Written by Joe Pranevich
Welcome back to Dracula Unleashed! Last time out, we successfully survived the first night! Thanks to some “brute force” tactics on my part to find some difficult-to-find scenes, plus a realization how items really worked in the game, we were able to prevent Anisette from succumbing to whatever was transforming her into the Woman in White. Of course, Alexander is blissfully ignorant of all of this; we the player know there are vampires running around and that “bloofer ladies” are real, but he does not, and we start the second day with him still in the dark as to the cause of his brother’s death.
Before I get going, let’s discuss strategy. For this post, I plan to play the second day straight. I will follow plot threads where they lead me, notate everything that emerges organically from play, and tell you all about it. If I die early or quickly, I’ll restore, but my goal will be to make it to the end of the second day in as “normal” a way as possible. Depending on whether this post ends with me sleeping soundly or dead, I’ll figure out what comes next. If I need to spend the next entry brute forcing to find things that I missed, I’ll do it then.
I am having a ton of fun with this game and enjoying it more than I thought I would. It doesn’t play like a typical adventure and I expect that many players could have been turned off by that (especially the need to save/restore to try different items), but once you know it and understand it, it works. This feels like a new adventure genre (to me) and a different kind of fun from most of the other games I play here.
I awake at 6:55 AM, ready for the day.
Since I took a week off to finish Nord and Bert, let me refresh you (and me) with the current state of the game at the end of Day 1:
- Anisette, Alexander’s fiancée, is resting comfortably and being watched by Juliet after her scare yesterday. Alexander doesn’t know that she nearly killed him, but we do. Juliet seems nice, but somehow has a deeper understanding of what went on with Anisette’s father’s death than she should. She says she dreamed it, but it matches both the depictions of the “Woman in White” and the white cloth that I found in Anisette’s father’s hand.
- Jonathan and Mina Harker are cordial but distant, not wanting to let Alexander in. Bringing the birthday present for Quincy to them cracked their facade a tiny bit– and they supplied the cross necklace that keeps Anisette safe– but they are very standoffish, especially Jonathan.
- Arthur Holmwood and his wife are a mystery. Alexander and Arthur must be friends because he brought us into the Hades Club, but we barely see him on the first day as they are dealing with the murder of their coachman.
- Goldacre hates me and resents that I have been brought into the Hades Club.
- Mr. Stranzikowski is a drunk member of the Hades Club who feels that the ghost of his ex-wife prowls the streets of London looking for him. Given the nature of the story, he could be right.
- Horner is Goldacre’s partner at the bookshop. Horner is coded as gay and it’s unclear if he and Goldacre are a couple or just business-mates. He helps us learn more about the macabre things going on by giving us a book about Evil.
- Dr. Seward is the head doctor at a nearby asylum. He wants to see me after breakfast in the morning.
I wake today at 6:55 AM. Given that we left Juliet watching over Anisette, and Anisette has been known to transform into a sexy white killing machine, that should be where I go first. I expect to find either Juliet dead or still comforting Anisette, but what I find is not quite what I expected.
I hope you don’t mind, I went crazy overnight.
When we last saw Anisette and Juliet, Juliet was the strong one. She was quirky and possibly a bit into religion or mysticism, but she was there to comfort her friend whose father had just died. Today, we find her brushing her hair and humming. Anisette comments that she has become very pale and is talking about “strange things”. She was even sleepwalking last night! This conversation implies that Anisette and Juliet have slept in the same house together often, but they cannot be roommates as this was Anisette’s father’s house. Exactly what is their relationship? Juliet tells us of her dream last night, very similar to the night before: she saw Andrew in the afterlife and he wants Anisette to know that he is happy and finally free of the worries that plagued him in life. Anisette is suspicious of the dream, remarking that Juliet’s depiction of her father doesn’t at all match how he was in life. Juliet retorts that he is “free from pain” and “flying with the angels” now and can be his true self. Before Anisette can respond, Juliet collapses and Anisette escorts her to the room’s sole, very large, bed. Alexander believes that Juliet is just exhausted from sleepwalking and they all leave to allow her to rest.
Anisette seems so much more confident now than yesterday; she and Juliet have switched places about which of them is taking care of the other. It also suggests that perhaps Juliet has some of the undead “infection” that Anisette had, if she’s becoming pale and talking crazy. Could Anisette have infected her before being “cured” by the necklace? Is Anisette cured or will she relapse as soon as she takes off the necklace? Frustratingly, Alexander doesn’t know any of this and we as players are left yelling at the screen about obvious things. It’s a shame that we don’t have an address for Juliet’s house yet.
If only London had detectives better than Scotland Yard!
My first real stop of the day is to the newsstand for the daily gossip. The newspaper man tells me that there has been another murder: a woman in King’s Cross. This one however is different as she was drained of blood but not beheaded. He theorizes that the villain is working more quickly now because he (or she) knows that Scotland Yard is catching up to them. I wish I could be so confident.
Our notebook highlights three key articles:
- Andrew Bowen’s obituary. Anisette’s father will be interred at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Paddington at 10:00 AM. This article reveals that Anisette is only 19, although the actress looks older. In contrast, Alexander is 24.
- Death of Mary Blythe. A woman was drained of blood near St. Pancras/King’s Cross. I don’t believe we know anything about her, unlike the coachman’s death the night before.
- “Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Lyceum. I don’t know why Alexander is thinking of attending a play, but if we go it’s at 9:00 PM. I don’t have the Lyceum address yet. In real life, the famous Lyceum Theater is in Westminster and was a popular venue for plays in 1899.
Reading the articles gives me one new address but not two: we now know where the cemetery is! The funeral is in an hour so we should rush to head there next.
