Kheops Studio is one of the brighter lights on the 3D adventure gaming scene, and the French developer%26rsquo;s latest offering - Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon (a different company created chapters one and two several years ago) - is one of the most mentally taxing and imposing point-and-click puzzlers you%26rsquo;ll ever aim a mouse at. The plot follows a young Vatican priest, Arno Moriani, who visits Transylvania in 1920 to investigate a deceased local physician%26rsquo;s candidacy for sainthood. Some wicked events involving shady supporting characters and townsfolk quickly ensue - voiced by an uneven mix of good, mediocre, and dreadful actors - and shift Father Moriani%26rsquo;s focus from saints to vampires (where Kheops%26rsquo; research into the game%26rsquo;s numerous folklore and literary references is exemplary).
Some gorgeous 3D artwork and equally impressive cut-scene animations keep the narrative flowing as you converse with key characters, collect new inventory items, and solve an increasingly challenging series of puzzles and unlockable dead-ends. Some of these brainteasers - including a tricky Enigma decoding machine segment and a complex darkroom sequence - are brilliant additions, while others will strain your patience and gray matter to the breaking point. That%26rsquo;s because the game often requires you to employ university-level math and science skills to decipher its Byzantine codes and conundrums; without a walkthrough, some of these will literally take hours. Multiply this tenfold, and you end up with a point-and-click adventure game that makes the SATs look like child%26rsquo;s play.
If that%26rsquo;s appealing - and not all of us have that kind of free time or superfluous brain capacity - then Dracula 3%26rsquo;s high production values and engaging storyline will likely seal the deal for hardcore puzzle fans.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 76% (good)
Sep 24, 2008