The Retro Critic

Dracula In London

Now, before I talk about old DOS game Dracula In London, I thought I should mention another vampire game which I attempted to play this week, a text game this time.

See, I’d do more text game reviews but as much as I love them, I’m mostly not very good at them. Especially since each text game has their own set of rules altogether. The Hobbit was fast-paced and pushy whereas Vampire’s Castle Adventure, the game I’m going to talk about now briefly, is limited but has time restraints so it really relies on a lot on trial and error.

I say limited because it only has like 70 words that you can say throughout all of it and with just over 180 lines of BASIC code, it’s pretty short.

The goal is “concealed”, we’re told early on, but really, from what I can gather, you just need to enter this vampire’s castle, find him before he finds you and kill him with whatever crap you’ve picked up along the way. Actually, I like how the game limits you to how many things you can carry yet you’re fine just walking around with a sledge hammer, an axe, a bucket full of water, cheese, wine and like two other things.

The first thing you find is a sign which reads: “The Vampire Wakes At Midnight.”

Vampire Castle SignYou pick up the timepiece and realise that you literally need to finish the game before the clock reaches midnight, otherwise this happens:

Vampire Kills

Grrr, couldn’t even take him down with me.

Stupid text game…

Throughout the game, of course, there are secrets to unlock or uncover. Easy stuff like the bookcase which obviously you need to push to find a hidden room:

Secret Doorway

Then there’s more specific stuff like having to find the right weapon to break something:

Break Crate

Nothing happened?!

Come on, I know I should have used the axe but it’s a sledge hammer! Surely it would have done some sort of damage to that darn crate.

Sometimes you’re also required to mix items together like pour holy water in a bucket, for example, or this:

Tie Rope

That actually makes more sense than all the things I previously suggested, to be fair.

Hey! I had to Google “parapets,” ok?

I’m French and unsmart, give me a break…

As with a lot of text games, I get frustrated when it’s just being stupid. And I’m not even talking funny stupid, I’m talking stupid stupid:


Really? You don’t know how to empty a bottle of wine?

I mean, I never drink… wine.

But still, I know how to empty a friggin’ bottle!


Wait… you just said you didn’t know the word “timepiece”!

Now I know the game only really recognises the first three letters of whatever word you type in but that’s no excuse for it not to make any sense and make me feel like I’m going insane when it’s the one screwing up!

Then again, I am pretty dumb myself sometimes…

Burned To Death

Hey, “ireplace” is a typo so that’s not my fault.

Walking into a live fireplace, however, is not the best decision I’ve ever made in a text game. My bizarre logic that maybe the fire was some sort of fake fire hiding a secret room was NOT sound, I know that now.

Fire bad.

As you can imagine, I didn’t get too far in the game at this rate but every time I play it I figure out something new so I’m sure I’ll make it through soon enough. Some of its aspects are pretty annoying but at least it’s not too crazily cryptic so try it if you’re in the mood for a random vampire-themed text game.

I mentioned Vampire’s Castle Adventure because when I started playing Dracula In London, I assumed it would be the same type of deal when, in fact, it turned out to be something completely different.

For one thing, it’s not so much a text game as it is a board game.

Based on Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula novel, the game gives you the chance to play as 6 characters from the book (or play with 5 friends) as locations and clues are dropped on you at random making it more of a challenge to get to the novel’s inevitable outcome. Although sometimes that means it can happen out of the blue since Dracula could just pop up at any moment.

Van Helsing Keyboard

lol That’s adorable.

See, I can’t play this game with friends because the temptation to play as Jonathan Harker and imitate’s Keanu Reeves’ infamous British accent the entire time would be much too strong to resist.

Your main map in the game is this one:

London Screen

It gives you all you need: locations, the time, the date, bat-related news headlines.

It’s like an iPhone, really.

There’s a surprising amount of things you can do in this otherwise basic-looking game. You can pick up provisions and choose from a whole range of items to help you battle Dracula:


Graphics-wise, this is a mixed bag in that some screens can get pretty text heavy, while others are more directly visual:

Open Door

And others show you your characters as different coloured letters in a less detailed version of the room you’re in:

Musty Room

“The room smells musty and close.”

How can anything smell close, unless you’re a dog?

I guess there are wolves and other animals in this game so who knows, maybe you can play as them too. It’s like the wheelbarrow in Monopoly: no one wants it but it doesn’t really make a difference. Still gets the job done.

Oh, and by the way, isn’t it Carfax Abbey, not “Carafax”?

Whatever, you can move your characters around using the numeric keypad and it’s about as exciting as you’d expect:

Use Numeric Keypad

That’s part of the game’s charm, though. Similarly to many Atari games, you’re expected to use your imagination. So when the big fight with Dracula happens at the end, it looks amusingly crappy and kinda confusing but since you know exactly what happens in the story, it’s easy to picture what’s happening.

Crucifix Dracula

Count Cowers

Dracula’s forehead looks weird.

As does his cowering.

Dracula Banished

What’s with the hashtags on every corner of the room?


And how do you banish Dracula from the Earth exactly?

Or the earth, for that matter.

Never mind, point being it would have been nice to have more interesting visuals in order to really picture cool stuff like this:

Dracula DeathLuckily, what the game lacks in graphics, it makes up for in variety and intrigue. You really do get sucked into this very familiar story through fun characters like this guy:

Old Sailor

And many amusing descriptions:

Dracula Light Sleeper

The undead are, indeed, light sleepers.

Not the female undead, though.


Overall, this is a hard one to get your head around at first but if you’re into that kind of abstract retro game then this is an enjoyable experiment to discover and try out with friends. It’s maybe not the most visual Dracula board game around (though a later version adds in better graphics here and there) but if you’re willing to put in some effort, it might surprise you.

Dracula In London’s maybe not my type of thing, personally, but I could see people getting a kick out of it and I did enjoy playing it despite not knowing what the hell was going on for the longest time.

Ending Dracula

All’s well that ends well, though.

For anyone not called Dracula or Arthur.