Title:Dracula: The Last Sanctuary
Developer: The Adventure Company
Publisher: Dreamcatcher
Release Date: May 6, 2002
Platforms: PSOne
ESRB Rating: Mature (Blood, Mature Sexual Themes, Violence)

If you're only going to read one word of this writeup, read this one:

This game tries to be in the Adventure/Puzzle genre, and fails on everything but story. Virtually unplayable due to the difficulty of the puzzles, horrid interface and more.

First off, the story is great. Jonathan Parker narrowly escapes Transylvania with his unconcious and cursed wife Nina on a da Vinci -esque flying machine. Once in London, he plans to kill the Count. However, Dracula isn't gonna take this lying down, either. He has a horde of lackeys, demons and minions, not to forget his underlings to do his work for him. Work which includes keeping Nina cursed, and getting that ring off her finger.

Good part of game over. Bad part starts now.

Let's start with the graphics, as well as the way they are handled. Note this: this is a Dracula game, and things are supposed to be somewhat creepy. They aren't. Not by a long shot. Let's just say that the first location in the game could be reasonably compared to a house nearby, broken and falling apart. It isn't scary at all. Now, the game (except for the FMV sequences, which were very well done) looks horrible. The whole gameworld was painted with about half of the 256 colors they chose to use. Secondly, each picture in the game (still shots, a la Myst) is wrapped in a 360 degree sphere. This would normally be cool, but they botched it up big here. Poor color choice, and everything looks very rounded, and tends to shift shape as it moves.

The interface is a joke. There's a cursor in the middle of the screen that doesn't move. This works fine, considering the graphics the game uses. It even changes to a hand to pick some stuff up with. Note here that I said "some stuff", and by no means all stuff. Many items in the game are unlabeled from a cursory perspective, and I had to mash the X button to pick stuff up. It also doesn't help that the cursor range for picking stuff up felt like a game of hunt the pixel.

The sound is not so much of a joke. The music fits, the voices are good, but one thing still irks me. Whenever there's wind, it is most clearly static. But that's only one small flaw in the sound system.

The puzzles in this game, when combined with the interface, are much too challenging. There's an item combining system here that only Macgyver could hope to figure out. How was I supposed to know that I could pick up that wand over there, and that tape, and magnifying glass and make a periscope?

One more thing: this game has combat. I think I need another fight scene...

    In this corner, we have John Parker! And coming out of this closet, is a zombie (why? This is Dracula, why is there zombies? Why is there combat here?)! Fight! John opens up his inventory screen and pulls out a bullet! He does it again and gets the gun, which he combines wth the bullet! And the zombie doesn't even move a pixel! And John uses the gun! (Why is there no sound here?) The zombie doesn't even feel it! Wait, yes he does. He teleports an inch lower! And another inch lower! Look at the frame rate on that zombie, we could eat dinner before he hits the ground!

Go read the Dracula book, and stop wasting time with crap like this. I only played it to node it.

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