Deep within the Carpathian Mountains a creature of unspeakable evil neither dead nor living was terrorizing the locals. But alas, this creature decided to leave the god forsaken place of Transylvania and came to the cosmopolitan metropolis of the western world – London. The undead count Dracula is about to unleash his fury upon the unsuspecting populous of the city and only a handful of courageous people can stop him.
OK, so it’s not quite as dramatic as that, but the description is still pretty much accurate. I have to admit that it was only recently that I found out this game is based on the unique board game, which I unfortunately never played, and in a way it does try to have a multiplayer system, although it doesn’t work very well, but I’ll come to that later.
After the opening screen you get the first set of choices. You can read up on the background story and so forth, but the one I’d really suggest you to read is the RULES section. There you’ll find a short summery of the basics of playing this game.
The game is set in London, after the Count has purchased his new mansion and is just about to start his attacks on Mina. You control a group of 6 people (Van Helsing, Jonathan, Mina, Dr. Steward, Arthur and Quincy) who have different capabilities and functions and you’re trying to defeat the evil Count.
You must now requisite equipment, follow up on clues and hunt down Dracula. You shouldn’t forget to rest however, because otherwise your hunters will be too exhausted and will have to fight their own fatigue instead of the undead one.
There are certain actions you can always perform, while others you can do only after you’ve successfully gathered information. For instance you can’t reach the Jamaica Lane before you’re read the deed to it.
You also need equipment before being able to enter a certain location. It does not matter who carries it, as you only need it to enter the location, to walk around it later on, so one lantern is enough for the entire group even if they split up once inside the vampire’s lair.
The ultimate goal is to defeat the count with all the hunters surviving. The hunters may get injured during a combat scene, but only Mina will be under the constant attack from the beginning on. The count has set his eyes upon her from the very beginning and wants to make her his queen of the dark realms.
Now there’s another curious thing about this game. It, in a way, supports a multiplayer option. The thing is that at the very beginning you get a hunter’s card. There are seven cards all together and in the board game every player should get one. Then different players take turns behind the keyboard and are the people that are written on the card. The problem with this is that the game doesn’t start from ground zero for each of them, but it continues. So if player one played through the first day, the second player will continue where the first one left off and start in the second day and so forth. So it’s really a cooperative game where all the players are trying to achieve the same goal. And since you’d have to pass the keyboard around to the next person in the room with you (and you could all decide upon what to do next) the computerized version wouldn’t really be a multiplayer game even if you had other people around. At least it wouldn’t be anymore mulitplayerish then an adventure or puzzle game where you have a few friends over helping you solve the puzzles.
All in all I’d say this game was very novel when I first played it and is still quite unique. Not many games are quite as successful if based upon the book and trying to follow the storyline. The gameplay itself is the main ingredient of this game, for the graphics are functional at the best and the sound consists of some very well known “spooky” tunes, such as the funeral march at the very beginning, all of which you’d expect in a corny B rated vampire movie, or even a cartoon. There is, however, a windows remake of this classic game which does feature better graphics and tries not to mess up the gameplay.
I’d recommend this game to everybody who’s not contaminated with the idea that you need splendid graphics and effects with booming surround sounds in order to have a great game. You’ll need some patience with this one, but it’s (at least in my opinion) well worth it.