, some however required a lot ot patience and reading.
Hence people who eant to tackle this game should arm themselves with a good dose of patience & get cracking!

This game had a good atmosphere, very creepy and tense, and the ending,although not as ‘epic’ as I was expecting it to be, was also quite ok.

The whole story was quite original, departing from the usual ‘vampire story’. 

People have commented on ‘Ann Rice’ vampires… well I am glad this was NOT one of those stories.
This is not a complaint towards Ann Rice (I am not a fan but I do not dislike her work either), but what I liked most about the game was the whole ‘Path of the Dragon’ idea, that sets him apart from most ‘vampire stories’.

Also I am kind of sick of the ‘romantic vampire’ as well.  Vampires are creatures of darkness, not sissy boys in sissy pants!
This game brings the vampire back to his dark origins of evil, without escalating into cheap horror, hence a fresh welcome from the vampires we see in movies and books these last few decades.

Another interesting feature is the historical mythos (based party on reality and real events) blended into the game.

Conclusion:
Atmosphere: great thanks to the sounds effects
Graphics: for a 2008 game the people might have been made less puppet like… the environments, however, were awesome)
Story: not fantastic (that’s be a story the completely draws you in like TLJ), but something new and very interesting
Puzzles: sometimes a little crazy but overall fun and challenging

Definitely 4 stars.



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