With the point-and-click adventure genre not as popular as it was a decade ago, it’s hard to come across genuinely great adventure games. Only a handful over the past few years have touched the genius of such classics as Grim Fandango or any of LucasArt’s great adventure games. Dracula: Origin attempts to fill the void, and it’s an admirable effort. With a compelling story, a budget price tag, and largely good puzzles, Dracula: Origin is a great adventure game.
"...the game weaves a great yarn, full of mystery, surprises, and developments that will keep you drawn to the monitor."
Based off of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, you take control of Professor Van Helsing in an attempt to prevent Dracula’s demonic plans. It’s not fair to just leave it at that, though, because the game weaves a great yarn, full of mystery, surprises, and developments that will keep you drawn to the monitor. The characters are well-developed and well-rounded, making you care more for a situation because of the characters involved in it. Dracula: Origin’s greatest strength lies in its story. It’s what will keep you continuing on in the adventure.
What might turn you off are the overly difficult puzzles. Nearly all of the game’s head-scratchers are clever and rewarding, but there are enough riddles that ask you to do things in a very specific and precise manner to turn you off from the game for a breather. For example, early on in the game, you must scratch the moss off a gravestone to reveal birth and death dates carved on the stone. You can obviously see the numbers listed after a brief carving, but the game won’t acknowledge that you’ve discovered the numbers until that moss is given a very, very thorough scratching. It’s a small annoyance, but these minor frustrations are interspersed so regularly throughout the game, that it becomes a very relevant problem.
"If there’s one thing that’s indisputably true about Dracula: Origin, it’s that it does a great job of boosting your ego once you succeed."
Other than those niggles, Dracula: Origin has a selection of great puzzles. Some are ridiculously challenging not because of gameplay flaws, but because they’re just very well made. With some deep thinking and a spoonful of common sense, the solution will eventually come to you, and you will feel pretty damn smart right after. Admittedly, some of them are hard enough to drain your sanity, but they’re ultimately satisfying to solve. If there’s one thing that’s indisputably true about Dracula: Origin, it’s that it does a great job of boosting your ego once you succeed.
Throughout your adventure of puzzle solving and plot developments, you will be going all over the globe. From London to Cairo, there’s a hefty amount of variety in the environments to gaze at. Besides the blurry texture here and a graphical flaw here, Dracula: Origin is a consistently good-looking game. The backgrounds are crisp with grim or vibrant colors when the situation calls for it, and the character models are generally good. Dialogue sequences do look a bit stilted in terms of animation, but it’s a small quibble in what is a visually strong product.
On the other side of the presentation spectrum, the audio is also a great component. One oddity is the replacement of Van Helsing’s voice actor. A preview version of the game had a much heavier accent, giving his character a bit more flavor. The retail product replaces his voice with a much more standard, English-accented performance, which is a shame. The rest of the cast does a stand-up job, though, injecting all the NPCs with enough personality. The music doesn’t have any blights of the sort, ranging from great string pieces to quieter, more subtle tracks. All in all, Dracula: Origin’s audio is about as strong as its graphics, which equals a great presentation overall.
Your initial play time will range anywhere from 10 to 20 hours or more, depending on how good you are at decrypting the game’s devilish brainteasers. Dracula: Origin is a very traditional adventure game with a unique and fresh story. It’s the story that will keep you coming back until the end, while the gameplay might turn off people who aren’t very accustomed to or good at solving puzzles. Still, Dracula: Origin is a very strong example of the adventure genre and with a $20 price tag, point-and-click enthusiasts don’t have much of an excuse to avoid this game.