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Review: Dracula: Love Kills

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: T - Teenagers
My Rating: Ages 13 and up
Genre: Hidden Object
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2011
Review Published On: August 27th, 2016
Played on: Martha & Thaddeus

Available from:

Steam

Save System:

Your progress is saved automatically when you return to the main menu or quit the game. There's also no need to pause the game, as nothing happens until you click on something.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Like most vampire-centric media, this game is saturated with blood, dark imagery, and occult references. Additionally, some of the villainesses wear rather revealing clothing.

On the flip side, sparing your foes is rewarded, and Dracula is playing the role of a romantic hero!

Screenshots

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A typical hidden object scene

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Van Helsing's office after the corruption moved in

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A minigame about ring placement



Game Overview

Years ago, Count Dracula was defeated by the famous vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing. However, defeat did not mean Dracula was vanquished. Finally awake once again, Dracula learns that another vampire, the self-proclaimed Queen of Vampires, is attempting to take over the world. Angered that an upstart would challenge him, the Count and his loyal henchman Igor begin a journey to put a stop to the evil Queen's ambitions.

When agents of the Queen kidnap Mina Harker, things become more personal and Dracula finds himself making an alliance with Dr. Van Helsing. The three of them band together to stop the Queen, save Mina and restore the world.

This adventure takes the form of a hidden object game with point and click adventure elements. In particular, the main reason for rooting through cluttered hidden object scenes is that you'll frequently need to find specific items in them to solve a puzzle. Of course, many of the puzzles are also minigames themselves, so expect some brain teasers along the way. But don't worry about getting stuck -- there are many antifrustration features throughout the game to help you when you need them, and you won't be punished for using them.

On the other hand, one of the quirks of taking Dracula on a point and click adventure is that you'll sometimes need to use one of his vampire powers in order to advance. Being a vampire, these powers are fueled with blood collected from vials scattered about the world or by feeding on the Vampire Queen's henchwomen.

Speaking of which, the player also has the option of sparing these accomplices. If you do spare their lives, you'll probably end up playing through a bonus level where Dracula can find some other source of blood to drink.

Ultimately, this is probably one of the best hidden object games I've come across. While the story is fairly predictable, the gameplay is smooth and the campy voice acting keeps everything fun. Unfortunately, there's a lot of dark imagery, and while this is more or less to be expected in a vampire-themed story, it's also something that could easily make parents uncomfortable.

Points of Interest

All dialogue is fully voiced
Not many hidden object games feature voice acting, but every line that's spoken in Dracula: Love Kills is actually read aloud. The voice acting isn't exactly the highest quality and the lines are often delivered in a campy way, but I think that's part of the game's charm as it gives the scenes a cartoonish feel to them.
Alternate endings
Depending on what the player has Dracula do, the outcome of the climax changes. Either way, the heroes win, but what exactly happens (and thus who partners with Dracula in the second story) is different. Amusingly, neither ending is a bad end. Instead, you get a choice between a "good ending" and an "evil ending". The key element is whether you've guided Dracula towards good or evil throughout the story.
Very responsive hidden object scenes
There's no delay when selecting objects during the hidden object scenes. Thus, you can click on many objects in rapid succession and clear things as fast as you can find them. There's even achievements for finding a certain number of items within a few seconds of each other.
Challenging minigames
There are a LOT of minigames in this title. Most of them are logic puzzles that are used to unlock something. Including actual locks. However, you're not going to get stuck for very long, as there's always a way to find an answer or bypass a minigame you're having trouble with. There's even a complete strategy guide built into the game itself.
Lots of Achievements
There are a lot of different achievements to earn here. In fact, in order to get them all, you'll need to have played through both stories at least twice. Chances are, you're going to want to replay it anyway, so that's not much of a drawback.
Only a few hidden object scenes repeat
Repeating scenes is generally a bad thing, but here the levels are significantly changed between visits and there's usually an in-story reason for re-checking the area. Additionally, each scene has a fairly wide range of possible items to collect, so you're rarely looking for the same thing twice.
Not everyone likes campy voice acting
One of the more common complaints about the game is that none of the dialogue is taken seriously. While I personally liked the effect, it's obviously a divisive factor. If you want your vampires to be broody and serious, this game will probably grate on your nerves.

Concerns and Issues

Dracula is actually a hero
In a bit of a twist, this story has the "evil" vampire Count Dracula acting as the primary force of good. Many of the things he does over the course of the story involve setting right ancient wrongs, and his motive for most of this is to save the girl he loves from the villain that threatens her. If he wasn't a vampire, you might have expected him to be a knight in shining armor.
Sparing the lives of your enemies is rewarded
If you chose not to feed on the Queen's accomplices, you're usually given an extra level to play. The immediate outcome is otherwise identical, as Dracula will either drink blood from the victim or from a vial he'll find in the bonus level.
Lots of religious or generically evil symbols
Vampire stories frequently feature a lot of references to religions and evil symbols, so this isn't unexpected. There are many depictions of dragons, snakes, spiders, pentacles, gargoyles, masks, skulls, angels, rosaries, crosses and so on.

Some of the symbols are more unexpected. Normally vampire stories focus on Christianity (especially Catholicism), but in this game we have some other religions being referenced through such things as a world tree drawn in the back of a tent or a hamsa hanging in an occult goods shop. Voodoo dolls are also strewn about for no obvious reason.
Blood is omnipresent
Another thing to expect from a story about a vampire is that there's blood everywhere. However, some of the places in the game are literally dripping with more of the stuff than you'd expect. There's blood dripping from a fountain, a bush, and a lake of blood in the Mayan ruins. True to the voice acting, Dracula always drinks it with a comically overdone slurp.
Suggestive outfits
The Queen's accomplices are rather lightly dressed, to say the least. Most of them show a lot of cleavage, and a few are barely covered. Of course, it does make sense that the women that work for a vampire would favor plunging necklines.
The world becomes corrupted
One of the things that the Queen of Vampires is doing to take over the world is to remake it as a vampire's paradise. This creates a bloody, veined corruption that warps areas into a frightening mess that borders on gorn.
The dead assist Dracula at points
The main goal of Dracula's quest is to earn favor with the members of the Order of the Dragon, a group of knights that died a long time ago. At one point in his quest, a spirit that had been resting in its grave is called upon to assist him.