Short, but still savory
The fifth game in Microids’ Dracula adventure series, Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy picks up right where Dracula 4: The Shadow of the Dragon left off. Ellen thinks she’s found the 16th painting in the Vambery collection, the one rumored to be a portrait of Dracula himself. Are the nightmares she’s having part of her worsening illness, or is this painting more than just oil on canvas?
Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy employs the exact same interface as previous games in the series. Click and hold the mouse button to look at your surroundings, turning in any direction with the free-moving point of view. When you see something worth investigating, simply click on it. Movement from area to area works in the same fashion, with the cursor changing to indicate when you can travel. To use items, click the menu button tucked away in the bottom corner of the screen, double click the item, and then click where you want to use it. Conversations take place with simple dialogue trees, offering just the right number of choices to make you curious without overkilling on the interactivity.
At first glance, some of the puzzle solutions might seem a bit obtuse in Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy, especially if you’re coming from a casual gaming background. They require you to think logically and experiment with everything at your disposal. No hint meters or talking clue companions to help you out, just old-fashioned detective work. In addition to combining inventory items and exploring your environment for objects to use, Dracula 5 features a handful of mini-game puzzles to work through. Nothing too out of the ordinary – just some panel buttons to organize and codes to crack.
Story and setting have always been high points for this series, and Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy lives up to expectations. Characters are well-animated and the environments manage to be realistic without looking dull. A museum office isn’t exactly the most exciting place to start a game, but somehow Dracula 5 makes it interesting. Of course, that could be the mysterious painting with a giant tar cross slapped on the front. The rest of the visuals aren’t a triple-A masterpiece, but for an episodic adventure, they get the job done.
While it’s not necessary to have played the previous games in the series to enjoy this one, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you do. Names, events, and locations from Ellen’s other adventures are dropped quite frequently, and without knowing their context you might feel a little apathetic about what’s going on. Still, for the fifth game in a series, it’s surprisingly enjoyable on its own.
As with previous releases in the series, Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy feels a bit short, especially for the price. It’s not quite a high-end adventure, yet it isn’t a casual affair, either, placing it somewhere in an awkward middle ground. It’s well-made and compelling, with good characters, professional voice acting, and realistic scenarios; but it just isn’t meaty enough to satisfy as a full adventure game. Played with its predecessors, however, it’s a nice entry in the series.