|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Kheops||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Encore Software / Microids||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
That said, there are certainly some unusual and interesting moments to be found. For example, in several instances - squeamish players beware - you'll have to assemble medical instruments to draw your own blood for a sample. This is a meticulously detailed process, right down to inserting the needle properly into your own vein and pulling the plunger to get the vital liquid flowing.
Unfortunately, that's where the fun ends in the procedure, as subsequent steps further along in the game require you to run a battery of tedious, unintuitive, and lengthy scientific tests to determine various blood types and viral infection for a number of subjects and actually complete paperwork tracking the results. All this might sound like adventure veteran's forte, and it certainly is, but it all too often borders on dull and irksome. It takes things a bit further than most players will have the patience for, even those who take delight in high-caliber brainy challenges. One interesting thing of note: complete versions of Bram Stoker's Dracula and the Holy Bible are included among the many texts and documents to be pored through in the inventory system. It provides some varied reading, if you're up for it.
The war-torn Romanian village where Moriani spends a substantial portion of his investigation features a strikingly gloomy and unsettling landscape strewn with buildings crumbling into rubble, barbwire adorned fields of crosses marking the resting places of fallen soldiers, and eerie forests containing ancient ruins. The land's many dark recesses are filled with ominous energy, and regular cutscene transitions give you the constant feeling of being watched. Other areas open to exploration offer a similarly moody atmosphere. In this instance, the soundtrack does an excellent job of assisting the uneasy vibe. It builds at intense moments and ebbs at calmer ones. It sometimes closely resembles a horror movie soundtrack, complete with jarring sound effects and repetitive noises of ill-omen. There are a few outright scary moments in the game, though the tension and eeriness builds slowly throughout the adventure.
Dracula 3 is by no means cutting edge in the graphics department. In some areas, the visuals are slightly dated-looking, yet they're functional and even pretty at other times. However, the odd people you'll run across and interact with suffer from poor design. Characters are reasonably detailed, yet they seem off - especially the young boy who looks more like an old man and the gravedigger who closely resembles a giant gnome, to name a few. Animations for all the character interactions are stiff and sluggish, and it's hard to really connect with them as a result. In contrast, the voice work is strong.
Everything about Dracula 3 feels antiquated. This may be fine for adventure buffs who get bleary eyed and nostalgic over classic gameplay mined from the hits of years long past, but it's hard to see non-hardcore players finding the patience to stick with it for long. The game is not intrinsically awful; it's a severely acquired taste rooted a little too heavily in tradition for its own good.
CCC Staff Contributor