Dracula’s Secret (Corel CD Home – all ages) is a spooky journey through Transylvania followed by a legitimate fright night spent on the Count’s grounds. The game is a bit light on content – there are about 25 screens altogether – and, because the install program doesn’t put much on your hard drive, it runs at a crawl. These caveats aside, we thought it was great, clever fun. Choose one of three levels and then move through a nicely-rendered environment that has lots of atmosphere and lots of original logic puzzles. The puzzles are nicely integrated into the overall theme. Find the missing ingredient in a witch’s stew, help the headless horseman find a suitable head, cross a swamp, free a skeleton from a hangman’s noose, etc. It might be a little scary for the young ones, but slightly older kids will appreciate the gallows humor (sample gag: a hand grasping a sword rises from the witch’s cauldron – but, unlike the Arthurian myth to which it pays homage, the sword is a Swiss Army Knife). There’s a slightly old-fashioned feeling to the whole enterprise. No fancy 3D, Quicktime VR engine powers this program; instead you move from screen to two-dimensional screen by clicking in a direction. The monsters seem charmingly innocent by today’s standards. If your child has a taste for the macabre but isn’t quite ready for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dracula’s Secret constitutes a fine middle ground.
– July 1996
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