Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon – To Not Hit the Broad Side of a Barn

We return to Vladoviste for Day 4, and as soon as you take as step in the original, Arno states his objectives: speak to Janos and Stephan, and also check the inn to see if he got any mail, aka the book from the Friends of the Vatican Library, which has arrived with all the speed of modern priority shipping. Okay, okay, “Day 4” is actually a label from the remake, and while it’s convenient for player and Retrospective purposes, it’s probably been a bit longer than that. Even in the modern day it takes quite a few hours to get from Budapest to Alba Iulia, so even if I can’t account for historical train times. Arno might have even stayed in Budapest for a few days! Since the book was never ordered in the remake, and since Janos outright doesn’t appear in the remake’s version of Day 4 (presumably for space reasons), this message was removed outright, accidentally removing the reminder to speak to Stephan. Don’t forget that Arno always wants to speak to von Krüger!

Ozana doesn’t come to the door when you arrive back, nor does she respond to the bell (in the remake, Arno will say something to discourage you from repeatedly hitting the bell, but the original will only do so if you impatiently hit the bell again before it’s finished ringing, which you aren’t likely to do! I only found it because I was confused to find a “new” line in the remake and tried anything I could to confirm if it really was new!). In the original, you hear Stephan Luca whistling in the hall when you reach the phone, and Arno chooses to visit him. In the remake, Arno deduces Stephan is here with his psychic powers or something, because there’s no whistling! Stephan’s thrilled to hear that Irina believes in vampires and, in his usual way, instantly assumes you’re going to go with him now! Man, this puppy of a character, let me tell you. When Arno says he’ll “think about it,” Stephan realizes the truth of the matter and says that he’ll have to go to Turkey alone. After all his exposition dumps and persistence, this almost seems to happen too early. What, did you run out of money for the voice actor and had to cut it somewhere?

If you talk to Stephan again, you get another bit of dialogue: Stephan admits that he’s scared to go to Turkey. He says that he has a St. Dimitri medal that normally gives him comfort (Dimitri is the patron saint of Romania), but he’d appreciate Arno’s blessing as well. Arno tells him that he’s already blessed Stephan’s room under Ozana’s insistence, and this seems to reassure Stephan… but frankly, only a little.

Before we head upstairs, let’s ring up Professor von Krüger like Arno suggested. This is where remake players will get their copy of the conversation from Day 2, merged into this one and creating another massive exposition dump! And remember that Arno does not had a reason to call him in the remake thanks to the removal of that line from the end of Day 3, meaning this entire conversation comes out of thin air and could very easily throw a player off until they look at the phone at random! Whatever, let’s get down to it. We’ll skip the remake’s coverage of old news and get to the point where Arno and von Krüger discuss Irina’s “vampires are probably real, in a certain sense of the word” argument. In the original, you get to throw Irina’s arguments at him in any order you want, but the remake forces you to discuss each in turn, each removing the old item from the list, which isn’t a bad solution considering that version’s menu limitations!

The majority of this section isn’t very enlightening to anyone who knows their vampire nonfic, since Arno largely sticks to Irina’s historical points instead of her conspiracy theories and most of her beliefs about the future. If you’re new to this stuff, well, von Krüger talks about how bodies decompose in a way that makes them look like “vampires,” and adds how some people were tragically buried alive due to the poor quality of medicine at the time (which he stresses still happens in 1920). It’s all a sad, sometimes tragic combination of factors that happen when the human fear of the unknown slams up against the unknowns of a world before modern biology and medicine, with the genuinely unpleasant realities of death and decay to make things even worse. Give the subject a read or a watch someday, though if you already have, von Krüger has nothing illuminating to say.

Asking about the Path of the Dragon, von Krüger balks at the pomposity of the name and then blows off all manner of occult practices, adding our first doubt to the possibility that he’s the “H v K” who sent The Lords of Twilight. In the original, you can also ask him about the Thule Society, only for the game to amateurishly repeat the voice quote from the previous question! The remake cut the question entirely, which was probably best, even if it is important for von Krüger to (inadvertently) imply that he’s not “H v K.”

