Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon
First posted on 11 October 2008. Last updated on 19 December 2013.
This game is part of the Dracula Trilogy in the Adventure Classics series released in 2009 by Iceberg Interactive.
The compilation includes 3 games previously released by Microïds separately in 2000-2008:
- Dracula Resurrection
- Dracula 2 The Last Sanctuary
- Dracula 3 Path of the Dragon
Dracula lives again! Kheops Studio and Microids have joined effort to resurrect the character of Dracula created by Bram Stoker in 1897. The third title of the Dracula series follows Dracula: Resurrection (2000) and Dracula 2: The Last Sanctuary (2001). In Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon, Dracula continues to wreak havoc in Transylvania. Finally, the original French release of the highly anticipated sequel has been translated to English, and it is undoubtedly the best game in the series.
In Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon, you take on the role of the main protagonist Father Arno Moriani, a priest located at the Vatican in Italy in 1920. After the death of Dr Martha Calugarul, a physician and a scientist, she was posthumously awarded the medal of the Order of the Star for her kind deeds to people and her efforts during World War I. Dr Calugarul, who was the presiding doctor at the local dispensary in the tiny Catholic Romanian town of Vladoviste, was also nominated to be beatified and be made a saint by the Catholic Church. Monsignor Felicio Briganti of the Vatican has assigned Father Arno to interview the locals in Vladoviste to see if she has indeed performed miracles and is worthy of beatification.
On arriving at Vladoviste, Father Arno visits the dispensary where Dr Calugarul has once worked. There, he meets Maria the new doctor, a gravedigger, a journalist, an archaeologist, and several town people. Before long, he discovers that Dr Calugarul had not died of natural causes but was murdered. In a town with a history of unexplained deaths, Vladoviste is seemingly hiding some dark secrets. After interviewing the locals, Father Arno is led to believe that dark forces and vampires are the cause of these deaths, especially after discovering that all the bodies of the deceased have been drained of blood. Reporting back to Monsignor Felicio Briganti, Father Arno is told that he must prove or disprove the existence of vampires, in order to protect the Catholic Church as well as any dealings Martha may have had with them.
To seek the proof he needs, Father Arno collaborates with a renowned doctor and a noted historian on the occult. After recruiting both Professor Heinrich Von Kruger, a doctor, and Professor Irina Boczow, a renowned historian, Father Arno's travels escalate. In search of the Path of the Dragon, Father Arno has to complete 7 trials or steps that make up the Path of the Dragon. His journeys involve going to Budapest, troglodyte caves in Turkey, Budapest again, before returning to Vladoviste and entering secret catacombs leading to the Castle of Twilight.
As Father Arno, you will have to question everybody thoroughly, read up on historic documents, analyze blood samples, decipher cryptic codes, solve perplexing puzzles, and much more, in order to walk the Path of the Dragon and to finally meet and confront Dracula himself!
The game comes packaged in an attractive DVD case. No printed manual is included, but the DVD includes a manual that you can print off for ready reference. This 11 page manual includes an Epilepsy Warning, System Requirements, Installation and Uninstall Instructions, Menu Screens and Selections, Cursor Information, Inventory, Documents, Credits, and Technical Support.
After installing the game, the Main Menu window appears. From there, you have a choice to change options for Subtitles (ideal for gamers who are hearing impaired, as the dialog is fully captioned), Rotations, Object Information, Brightness, and Volume controls. There is no option to change screen resolution; instead, the game is played at whatever screen resolution your system is currently set at. Setting a resolution of 1024x768 pixels gives the best balance between quality and performance.
The game is divided into 6 days of activities, where you will travel to Turkey, Romania, and Vladoviste to investigate the strange events surrounding Dr Calugarul. In your search for Dracula, you will also discover secret organizations, such as the Thule Society or the Vesnicie Foundation, that will lead you down the Path of the Dragon. Throughout the game, you will need to pick up objects for future use and solve puzzles that enable further progression in the game. Many of these paths are not linear, which adds to the difficulty of the game. You also have to frequent some locations on many occasions in order to obtain new information, and some of the objects found at the start of the game may not be used until the very end. Although much of your investigation is done at nighttime, there is no frustrating pixel hunting for objects. All the objects are easy to locate, even when they are hidden in the dark. There are over 60 objects to be found for your inventory, nearly 30 puzzles to be solved, as well as many historic documents to be sighted and collected.
Gameplay is very straightforward. The game uses a basic point-and-click interface, where you can walk freely to any part of each scene. Left clicking the mouse allows you to move your character in the indicated direction, and by movement of the mouse, you can rotate through 360° for a panoramic view. There are 11 different context sensitive cursors—they range from talking to selecting an object, viewing an object, and moving an object in various directions. It is important to know what each of the cursors is used for to play the game, so make sure you refer to the manual for details.
At any time while playing the game, right clicking the mouse brings up the Inventory. You can then select to enable Main Menu, Objectives, Inventory, Dialogs, and Documents. The Objectives is an innovative and helpful function, which gives the player a reminder of tasks that have to be performed within each day. A record is kept in the Dialogs of every conversation occurred in the game (nearly 210 pages). It can be referred back to for valuable information to solving the puzzles. Finally, there are nearly 120 pages of Documents that can be founded in the game, consisting of letters, notes, photographs, paintings, codes on paper, and objects.
The graphics are superb. All the characters wear both appropriate period and national costumes. Whether in Germany, Romania, or Turkey, the costumes complement the country and the period. The depiction of the buildings in the villages, the damage caused by the war, and the Castle of Twilight are excellent. The graphics are clear, and there are good use of textures and shadows. The game is aesthetically pleasing and very easy on the eye.
The music and sound effects are also of a very high quality. Several different scores alternate to depict an atmosphere of suspense or mystery, and haunting music plays to a slow crescendo when the occasion arises. The very apt music complements the flavor and the time period of the game. The sound effects are all very realistic. Simple sound bits such as a telephone ringing, water boiling, or stone grating against stone are undeniably identified.
Although the game has been fully translated to English, to add to the authenticity of the story, not all countries speak fluent English. With parts of the game emanating from the Vatican, some documents and conversations are spoken in native Latin. However, these have been translated into English in both the dialog and the enclosed captions. Similarly, some of the documents discovered in the game are written in German, Greek, Romanian, and Turkish, but they have again been translated into English. It is these small additions that add an extra layer to authenticity to the game.
Notwithstanding the obvious overuse of Dracula as a character in adventure games, Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon is still a cut above the rest. Gamers will appreciate the effort that the developer has put into developing a convincing storyline that leads the player from country to country down the Path of the Dragon. Some puzzles are straightforward, but other puzzles are more perplexing, albeit logical. Several puzzles require some knowledge of arithmetic progressions, the use of Roman numerals, and the deciphering of coded words. The game lends itself easily to some 30-40 hours of play time. As amongst the best adventure games released in recent years, I highly recommend this game to all adventure game fans.
At the end of the game, there is a cinematic sequence showing a possible continuation or sequel to the game that is to take place during World War II. Supposedly, some of the survivors from this game continue their search for the Path of the Dragon. In other words, fans of the Dracula series can look forward to another sequel sometime in the future.