You are Father Arno Moriani and it is September during the year of 1920. You have been sent by the Vatican to investigate a recently deceased potential candidate for sainthood, Martha Calugarul, who tirelessly administered to the wounded during the Great War. She resided in a small town, still recovering from the devastation of WWI, in Transylvania. And just outside of this town is Vlad The Impaler's (Dracula's) Castle. The game starts with you arriving in this town, recently having received your instructions.
The investigation takes an unexpected (or I guess expected given the locale) turn when the body of the saint is found to have the "Mark of Dracula" on it. But the church has already decided that vampires do not exist and are just a peasant superstition. What follows is Father Arno's investigation into strange blood disorders, vampire myths, and the strange happening surrounding the death of the potential saint, as he struggles with his belief that vampires do not exist.
Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon is the the third title in the series also comprised of Dracula Resurrection and Dracula 2: The Last Sanctuary. It does not appear to have any connection to its predecessors in terms of the story. It is not even produced by the same developers. But like its predecessors it is a first person, 3D, free looking, node-based graphical adventure.
Throughout the game the theme of vampires rises in intensity, slowly building from an eery atmosphere to imminent threats, from myths to real dangers. And the game plays this wonderfully. The plot, gameplay, puzzles, locale, and music all perfectly flow with the atmosphere. Particularly, I think the puzzles are a perfect example of this. They start off rather mundane, like you would expect from a Kheops title, but soon expand into the mystical and even violent.
These puzzles are for the most part quite interesting and set very well within the world. In particular I found a few of the puzzles extremely memorable, and while they might not have been the most entertaining on a pure gameplay level they fit and exemplified the atmosphere and plot so well that it did not matter.
However, it is often the polish and little details that make or break a game, and in Dracula 3 there is no deficiency of either of these. True to Kheopian form, the graphics are great and realistic and the inventory and note keeping system is exceptional, with a very detailed objective system among other things.
But over and above all of this, they have even included a hint system that is expertly worked into the setting of the game. This system utilized a fully readable and unabridged version of the bible included in the game and directs you to an actual passage that will give you a hint about your current predicament. Considering that you play as a priest, I cannot think of a better way this could have been pulled off. But they did not stop there, the original novel Dracula written by Bram Stoker is also available, after you acquire it, and fully readable if you so desire.
The Path of the Dragon is a fantastic atmospheric adventure, and quite possibly has one the of best and most unique horror plots I have ever encountered. It is simply not like anything I have experienced before and I particularly liked the scientific and rational way Father Arno goes about his investigation. And while the puzzles can get rather boring in some cases, they fit so well into the plot and atmosphere that I have trouble holding this against them.