Dracula Resurrection

Review by Orb

Dracula Resurrection is everything done right in a horror-themed adventure game. Originally released for the PC in May of 2000 by Dreamcatcher (in North America), this is the game that proves the old Mac gamer's adage true: we may not get every port of every game, we just get the best ones. And this one is well worth the wait.

The story of Dracula Resurrection begins where Bram Stoker's Dracula leaves off. It's probably not necessary to reiterate the original story, or the real-life "Vlad the Impaler" historical narrative; unless you've been living under a rock since, oh, somewhere around 1930, you've had it beamed into your head through a series of retellings, rehashings, and elaborations.

What separates Dracula Resurrection from the pack is that it nicely captures the ambiance of Stoker and maintains the perspective of the characters, using them to immerse the player in an extremely well-designed adventure game, all accomplished while not shortchanging the player in any aspect—puzzles, story, or graphics—a handy trick.

The game is played from the perspective of Jonathan Harker, the hero who had previously found and destroyed Dracula, saving his wife Mina (who had been bitten and was under the spell of Dracula) in the process. The story begins seven years later, in 1904. Mina has once again fallen under the spell of the monster that Jonathan thought he destroyed. Jonathan must once again battle Dracula and save Mina.

The graphics in Dracula Resurrection are absolutely irresistible. These environments are exactly as a player would want them to be. From the dark snowy town to the eerie, musty castle, literally every single area is a horror aficionado's delight. Dust hanging in the air is visible. The environments are 3D, and to say that they look pretty real is an understatement. The game boasts full 360-degree panning, and this helps the immersiveness considerably. The degree of freedom of movement in looking around is wonderful, more so even yet because of the fact that the environments are so well-drawn and fun to be in.

Of particular note is the quality of rendering of the 3D characters in the game—you can literally see the pores in their faces. And the characters themselves hold up to the original Stoker, with maybe a bit of Dickens thrown in for good measure. The game engine is of an equal caliber to the one recently designed by Presto Studios for Myst III: Exile, and it's quite easy to favorably compare the two. The cutscenes are of equal caliber to some of the top animated films Hollywood has been turning out recently, such as Shrek.

The only caveat I have is that because this is a French-designed game, fixed up for an English market, the mouths of the characters do not at all match the words coming out of them. This is a very small complaint in the overall scheme of things, and it is not necessarily distracting—it gives the feel of a dubbed foreign film, actually.

The navigation is extremely smooth—there are no lags to speak of in transitions. The game also has a smart cursor, so there is not a lot of wasted time trying to figure out where the game can or cannot go or what can be done next.

The gameplay is linear, but the design is such that this is in no way a hindrance, and the game moves along at a nice clip. It's much like going though the ultimate amusement park haunted house. There is no red-herring inventory and no wasted or useless actions to lose momentum on, as the design is very tight and well thought-out.

The game does not use a soundtrack except in cutscenes to heighten the dramatic effect of the story. Rather, it uses a series of unnerving ambient sounds in each location—the sound of things moving around, scraping stones being pushed, creaking wood, rattling chains. In some places, there is the barest hint of what sounds like human voices, a not-quite-discernable spooky sound, the kind of special effect used in the film The Exorcist, which had buried in the soundtrack the droning of hundreds of bees the sound of which was enough to unnerve but not to invite examination.

Puzzles are inventory-based and very logical. As covered earlier, there are no red herring items, and inventory that is no longer needed is discarded rather than building up, making for very streamlined gameplay in that there is no time spent trying too may wrong combinations or items on the environment—the frustration level is very low.

A minor point of complaint is that the game can only be started from the first disk.

I played on an 466 MHz iBook, and I suggest that the Mac player use a Mac with a decent graphics card so as not to not miss any of the treats of the design. But nevertheless, I think playing this on a low-end iMac would not diminish any of the gamer's enjoyment at all. The system requirements do call for a G3 or better, so to those of you limping along with a still-useful Power PC, this is the call, time to upgrade to stay up with the newest games.

Dracula Resurrection is seriously scary and atmospheric without being horrifying, more of an elegant Vincent Price scare than an 80s slasher movie. Think Goth Disney, and you've got the right idea. A must-have for the horror fan. And as far as Mac gamers go, Dreamcatcher, bring on the next one! The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Index+
Publisher: Dreamcatcher
Release Date: June 2001 (Mac version); May 2000 (PC version)

Available for: Macintosh PlayStation Windows

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System Requirements

Mac:
G3 or iMac
System 8.5.1 (or later)
64 MB RAM
6 MB 3D Accelerator Video Card
8X CD-ROM drive
Open GL Compatible

PC:
Windows 95/98
Pentium 166 (200 recommended)
32 MB RAM (64 with Win98)
Video card
16-bit sound card
4x CD ROM drive (8x recommended)

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