Dr. Van Helsing, one of gothic literature’s most intriguing and adventurous characters, is challenged with tasks more appropriate for an ambitious civil servant than a legendary vampire hunter in Dracula: Origin, a point-and-click adventure from the developers of the Sherlock Holmes series (Secret of the Silver Earring, Nemesis).
The story follows Van Helsing as he tracks the Drac through London, Austria, Egypt, and all the way to Transylvania to prevent him from using the hapless Mina Harker as a vessel in which to resurrect the soul of a lost love. But it seems that developer Frogwares spent more time attending to the genre’s flaws than crafting an engaging adventure game. Conversations, for example, are automatically recorded for reference, and pressing the spacebar highlights all the hotspots on each screen, thwarting the frustration of missing an item necessary to solve a puzzle. But these improvements merely speed you through the relatively short game’s tedious shopping-list quests, a handful of ingenious puzzles, and one Tim Schafer-esque doozy that involves using a beaver’s carcass as a funnel.
Dracula: Origin is a gorgeous game, thanks to pre-rendered backgrounds and textures so lovingly detailed that you could find Van Helsing’s missing contact lens in a bowl of marbles. Key animated details - like camels chewing on grass and flies happily bobbing around a corpse - keep environments from looking as dead and lifeless as the Count’s victims. But when letters, news clippings, and journal entries recount exciting events while Van Helsing is stuck rummaging through museum shelves for knick-knacks, you can’t shake the feeling that all the fun is taking place somewhere else.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 57% (merely okay)
Jun 20, 2008