Arno will also talk to von Krüger about prophecies in brief, and von Krüger says the laws of averages and confirmation bias will ensure someone could find patterns in the chaos of letters. In the remake, he stops his analysis here, but in the original, he drags out his own copy of the Hidden Apocalypse and turns to what we see as page 3, starting to come up with more “prophecies.” The joke here is that of course his “random” prophecies are also predicting real events, but first we (optionally) have to find the damned stuff again, which includes another Roman numeral date and another Latin phrase. God this is stupid (how are we even interacting with the word search this time? Arno doesn’t have the book! Is von Krüger reading it off the word search letter by letter?). Von Kramer points out the words could be used to predict all manner of things, but a modern viewer will likely recognize that his third prediction is the truth: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

If you choose to, original game players can even page through three more word searches in the documents menu, though they’re wholly optional and if they actually have any answers in them, I’ve never seen any results online. God knows I can’t find any myself.

In addition to all this debunking, original game players can also ask von Krüger about two other subjects. If you’ve played games with Luana, he’ll explain her cons for you. They’re simple probability, of course. The card game is simple: the odds favour you if you bet on the visible colour. If you know your math you may have worked that out after your first read of my description, it’s not exactly the harder of the two games. The dice game he compares to a slightly-RNG-based game of rock-paper-scissors: while there’s always a chance of losing, “in general, yellow [four 3s and two 12s] beats black [four 7s and two 1s] and black beats white [always 5].” Believe it or not, this digression isn’t a total non sequiter for the sake of a minigame, but we’ll get to that later.

Lastly, Arno can once again consult von Krüger as a doctor, telling him about his acute hearing, and also an acute sense of smell that we haven’t witnessed on-screen yet. von Krüger has an explanation even for these: fatigue, nerves (like Arno was consulting him about on Day 2), or even an allergy, and suggests you call if it turns out it is an allergy and gets worse!

If you call Irina Boscow, she confirms she sent the file on the Thule society and that you’ll receive it soon, and then passes on the message I already told you about not being able to find a gramophone that fits the cylinder you found in Van Bergen’s safe (in the remake, for whatever reason, this message is not present).

After you’re done there, you might go up to your room in the inn, and sure enough, there’s the book you ordered. Geschichte Dracole Waide is of course entirely in German, but by hovering over its text with your mouse, you get a translation, paragraph by paragraph. The book includes some of the extreme acts of torture and violence attributed to the voivode (which again, might have been propaganda, we can’t know). By the way, even though you never requested this book in the remake? It still shows up on your desk here on Day 4, and is required reading in the long run, even though you can’t know it’s here! Thankfully, you may notice it when you wake up in your room at the dawn of Day 5, as it’s not required until then.

The book opens with a picture of a fox leaving its den that the book fails to contextualize beyond calling it “Fox’s Flight.” The style is authentically medieval, and I can’t decide if they’re actual contemporary works of art or developer embellishments. Still, credit to the artists, you know? The book then starts talking about Vlad’s executions, mass impalements, poisonings, and so on. The book’s second picture concerns him feasting as he had a church burned down with all occupants alive. If you look closely, you might notice some writing, and if you make the intuitive leap to check it out with the magnifying glass, Arno will translate: “The purifying fire will be your servant.” Looks like you found another clue to the Path, and in a Vatican publication no less! But we already knew this book was a copy of the original manuscript, right? This hidden detail is not in the iOS/Steam version. The third picture concerns the famous anecdote (so famous that it’s sometimes told as happening with entirely different historical villains), of Vlad nailing hats to a group of Turkish ambassador’s heads after they refused to doff them in his presence.

Before you go to Janos, you might want to wander around town talking to others. Iordan doesn’t have anything new to say, and Maria has nothing interesting (and so the remake cut her boring new line entirely!), but original game players can find Ozana praying at Martha’s grave. She sounds rather desperate and is praying for more business, and somewhat stammers out another miracle accredited to Martha as if to encourage Arno to make a favourable case. It’s a nice bit of colour. The remake removed the entire optional sequence, making Ozana’s mysterious disappearance at the desk completely unexplained! Wow, this day is a mess in that version!

In the original game, you can also talk to Ionel, who’s moved to one of the streets ruined by shelling during WWI. Yes, this is the spot where the remake can accidentally, albeit only partially, glitch into if you click the right spot, but like I just said, Ionel doesn’t show up until later in the game, and when he does, the flow of conversation is distinct, so I’ll address the remake later. Ionel is still playing with his clay disk, and Arno asks about it, and one thing leading to another, you end up playing a minigame with him. The idea is to throw the disc as close to a wall without outright touching it. Ionel’s results are random but usually pretty solid, which can be frustrating, but since he offers to go first, you always know that results you have to beat, and there’s a chance that he might hit the wall and give you the point for free. The actual gameplay seems to involve holding down the mouse button as Arno moves his hand through the throwing motion. You want to release the mouse just as he reaches the end of his animation to get the ideal distance. Be careful, as overshooting the throw doesn’t just put you at risk of hitting the wall, but you can even overshoot by such a degree that Arno resets his throw animation, causing you to throw extremely short instead of extremely far!

