Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon

Developer Kheops Studio sticks to the ancient adventure-gaming formula that it has specialized in with previous releases such as Return to Mysterious Island and Voyage, and spins a dull yarn in which you research the biggest bloodsucker of them all in 1920s Transylvania. Busywork puzzles and stone-age visuals further drain the rest of the creeps out of this supposedly scary saga, which unfolds more like an uninspired detective story than an ominous encounter with a legendary monster.

The plot isn't what you would expect from a Dracula-inspired game, although you can't characterize that as a good thing. For a change, you don't play Van Helsing or any of his descendants. Instead, you take the role of Father Arno Moriani, a priest sent to Transylvania by his bosses at the Vatican to investigate a recently deceased Romanian doctor who has been declared a candidate for canonization. The good father soon finds out that the doctor held some odd views regarding a number of strange deaths in the village, and he finds his assignment quickly changed from sainthood vetting to disproving the existence of vampires. So you spend most of your time undertaking scientific research and questioning professors, not tracking down Dracula and his pointy-toothed pals. More time is spent with test tubes than with stakes, and you don't actually encounter any vampires until the very end of the game.

Another novelty involves moving the setting from the stereotypical Victorian age to the 1920s, when Romania was still reeling from the devastation caused by World War I. This doesn't make for many differences when it comes to gameplay, although shifting the game into the 20th century does allow for more-varied artwork involving semimodern touches such as telephones, trains, electric lights, and chemistry equipment. However, the overall visual quality is fairly poor, despite good use of shadows and fog effects to create a spooky mood. Most scenes are grainy, and character models are afflicted with slow-motion movement tics that makes it seem like everybody you meet is underwater. Voice samples often sound vaguely slurred in a rather similar fashion, lending a surreal vibe to many conversations that actually enhances the eerie nature of your investigations. 

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