Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy
First posted on 27 December 2013. Last updated on 27 December 2013.
|Ellen returns to the museum with a painting of Dracula.|
|Ellen is sent a forged passport and driver's license.|
|Negotiating a maze through thick fog is surely a recipe for double trouble.|
|Yanek's ill intention on Ellen is clear.|
|Dracula is back!|
The Dracula series has finally come full circle. Exactly 13 years after the release of Dracula Resurrection that marks the debut of this series, the (supposed) series finale culminates with the release of Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy. Despite the involvement of several different developers over the 5 different games of the series (which includes, in addition, Dracula: The Last Sanctuary, Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon, and Dracula 4: The Shadow of the Dragon), the series has survived under the stewardship of Microïds as its publisher. Loosely based on Bram Stoker's original literary fictional novel Dracula published in 1897, Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy continues the story of Dracula 4: The Shadow of the Dragon. Yet, Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy plays neither as a standalone game nor as a true sequel to the series. Instead, it plays more like the second part of a full game that begins with the previous game. If you have not yet played the previous game, I strongly suggest that you do so first in order to fully appreciate the plot of the current game.
In Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy, you again take on the protagonist role of Ellen Cross, an art restorer who works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Suffering from a terminal blood dyscrasia, Ellen only has a short time to live as the special medications she takes to keep her alive have all but been exhausted. With Adam Stoker (from Dracula 4: The Shadow of the Dragon) making a surprise appearance at the museum to visit Ellen, Ellen is thrust again into the mystery of the strange painting of Dracula that Ellen has previously recovered with Adam's help. When Adam disappears and is presumed kidnapped, Ellen is determined to locate Dracula and save Adam before she dies.
The game begins with a cinematic cut scene where Ellen recalls the events of her previous encounter in Dracula 4: The Shadow of the Dragon. Upon arriving back at the museum in New York, Ellen learns from the director of the museum that the case containing Dracula's portrait has just arrived and lies awaiting in the workshop. Ellen conducts a preliminary analysis of the painting with Gerry in the workshop before placing it inside a locked storage room. To Ellen's surprise, Adam visits her at the museum to view the painting. When Ellen suffers another fainting spell from her illness, Adam takes her back to her apartment for the night. Ellen wakes up the next morning, only to find that Adam has disappeared without a word. Moreover, Ellen discovers that the painting has also disappeared from the storage room and that Gerry has been found dead. After reading Gerry's mail, Ellen learns of a clue from a poem that leads her to travel back to Istanbul, Turkey. There, she investigates the painting's disappearance that ultimately leads her to a confrontation with Dracula himself!
Following the cinematic recap, you are again given the option of playing through a brief tutorial. This is helpful if you have not played the previous game, since the game comes with no manual. From the Main Menu, you can select New Game, Continue, Load a Game, Options, or Quit the Game. This menu can also be accessed by clicking on the menu icon while playing. From the Options menu, you can select Audio Settings, General Options, or Credits. You can turn on or off subtitling and choose between normal and reversed rotation of view. You are given a choice to select from 5 different profiles with which you can use to save your current progress. However, game saves are done automatically at periodic checkpoints only. No manual saving is possible. When you exit the game, your progress is also automatically saved. You can then select to continue when you restart the game later.
Like the previous game, there are 2 different release versions of the game. In the original version the game can be played between Casual Mode and Adventure Mode, whereas in the modified version the game can only be played in Casual Mode. When playing in Casual Mode but not in Adventure Mode, all markers (hotspots) are displayed as well as some puzzles can be skipped over after a period of time. There are no other differences in gameplay between these versions of the game.
A multipurpose inventory can be accessed by clicking on the icon at the bottom right corner of the screen. You will need to collect some 50 items in the game which you can store, combine, and use in the inventory. You also use the inventory to manage the medications that Ellen must take periodically and to calculate the dosages she needs to restore her health as indicated by the health indicator. Additionally, you can access the inventory to review a diary documenting the important clues you collect, a checklist of your current objectives, and a journal of transcript of all of the spoken dialogs in the game.
Gameplay is simple but effective using typical point-and-click mechanics. Context sensitive cursors show the available actions which you can take, such as to pick up or take, to look at, to talk, and to use, whereas directional arrows show where you can go. Navigation is node based. At each node, you can pan around (including up and down) to see the environment in fluid 360° panoramic view. Keyboard shortcuts are limited to the I key to access the inventory and the Esc key to quit back to Main Menu.
As expected, the plot elaborates on the events of the previous game, featuring major characters from that game but also introducing new characters to the series. As well, the plot makes use of poems and other literature pieces to introduce new mythos about the origin of Dracula. I have found the plot to be very linear, though, in that it plays out strictly in only 3 distinct locales (New York, Istanbul, and finally Chernobyl) that Ellen will visit in her pursuit of Dracula. The game features 2 alternate endings, depending on a critical choice which Ellen must make after confronting Dracula that will determine her own fate. I am disappointed that the plot never resolves the mystery of the original 15 missing paintings from Professor Vambery's collection which Ellen is tasked to find in the previous game. In fact, the game makes no mention at all about these paintings, as Ellen is only hell-bent on following the trail of Dracula's portrait (the 16th painting). Still, probably the biggest disappointment with the plot is its short length. It is even shorter than that of the previous game.
The graphics remains unchanged from the previous game. The character models look decent, as do the costumes they wear. This is especially true for Dracula, whose appearance is more human like than that from all previous games in the series. As before, however, the character animations are abysmal. When speaking, they lack any facial expression and show no body movement. The voice dubbing in the English localization is also terrible. There is no lip synchronization at all, making the dubbing look and sound amateurish and cheap.
The ambient music plays throughout the game and complements the darker mood of the plot. Sound effects are solid, such as the sounds of water dripping water, doors slamming, and the clicking of a Geiger counter.
As in the previous game, the puzzles in this game cover a wide variety. Most of the puzzles are inventory based, wherein some items need to be combined before they can be used. Some of the puzzles are standalone challenges and can be quite difficult. There is a maze which you need to negotiate through fog in order to find the entrance to the hiding place of the Shadow of the Dragon. Good knowledge in Roman numerals is required to solve for the game's last puzzle. There are no sliders or timed puzzles. You are awarded points each time you solve a puzzle. A maximum of 360 points can be scored for the game. A total of 20 trophy awards can also be unlocked as achievements.
In sum, despite being better than Dracula 4: The Shadow of the Dragon, Dracula 5: The Blood Legacy still leaves much to be desired. Further, the plot is largely meaningless without having played the previous game first. Even if both games are joined together, the compilation will still be shorter than any of the previous sequels. Given the strong pedigree of the Dracula series, there is an element of disappointment that simply cannot be ignored in this game.