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Dracula: The Path of the Dragon – Part 1

For: iPhone

Not quite an arresting resurrection

Product: Dracula: The Path of the Dragon - Part 1 | Developer: Tetraedge Games | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Dracula: The Path of the Dragon - Part 1 iPhone, thumbnail 1
They say that when it comes to horror it isn't what you see that scares you, but what you can't.

It's no coincidence that The Blair Witch Project managed to terrify millions without letting you so much as glimpse the eponymous witch. Not even for a second.

By that standard, Dracula: The Path of the Dragon should be the scariest game out there. Rather than dropping you straight into the murky world of vampires without so much as a clove of garlic or wooden stake to call your own, the visage of Dracula is only hinted as you wander about his dark domain asking people questions.

Deep and dark

Like Jules Verne's Secrets of the Mysterious Island, this is a streamlined take on the point-and-click genre, rather than a full on stab-the-prince-of-darkness-in-the-heart action game. Dracula: The Path of the Dragon has a fairly deep and winding plot - indeed, this release is only the first part of many.

You take on the role of Father Arno Moriani as he investigates a potential candidate for sainthood in the Transylvanian town of Vladoviste. Everything occurs in the first-person and movement is handled by touching on-screen arrows that walk you from one location to another.

Each setting is essentially a full 360-degree picture that you browse by sliding your finger around the screen. Icons appear over objects or characters of interest.

This essentially restricts your input to determining where you should go and when within the confines of the plot, a narration from Moriani letting you know just what you should be doing.

Vladoviste comes with plenty of streets to navigate, too, the town's Gothic foundations mixing gloriously with the post-World War I setting. The game's historical setting provides atmosphere and context.

Wish you were here?

The art direction also gives Dracula: The Path of the Dragon a refined, stylised look. Deep pinks and purples offset the overall dark tones. It's bleak without being devoid of colour.

The script, however, is a little muddy. The combination of some dodgy voiceover work and some arguably ambitious dialogue doesn't really move the plot forward with any style. It's often hard to fathom just what you've learned and why you should care in the first place.

Walking around the town can also be confusing because the sheer number of possible directions turns Vladoviste into a labyrinth early on.

The consistently gloomy look of the game makes it hard to find points of reference. Moriani's reminders of your next object are like the nagging of a spouse telling you to stop for directions - you're lost, but have no means of finding your way.

Moriani the meek

Dracula: The Path of the Dragon ends up being a mixed bag, clearly more ambitious than Tetraedge's previous titles. There are short spikes in play, even early on, that are as disturbing as HD epics like BioShock or Dead Space.

Despite the genuinely unsettling setting, this is nowhere near as affecting as it could be. It's easy to be taken in by Dracula: The Path of the Dragon, but it proves that keeping your monsters in the dark for long periods is just as hard to perfect as showing them in all their glory.
Dracula: The Path of the Dragon – Part 1
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 2 February 2010
Dracula: The Path of the Dragon strikes a supreme style, but doesn't stake claim to the depth of gameplay and satisfaction to support such an ambitious setting
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