If you win, or thankfully even if you lose three times, Ionel will offer to let you look in his bag of treasures (if you enjoyed the minigame, or are annoyed after losing, the game remains available for play more-or-less indefinitely). A decorative star, lots of nice marbles and rocks, a harmonica, all of which Arno is friendly and complimentary about. He also has a silver needle delicately kept apart by a sheet of paper (you know, to avoid stabbing). Ionel offers to let you have this one. Since you don’t strictly need the needle on Day 4, you can put off this interaction until later, which is why the remake puts off the entire conversation! After collecting the needle, you also see Ionel’s slingshot, which he’s quite fond of, but for no reason offers to trade for it. Unfortunately, even if you meticulously work your way through your inventory offering him one thing after another, you’ll never find a trade that he likes at this point in the game. Besides: Adventure game instincts aside, why do you even want a slingshot at the moment?

The conversation with Janos, entirely removed from the remake, isn’t very substantial, but I think it still has some important lines. Frankly, I can’t help but wonder if maybe the remake cut it because Janos spends the day digging in the mass grave, and that would have forced them to include a new animation! Janos seems interested in the biography of Vlad that he mentioned to you the previous day, but Arno informs him that he got the German copy instead. When he asks Janos about Vlad’s numerous acts of cruelty, he repeats the point I’ve been making about propaganda, and even tries to get Arno on his side by pointing out that Vlad also got a lot flak – and possibly these propaganda stories – for converting to Roman Catholocism from Orthodoxy. But he’s also weirdly defensive about the whole thing. Turning to one incident in particular, the mass murder of numerous noble families down to the children, he doesn’t deny it so much as say the nobles were traitors to Vlad’s predecessors, including his brother and father. Arno gets a little stern and says: “That’s… one view of things.” Janos just blows off your attempt to talk about the Thule society, saying once again that he’s not interested in esoteric crap.

After talking to everyone (“everyone” varying by version), you get to call Briganti to update him on your report. Arno tells Briganti about Irina’s odd behaviour, and Briganti gives a line to Arno that throws his “kindly priest” persona aside to reveal the ruthless bureaucrat he is inside, with a leaning: “I do hope that you intend to conclude the way we expect…” Arno is unmoved by this unpleasantness and say he’s going to start writing tonight. Briganti suggests you maybe stay in Vladoviste for a proper vacation after you’re done, and then say he’s going to take his own vacation starting tomorrow. You won’t be able to call him again for the rest of the game.

We fade to black, and Arno tells us that he completed the entire report in one drawn-out night. God, this is going to be more of a pamphlet than a full report, isn’t it? I hope Briganti’s satisfied with the shallow gloss, my man. Unfortunately, he has another nightmare after the fact. Just like on night 1, he dreams of a woman calling at his window… except this time it’s Maria’s voice, and she’s calling for him. Like the dream of the first night, he doesn’t see anyone until footsteps go up to his door. The game gives the impression that the footsteps enter his room instead of the one next door, but it does it by having the pre-rendered cutscene from night 1 end a few second early, so “Maria” must enter the door… sideways? I don’t really know what word to attach to this little kludge. Call it a gap in my critical vocabulary, but I know that it makes me laugh, so I’ll just tell you that, instead.

Sure enough, the next thing we know, Maria is in Arno’s bedroom, repeating the “touching her neck” animation from the dream on the train. She has a weird halo around her, which I can’t help but suspect was a stylistic way of hiding the fact that they just cropped her out of a daylight scene. The animation continues, however, and we see her touch a medallion that she’s never been seen wearing in real life: a gold medallion with a skull, a little blatantly alike to the cursed coins from Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. C’mon Kheops, it was an international blockbuster, you can’t just throw it into your game and expect no one to notice! Maria then fades away, but the necklace remains and falls, Arno catching it in confusion.

We cut to the stormy night outside, and the sound and flash of a gunshot flares from the neighbouring room.

Prev: Dracula 3: The Path of the Dragon – Exposition 2, Academic Boogaloo
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