Hands-On Preview: Dracula Origin (PC)

Late last week The Adventure Company sent me a preview build of Dracula:Origin to play through. I’ve been very interested in this game since it was announced. Dracula: Resurrection was the game that brought me back to the point n’ click genre almost a decade ago, and although this by an entirely different development team, I was excited nonetheless.

The entire demo is a little over an hour and a half long and there are a nice 5-6 puzzles contained therein. I was blown away from every aspect of the game from the moment I booted it up. The graphics are arguably the best I have ever seen in am Adventure game. The opening cut scene is about five minutes long and it introduces Abraham Van Helsing, whom you will spend the game playing as. The cut scene gives you a wonderful break down of what vampires are and how one can defeat them. From there the game moves you two two locations: Min Murry’s home, and then Lord Golmading’s estate/graveyard. Both locations were oozing with beauty. I could not get over how amazing the characters, locations, and backgrounds looked. We talk a lot about the power of the 360 and PS3 graphics wise, but honestly, this is arguably the best looking game I’ve seen this year.

Voice acting is incredible too. As an ex-resident of the United Kingdom, I get easily annoyed when gaming companies hire American actors to do horrible half-assed British accents. Here I was pleasantly surprised to see not on a variety of British accents ranging from Mina’s posh Londonite tones to the more guttural characters having a perfect cockney twang to the nasalities.

I was thrilled with the gameplay simply because Dracula:Origin has the same space bar option that Secret Files: Tunguska gave its gamers. By pressing the space bar, ll the possible aspects of the game you can interact with are highlighted, meaning if you are stuck of frustrated you’re given a slight bit of help there.

Best of all were the puzzles. This demo contained the most original and innovative puzzles I’ve se4en in an adventure game is at least half a decade,. They ranged from rummaging through newspaper clippings to track vampiric assault to solving some wonderful grave etching based puzzles in order to enter a tomb. Each of the puzzles presented just enough challenge to get those little gray cells working, but not enough that I ever became highly frustrated. Even better, all of the puzzles were thematic and fit completely into the context of the plot. One of the biggest complaints about adventure games is that the puzzles are generally disconnected from the story. Not here. Every puzzle not only adds to the plot, but the look and feel properly Victorian.

I should preface here that although the story does feature a lot of Stoker’s famous characters, the game is merely INSPIRED by and is not anywhere close to the actual novel. For example, in the demo Harker and Van Helsing are old friends, as are Mina and Van Helsing. In the book, it is Jack Seward who introduced the Harkers to the good doctor. Same with Golmading Manor. This is the ancestral home of Arthur Holmwood in the novel, but here it appears to be where Dracula is residing rather then Carfax. Generally I quibble about these sorts of things, but Dracula is impossible to convert properly from novel to well, ANYTHING. Because the game’s story is so good in its own right, I can let this go and enjoy the game’s tale for what it is. If you’re looking for a perfect rendition of the book, you won’t find it here.

Obviously an hour long demo is not enough to base a full review, hence this hands on preview. I will say that if the full build of the game, which has a release date of May 20th and a MSRP of only $19.99, is as good as this demo, we are looking at a serious 2008 Game of the Year contendor. When a game sports some of the best graphics and voice acting I’ve seen in a long time it’s one thong. But to couple it with some of the best puzzles and adventure gaming as well? Wow.

We’ll obviously have a full review around the title’s release date, but as of right now I can’t ever remember having my expectations being met, much less surpassed by a demo before. Rock on Frogwares!

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