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Dracula: Reign of Terror is an interesting empire management game from Sweden that deserves more attention than it got for the unique setting alone - although flawed design and repetitive gameplay may explain its obscurity. Set in historical fifteenth century Transylvania, the game puts you in the shoes of Count Vlad Dracula, whose grisly tales inspired Bram Stoker's timeless novel. As the game begins, the Turkish army had just invaded the shores of Valachy, your homeland. Leading a small number of freedom fighters, your objective is to recapture your country and repel the invaders.
Dracula is more similar to empire management games like Lords of the Realm than real-time strategy games like Warcraft, although real-time tactical battles constitute a big part of the game. Billed as a "role playing adventure," the game is actually a straightforward strategy game with a mix of strategic and tactical levels. On the strategic level, you must manage production of the 13 counties of Valachy (once you recapture them), train units, and direct troop movements on the regional map. On the tactical level, you will lead your troops in the field in combat, utilizing a wide varieties including cannons, catapults, swordsmen, crossbowmen, and knights. Despite the unique premise that offers a lot of material, the game takes no advantage of that at all. It would have been interesting, for example, if I could capture and torture my prisoners the way Count Vlad would have done - and appeasing the masses in his country should be much more challenging than a normal strategy game ;)
The gameplay is decent, although it offers neither the strong economic model of Lords of the Realm, nor the fun frantic action of Warcraft. The result is a lackluster game that falls somewhere in between and will appeal to neither camp. ComputerHouse deserves kudos for choosing a very interesting and unique premise to set their game - too bad the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Not recommended, but here's hoping some new developers will pick up the mantle so we can see what being Dracula is really like, without the fangs.
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Dracula: Reign of Terror (a.k.a. Vlad Tepes Dracula) screenshot
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