Continuing its tradition of creating point-and-click adventures based on fictional characters, developer Frogwares has cashed in on a well-known myth to create Dracula: Origin. Published by The Adventure Company and Focus Home Interactive, Dracula: Origin centers around believable characters in a fictional world. In other words, despite the fantastical nature of a bloodsucking man that feasts at night and sleeps by day, the folks over at Frogwares have done an excellent job portraying a believable assortment of events and interactions that will leave most adventure cravers pleased.
It begins with a cinematic introduction portraying a man speaking to himself about the ways of the vampire. The old standards are immediately apparent--crucifixes and mirrors set fear into the hearts of vampires, whilst wooden stakes and sunlight see to their demise. Near the end of this introductory soliloquy, it is revealed that this professor of vampiristic arts is actually A. Van Helsing, another well-known mythical character. Along with this unspoken introduction to the central character, the bulk of Dracula: Origin's story is revealed: one of Helsing's students, a Mr. Jonathan Harker, has entered the Count's abode and unintentionally led his love, Mina, into the grasps of the beast. It is up to Professor Helsing to discover what has happened to Harker, while keeping Mina from harm.
Like most point-and-click adventures, Origin relies heavily on puzzles. This is immediately apparent even in the first room, as Helsing must collect newspaper articles to plot points on a wall-length map. Not only does this sort of mechanic lead to an intriguing solution, but it also requires the player to read and discover the hidden storylines that create the background of the adventure. When Helsing eventually determines where Dracula may be residing, thanks to his careful map plotting, he sets Mina to place garlic about his manor and heads to his next location.
It becomes clear that this type of puzzle will run the majority of the game, and that's not to say it is a bad thing. One distinct feature of Origin is the ability to hold the Spacebar down to see areas of interest on the game screen. Therefore, for the casual gamer that would rather not spend their time rolling the pointer over everything in sight, it instantly makes the game accessible. With the combined use of the Space bar for this function and a mind made for logic puzzles, everyone should be able to progress through Dracula: Origin at a reasonable pace. For the hardened adventure title fan, they may simply omit this option to increase the difficulty.
While the preview build of Dracula: Origin revealed only a snippet of what is to come in the later regions of the game, it shone with brilliant two-dimensional backdrops infused with three-dimensional characters. The puzzles are well laid-out and not forced upon the player, and the combined effort of dazzling animation and logic-based brain-twisters make for a deep and rewarding gaming experience. Also, the characters have strong and believable voices, something not seen often enough in an adventure title of this sort. For anyone into the Dracula scene or point-and-click adventures as a whole, Dracula: Origin has just arrived on the shelves, and our full review will be coming shortly. Just be sure to keep one hand on your neck as you play.