“Shadowgate” was one of the first point and click adventure games that I had ever played. While I enjoyed pouring countless hours into the text adventures on the household’s TRS-DOS computer, “Shadowgate” introduced me to interactive story telling in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. “Castle Dracula” is a shorter, less complicated version of “Shadowgate”, but by no means does that make the game boring. In this particular game, you take on the role of a husband who’s pregnant wife has been captured and whisked away to a nearby castle. Armed with a crucifix, you head into the castle intent on bringing your wife and unborn child out alive. Before I head to my local grocery store to stock up on garlic, I’d like to thank Kevin Gondek from Gondefire Productions for providing me with a free review copy.
Before the game starts up, you’ll have the ability to change the screen resolution, adjust the graphics quality, and toggle fullscreen mode via a window pop-up. After that, you’ll be either shown a cutscene or thrust into your last save point, depending on whether or not it is your first time playing. Once in-game, you can access the menu options via the button in the upper right hand corner of the interface, which allows you to start a new game, turn on/off music and sound, and save & quit the game. There is no main menu to navigate and the player will only have one save file which is updated automatically when they quit the game. It would have been nice to be able to play with multiple profiles, should the kids want to try from scratch while I was still playing the game.
The interface is fairly straightforward. Along the top of the screen are three command buttons that the player can click to interact with the environment. The one on the far left with the arrows commands your character to move to a different room / screen. The middle button with the gears allows you to use items in your inventory (displayed along the bottom of the interface) with objects in the environment. Finally, the button on the right with the hand allows you to pick up objects. You’ll never run into an instance where you’ll have a useless item in your inventory, so it’s recommended that you explore thoroughly (but cautiously). I ran into some hiccups with item management and use…that is, clicking and dragging an item turned out to be frustrating at times. When I attempted to drag a particular item to an object on the screen, I’d randomly lose my grip on the item. Getting the items to go where I wanted them to was harder than it needed to be.
In terms of length, the game can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to a couple of hours, depending on how quickly you get through the puzzles and boss fights. The former estimate is obviously directed at those who know every single puzzle and are probably on their second or third playthru. The game is broken up into finding items, avoiding traps, interacting with the environment with the objects you find, and boss fights. Yes, there are traps that you’ll need to watch out for and all of them are deadly in their own right. Some traps can be avoided if you take the time to observe subtle clues in the environment but others are simply discovered through trial and error. Luckily, falling victim to anything will spawn you back to where you died, rather than your last save point. If you encounter a boss that you can’t seem to defeat, you’ll be able to leave the room and come back when you’re ready. Most of the items you’ll need are in plain sight, but one is hidden behind an object you’d never know to look behind unless you clicked randomly around the screen. This can be frustrating for players that are stuck, since I didn’t see any clues and happened upon it accidentally by clicking everything in sight. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s clear that there’s more to the story and the “to be continued…” line only strengthens the likelihood of another game. I for one, am anxious to see what happens.
Overall, “Castle Dracula” is a solid point and click adventure, hi-lited by its stunning visuals and theme. While the game may appear short to some, it’s important to keep in mind that the game is only being sold for $4.99 (as of 2/11/13). In my opinion, the price is worth it for the amount of content in the game, especially if you’re someone who really enjoys point and click adventures. You’ll get a few solid hours out of this game, perhaps more, depending on how often you stop to smell the roses. While it could use a few tweaks to improve the performance of the point and click interface, it remains to be intriguing and thematic enough to keep the player engaged from beginning to end. So, ready your thinking caps and start filling your vials with holy water…you’ll need them!
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Castle Dracula” by visiting the following websites:
You can help bring the game to Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:
You can check out video play sessions here: