Naturally, your first thought after leaving the inn is to go cross the bridge, right? You did just put in all that effort! Unfortunately, some supernatural power causes it to fall apart in Hollywood fashion, forcing Jon to run away from the the collapse back the way he came. The game then refuses to update the panorama, still showing the bridge as intact! You might assume this is some kind of setup for a puzzle, but you won’t find any hotspots, which is sure to confuse. No, what this scene actually does is unlock a mandatory conversation back at the inn, which is one of the last things you’ll think to do, what with the inn locked up like it is!
The first thing you have to do is find Iorga, which can be tricky if you haven’t realized where your loft was relative to the ground. You can search him to find a keyring containing two keys. One of these probably goes to the cabin on the lake, since that seems to be the bad guys’ base, but Viorel is now blocking the path to the cabin, so that’s out. Thankfully, he’s always looking away from you when you find him and is basically just a wall (you can’t attack him or anything), so we’ll just have to find another way ’round. That just leaves the other key. This is stupid: it belongs to the well, even though the well is inn property!
Unlocking the well reveals it’s long since dried up, and someone seems to have carved out small dungeon complex since it happened! Video games! Jonathan is able to reach one set of rooms from here, though you can see more below, rooms that I suspect we visit later. These upper rooms lead to a bricked-up exit overlooking what appears to be a hanged corpse, perhaps a murder perpetrated by Viorel and his thugs. It’s hard to say how this ugly scene factors into the overall map, but that’s neither here nor there. Your actual job here is to grab a lantern and then hang it on a barely-visible hook nearby, because god forbid you carry it in your hands like some kind of peasant! Oh, and god definitely forbid you pick the lantern up after you’re done here. You’re only going into the dead of night to fight an arch-vampire! Anyways, you find a rope with a grappling hook attached not a half-foot into the darkness. You could have found them with your fucking foot.
Now armed with the grappling hook, you can use it to re-enter the inn. Annoyingly, because Jonathan needs to use the grappling hook elsewhere, you don’t get to leave the rope behind even if you want to, so you have to repeat this action every time you want to get on the balcony. Oh well. I guess it keeps Barina and Mischa safe, too, and it’s only a minor chore.
You go to chat with the NPCs about recent events. Mischa will talk about both the bridge and the lake cabin. Neither of his conversations are mandatory, though the one about the cabin will help point you in the right direction. Here, we see him moving all the way down to the waist for once (his hips and below still being static), which suggests, in that way we’ve seen on this blog from time to time, that the game probably got more advanced as development went on. Asking about the cabin is weird, though, since Jonathan just asks about the castle again at first, and then Mischa begins telling him a tale about thousands of men who died in a quarry to get the stone for Dracula’s castle, and that they still haunt the place. Only there at the end does he – not Jonathan – bring up the cabin, saying it might have a “route” to the mountain tunnels that might lead to the castle. “But all the roads to the cabin are blocked!” Jonathan says in another childish whine, which Gasman seems to have been doing a lot during these Mischa conversations. Mischa recommends you talk to Barina instead, which is why I put his conversations first!
(By the way, the quarry? It’s the place the game has been calling a “mine,” even going so far as to call it “Metallum” on the sign! Great job, team.)
“It was very hard for me to get back to the inn,” Jonathan says to Barina, getting closer and closer to the camera with every word, until we’re just short of colliding with his nose. Barina repeats information you’ve already heard or guessed at, her torso twitching around, for lack of a better word, throughout the conversation. I think it’s downscaling and then returning to its base size multiple times, for some reason? Jonathan begs for help, guilt tripping her by saying he’ll fight Viorel if necessary. Barina says he can’t possible defeat the thugs, especially since she figures they have supernatural powers, which they very well might! She comes up with her own plan. It seems her husband told her about a possible secret passage in the cellar just before he died, in that fine RPG tradition of secret doors people have heard of, and have never used, but are always real. She gives you the key to cupboard drawer nearby (remember that?), saying her husband’s journal is stored there, though she cautions that “What is down there, that is what killed my husband!” Yeah, there’s nothing down there. I’ll actually give the game a lot of credit for building up this secret passage, like for real, I totally bought it on my first playthrough and it got me really excited, which is probably why I’m going to deflate things for everyone reading this and reveal that the secret passage has nothing lethal in it whatsoever. In fact, this first game can’t kill you in any way, in the LucasArts style, but they don’t even put a fake trap down here!
You unlock the drawer in the cupboard and find three items. This is the first time we see a design pattern that the sequel will use repeatedly: putting items on top of one another to force you to collect all of them, even though you currently only really need the one at the bottom of the pile. Arguably every single one of these instances could have be eliminated in some manner or another, and they do look kind of silly, but they’re not a bad design shortcut! Unfortunately, you will find a few out there in the industry, including in the sequel, where one of the items that are nominally “on top” is actually way to the side and not blocking your actions at all, and yet the hotspot for the other items doesn’t appear until you’ve grabbed the other thing!
But after all that buildup, this pile doesn’t actually do it right! This pile of tools includes a new key, an old-fashioned lighter (hey, come to think of it, who is lighting all the lamps spread about the game?), and the aforementioned diary, but the diary is at the bottom and you don’t need to read it! Jonathan reads aloud, and we can tell as we watch Barina’s horrified expression as she hears some of her husband’s final words, which are surprisingly spiritual and hellish for all the game has been avoiding the supernatural up to this point, will-o-wisp in the cemetery notwithstanding. She crosses herself. It’s one of the opening duology’s first few truly effective scenes in my mind, and there will be a few of these before we’re done! These games have some real high marks from time to time or I probably wouldn’t be here talking about them in delay of their superior sequel, Dracula 3!
