Dracula Series – Part 1: The Strange Case of Martha
Don’t be alarmed if you’re getting a sense of deja vu. If the first part in the Dracula Series looks familiar, that’s because it is. The new trilogy is essentially Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon divided into three parts. But in addition to being cut down into smaller chunks, the game has also been slightly tweaked to be more approachable for casual gamers. But since the initial portion of Path of the Dragon is easily the worst part of the game, the first part of Dracula Series isn’t exactly going to have players clamoring for part two.
The story remains unchanged from Path of the Dragon, so you’ll still be playing as Father Arno Moriani. It’s the 1920s and the good father has been sent to Transylvania in order to evaluate a potential new saint. But, as you can probably guess, he finds much more than a new Mother Teresa when he arrives. Instead, a string of murders leads him into the world of Dracula and vampires. Part 1 covers the first three hours or so of the experience, which, unfortunately, is the least enjoyable part of the game. The first two days, in particular, are filled with much more reading documents and talking to characters than puzzle solving or vampire hunting. It gets better, but it takes a while before the game will actually grab you.
Path of the Dragon was a traditional point-and-click adventure, with a host of challenging puzzles. And while Dracula Series is still a point-and-click game, the experience has been simplified quite a bit. The puzzles are easier and less frequent and it’s almost always obvious just what you need to do next. It feels a lot like the original game’s story mixed with the gameplay from The Fall Trilogy. When you combine this easier to approach gameplay with the new shorter length, it makes Dracula Series a great starting point for those who aren’t particularly experienced with point-and-click games.
Despite being originally released two years ago, the game still looks great. The cut scenes and 3D environments look good and do an excellent job of setting the tone for the game. Even when nothing particularly scary is happening–which is the case for much of Part 1–the visuals still create a sense of spookiness. This is helped quite a bit by the fact that most of the game takes place at night, which always makes things a touch scarier.
The idea of taking an older adventure game and tweaking it to give it a more casual appeal is a great one, though Path of the Dragon might not have been the best choice. While overall the game is fairly solid if unremarkable, the first few hours are quite dull, which makes the first part of Dracula Series far from impressive. Things certainly get more interesting during the final two thirds of the game, setting the stage for Part 2, but it takes some patience to stick around to find out.