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Drak

 

    The title screen.The title screen.
Developer: Entertainment & Computer Products Pty. Ltd.
Released: 1988
Genre: Horror
Graphics: Pixel art / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Parser



 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 


 

Note: this is a Commodore 64 game.

 


 

There is never really a good time for one's car to break down in the middle of the night, but when it happens in front of a maniac mansion (no, not the Maniac Mansion, another one) it will be problematic to say the least. Unfortunately for the protagonist, and fortunately for the players, this is exactly what happens and what works as a starting point for this adventure.

The strange mansion belongs somehow to Count Dracula, presumably, at least that is what the game cover implies. There's no trace of that in the game though, unless one counts coffins, garlic, man-eating plants and other such things to be related to the good (bad?) old Count. Presumably he goes by the nickname "Drak", although that is another thing to be guessed, as there is no real way to tie any of the story to the Dracula lore. As for the story, there's not much to speak of. A car breaks down, the protagonist enters the building, presumably to get some help, but as soon as the game starts, the only goal is to escape the house. And not get killed in the process.

Scary and creepy.Scary and creepy.

It can be assumed that the game has been heavily influenced by the aforementioned Maniac Mansion, which came out in 1987. Entering a mansion in the middle of the night with strange things like man-eating plans inside might be too much of a coincidence between the two games. Where Maniac Mansion featured some previously unseen game mechanics and very good technical execution, Drak relies on the basically traditional parser with some technical issues caused by the game engine and sloppy programming.

The game engine is the very same engine that has been used in some other games, like Zim Sala Bim, to name one. With all the features, oddities, and problems that come with it as the good, the bad, and the ugly features. Good: the engine allows abbreviating commands to two characters, like OPEN DOOR can be typed as OP DO. Bad: the player controls the protagonist directly sideways, but GO FO(RWARD) and GO BA(CK) to move in those directions, which creates a very bizarre control scheme where different directions work in a different fashion. Ugly: the engine is glitchy and buggy, for instance OPEN DOOR command can be typed as OP D, which is a harmless bug, some others cause the game to behave erratically. Where the line between engine problems and game-specific coding problems lie, can only be guessed. Suffice to say, if giving a command that needs to be given in order to finish the game in a wrong room causes the game to freeze with no way to recover, something is wrong.

In some cases it is impossible to tell if some features are by design or not. There are some items which can be picked up and carried in the inventory, but never actually used in the game. Whether going by the completist route and exploring every place carefully, or doing only the minimum tasks needed to finish the game, there isn't very much content in the game. That is kind of shame, as exploring strange places and houses is one of the basic charms of the genre.

Hanging out with Egor.Hanging out with Egor.

Puzzles are, perhaps a bit unexpectedly, quite logical. Only a couple of them are a bit strange, otherwise the first intuition of a puzzle solution is also the correct solution. The biggest challenge in the game is to find places where to move forward and back, as that can only be done in specific places, sometimes with no real clues that the place can be used to access other areas. Even with all searching for accessways, few places to die, and random glitches that freeze the game, it won't take very long to complete the game.

Graphically the game looks average for its kind, nothing special, except for the nice animation of the protagonist actually looking around with the LOOK command. That seems to be common for games based on the same engine though. Sound effects and music are very minimal, the protagonist's footsteps form most of the soundscape in the game.

The game never gets very immersive and playing through it isn't very rewarding. It is nice in the sense "another adventure completed", but there really isn't much to look back to after it is done. The positive thing is that the game never gets annoying or frustrating, not counting bugs of course. For those who love graphical parser adventures this might be an interesting one to go through once. But overall it is unlikely that large adventure masses are going sink their teeth into this game. (You get it? It is funny because there's "teeth", and the theme is "Drak" as in "Dracula", and never mind...)

The door is locked.The door is locked.

 


 

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