Barina’s husband writes about a “Dragon Ring,” which he tantalizing describes as “a key to hell, and the door is just below us!” He says he’s contrived a way of sealing the door, and then hid the ring “where St. George protects the living and the dead,” praying it stays there or doom them all. Again, this really builds up the secret passage! This duology, along with the third game, is one of the few, modern Dracula adaptations I know of that treat on the easily-forgotten religious angles of Dracula’s evil, and it also retains the physical angle seen when Van Helsing and crew tried to deduce how to stop it. Actually, Dracula 1 + 2 favour a mechanical approach over a scientific one, which makes things even more unique. The game really sells the idea that you might be able to find a physical key to a physical hell!
The clue about St. George is useless unless you’re familiar with iconography of the saint, since the game refuses to zoom into Georgie’s picture until after you’ve solved the puzzle. Nevertheless, this hint refers to the mosaic in the cemetery, the one hinted by the will-o-wisp: it turns out the bier depicts St. George slaying the dragon, a metaphor for victory over the devil, and a particularly relevant one for Dracula, a name that means “Son of the Dragon” in his particular case. This comparison is worth getting into because it’s actually going to come up a few times in the first three games. If you know your vampire fiction history, Dracula is almost certainly based on Vlad III Dracula (otherwise known as Vlad III Tepes, meaning “Impaler”), and the name “Dracula” comes from his father, Vlad II Dracul of the Order of the Dragon of the Holy Roman Empire. Even Stoker arguably made a dragon and St. George reference, sending Jonathan to Castle Dracula on St. George’s Eve.
Use the pick on the stone bier below the will-o-wisp, and Jonathan discovers the “Dragon Ring” underneath. The digging scene is scored with a good deal of extra gravitas, as you’ve just collected the most important item in the duology. It’s a heavy iron ring, about a foot and a half in diameter, depicting a dragon biting its own tail in an ouroboros, which the devs seemingly based on historical reconstructions of Order of the Dragon iconography (though the game never makes this explicit, even though it seems like something it would!). This little toy will prove extremely valuable, and serves as the embodiment of the series’ bridging of magic, religion and science.
The Dragon’s Ring fills up the final slot in the conversation lists for both Barina and Mischa, so you know the chapter is coming to its head. Mischa introduces you to the dragon/devil and “Son of the Dragon” motifs I just explained above, adding that “The dragon is the guardian of the gates of hell!” Barina wants nothing to do with the thing, and paraphrases a few of Dracula’s own lines from the book concerning the will-o-wisp. In the book, Dracula claims that the will-o-wisps indicate the hidden locations of treasure buried by man-made avalanches used in wartime, and says that no one has found the treasure because the will-o-wisps only appear on St. George’s Eve and everyone’s too afraid to go digging. In this version, Barina says that the treasures were buried deliberately to hide them from invaders, and were subsequently cursed as added protection. “Get that ring away from me!” she shouts with dire sincerity, before instantly reverting to her still image self with a broad smile on her face.
That’s it, then, it’s time to investigate the cellar. You’ll need both of the tools Barina’s husband left you. First off: the lighter to light a candle that overlooks the cellar (making it a little tricky to find if you’re looking for a solution at ground level). You’ll then discover that the great cask in the basement is actually carved with dragons and includes a locked panel you can open with the key from the drawer. This opens up a mechanism, which it turns out you can activate with the Dragon’s Ring. The ring works like this, all of it accomplished in a single click for convenience’s sake: the ring can be pulled apart where the mouth bites the tail, and can then be set around a wheel mechanism so that both of its hands (fore and rear) grab onto certain handles. This then causes the wheel to turn for whatever reason. Decide for yourself if it’s turning because of poorly explained mechanics or magic, this game is blurring the line deliberately for once. The game then allows you to retrieve the ring before whatever machinery activates, which is even less logical. The barrel’s lid, in this case, pivots to allow entrance, revealing the barrel is just a bluff, an empty tunnel leading into the tunnels we heard about from Mischa. One has to imagine that Barina and her husband bought or inherited the inn from others if they had this giant, useless tun in their basement and never questioned it!
Anyways, you barely poke around in the tunnels for long before you find a door, another dragon icon, and another Dragon Ring mechanism. This opens the door and leads you out of the “Metallum” door from the overworld. That’s it! That was “hell!” We hope you enjoyed your tour!
Disappointment aside, we’re now past Viorel, and can sneak back to the cabin by the lake. The other key from Iorga’s keychain will get you inside like you might have expected, and you find an elevator inside, clumsily disguised as a barrel-storing… closet? Yeah, nice try you three. The barrels are propped up at seemingly the last minute by a crowbar, which you take, sending them bouncing out. Unfortunately, you haven’t ridden the elevator for more than a few seconds before Viorel, having presumably spotted you, goes to the rope that controls the elevator (outside the cabin), and chops it down, sending you crashing. Jonathan survives of course, but is trapped down here, starting chapter 2, the smallest of the game’s three.
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