Set in Romania/Transylvania at the end of World War I, this point and click adventure features logic puzzles that are actually logical, an engaging storyline, good graphics and great voice acting, making for a solid game, even if you’re not a fan of bloodsuckers.
Your character is Father Arno Moriani, a priest sent from the Vatican to a tiny Transylvanian village to investigate the life and death of one Martha Calugarul. Martha was the village physician and war hero who is supposedly granting miracles and curing the sick now that she’s dead. During the investigation, Father Arno discovers that Martha is not eligible for canonization due to the fact that she was using the host and holy sacrament to "cure" vampire victims.
After reporting your findings to your superiors at the Vatican, you are instructed to find out the truth behind these pesky rumors of vampires that just won’t die. While on this investigation, you quickly become a believer, making it your self appointed mission to find the vile creature behind the attacks on villagers and destroy him.
While on this quest, you’re aided by a host of unique characters, some of whom (alright, several of whom) end up dead…or sort of. The characters are brought to life through solid voice acting, making them believable as real people. The dialogue is smooth and natural, and in my opinion, best of all, you get to choose your dialogue. There are typically several response choices, and several ways you can work your way through the game.
In addition to the voice acting, you’re confronted with nice graphics of the characters, although some of them look slightly cartoony. Each person you interact with has some little "unconscious" action, like playing with their hair, or scuffing their feet on the ground while they talk to you. It’s a nice change from the stiff character that stands there and bobs his head at you when you speak to him. The backgrounds are quite rich and detailed, with plenty to look at and interact with. There are also several nice touches such as entertaining books to leaf through and seeing your reflection in mirrors.
The puzzle part of the game requires you to think fairly logically and does not rely on chance or random outcomes, meaning you won’t be senselessly beating your head against a puzzle waiting for the gaming gods to smile on you.
That’s not to say that the puzzles are easy. There are two that require you to draw an inverted pentagram with your mouse, and let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The other puzzles require you to either pay close attention or take notes. And if you also happen to have a solid grasp on history, vampire legends, Latin and WWI-era medical practices, you might have an easier time with some of the challenges.
There are two puzzles in particular that present certain annoyances. The blood-drawing and analysis that you have to do, while easy, is likely to bore you to tears. This is where a solid knowledge of WW I era medicine could come into play. Stumbling through the steps of drawing and analyzing your own blood and several other samples is not something I expected to be doing. It doesn’t help that Father Arno was supposed to be a medic during the war, but unfortunately he gives no real useful advice.
The second blood test and analysis is where the conditional rating for game play comes into effect. Roughly halfway through the game you’re asked to perform several new tests on blood samples taken from yourself and the villagers and record the results in a log. If you do everything correctly, Arno says he’s sure of his results and you can move on. Unfortunately, there seems to be a bug that does not acknowledge one of the data sets as being correct or even preformed at all. Meaning it’s a game killer, and you’re stuck forever trying to test and record your results with no result.
Outside of just giving up, there are three possible solutions to this problem; do the full tests again and hope it takes, start over from the beginning of the game and hope it doesn’t happen again, or find someone who has a saved game just after that point and import their game (if you search on the web you should be able to find several forums about this, and helpful people willing to give you their game file).
This is the biggest downside to an otherwise entertaining game, rich with detail that is simply fun to play. I was actually rather impressed with the level of detail and research the developers put into the game. Clothing was accurate for the period, the books referenced and available for your character to read (the full text of "Dracula" and an entire Latin Bible) were quite substantial and the historical references were well-researched.
The game didn’t come with a manual, but the dynamic cursor, and easy point and click system made it simple to jump right in. The hint system was rather unique with you opening to a "random" page in the bible to seek inspiration from the highlighted passages.
Overall, this is a solid and fun game with a good story line and surprising attention to detail that will suck you in and keep you playing long past your bedtime.