Jinkies! A spooky cemetery!
Unfortunately, I arrive late: 10:10 AM. Instead of a funeral, I discover only a few vagrants or grave diggers that offer to help me find a specific grave before laughing at some private joke. Maybe the joke is that they’d rather throw me in one? I try coming in while holding the rose (flowers for a funeral?), but that doesn’t help.
I know that I said I would play this straight, but missing the funeral seems like a big deal. I start the day over, but it’s tough to get there much earlier. I cannot skip the newsstand or I don’t get the address, so I have to not see Anisette first. Maybe I needed to sleep earlier the night before to wake up before 6:55? In any event, I arrive earlier and even manage to time it so that I go in at exactly 10:00 AM (with and without the rose), but nothing changes the scene and I just encounter those gravediggers over and over again. The paper didn’t say what day the funeral was, but if it just says 10:00 AM, you’d think that would be today. Perhaps I need to do something else first?
This is one of the more elaborate sets.
I might be mistaken, but this is so far the only actor of color that I have seen in this game.
Incidentally, there does not appear to have been a real “St. Joseph’s Cemetery” in that part of London, but there is one a few miles to the west near Wembley. That cemetery opened in or shortly after 1899 and so wouldn’t have been "old" by the time of our game. I haven’t been commenting on all of the addresses, but I have been checking them all as I go to see which ones are real and which are fake. Regretfully, just about none of the street addresses exist and I suspect the ones that do are just coincidences.
I promised Dr. Seward that I would see him “after breakfast’, so that should be my next stop. The cemetery and asylum are both located in Paddington, so it’s just a five-minute jaunt over to see him.
When I arrive, Dr. Seward introduces me to one of the patients that have been keeping him the most busy: Renfield. When we find him, he is shouting that “the blood is the life” and struggling in a partly-fastened straightjacket. He tells us that “it has come back” just as Alexander’s keen investigative senses discover an obvious-looking set of animal prints in the room. It appears that a large dog with muddy paws walked from the window to the bed and then back again. Dr. Seward seems to think that Renfield was able to sneak an animal into his room, but Alexander dismisses this as there is no way to fake muddy prints in a room with no mud. Dr. Seward urges Alexander not to underestimate the mind of the insane, but I’m with Alexander on this one. Mid-sentence, Seward seems to pause in a realization or a memory. He quickly shoves us out the door so that he can return to work.
Patient conditions are not that great at this asylum.
Standing outside the patient’s room, he states that he cannot tell us anything about Quincey’s death– but he chooses his words carefully. He doesn’t say that he doesn’t know more, only that he cannot say. He hands us a card from his old mentor, Dr. Abraham van Helsing, and says that he may be able to help. Indeed, he has been a “help” already! Van Helsing is the voice of the game’s in-game help system, describing the interface and how to play the game.
I head to my carriage to see him next, but his address is not in my book. I check the card and discover that he lives in Amsterdam! That is a bit too far for a London taxi to go, unfortunately. I resolve to do the next best thing and send him a telegram.
The scene at the telegraph office is nearly identical to yesterday’s, when we sent to Father Janos. We can find the text of the message in our notebook:
I was given your card by Dr. Seward. I have urgent need of your assistance. I am the brother of Quincey Morris. Please reply.
Since they had to pay by the letter back then, Alexander doesn’t mention the animal footprints, the beheaded people, or the Woman in White. I don’t know that will be quite enough of an introduction, but we’ll see what van Helsing replies. It’s 12:15 and the morning is already gone. Where should we go next?
“Hemophobia” is the fear of blood.
Checking my map, the telegraph office is in the same part of town as the bookstore. I head there next. Arriving at the store, Alexander selects and buys a book by Byron for £1. While paying Mr. Horner at the till, the white cloth as it falls out of Alexander’s pocket. (This scene triggers whether or not I have the item “in hand”.) Horner's reaction is curious: he seems interested, but then claims to know nothing about it when pressed by Alexander. He suggests that we take it to the university to be examined instead. That seems like a lot of work for a harmless piece of cloth, but Horner’s interest is puzzling. We know that he’s familiar with the arcane, does he know more about this than he is letting on? And, if so, why send it to the university?
While paying, Alexander gets a papercut on his thumb and it begins to bleed. Horner is immediately interested, drawn to the blood, perhaps even afraid of the blood. Alexander insists that it is just a minor cut and no big deal, but Horner replies that it is “never minor where blood is concerned”. Is he a vampire? Recovering blood-addict? Our journal suggests goes with him being afraid of blood. His reaction is a clue that something is odd about him, but it’s hard to say what.
As I leave the bookshop, I start thinking too much about the cost of the book. ICOM most likely didn’t have ready access to a Bank of England inflation calculator (being from the American midwest), but we live in the future and we certainly do. That calculator tells us that £1 in 1899 is worth £98 today, or around $188 in US dollars. That is a lot of money for a book! Are we to infer that this was a valuable first-edition of a work by Byron and Alexander is just throwing scads of cash around? Or is ICOM just a bit off and we should imagine this as the cost of a cheap paperback? The game doesn’t even tell us which book by Byron we bought! The works of Lord Byron (1788-1824) were likely well-known to Bram Stoker and Dracula is believed to have drawn from his archetypes. Renfield, for example, may have been inspired by the seemingly insane character of “Manfred” in Byron’s epic poem of the same name. What does the price and name of the book have to do with the story? Very little, but I have trouble hitting these details in our games without wanting to learn more. We should start a drinking game of every time I get distracted by a background element in a game and go down a rabbit hole.
A beautiful, if generically named, house of higher education in London.
We keep on knocking but we can’t come in.
I head immediately to the university, but the door is locked. It appears (from the door) as if we’re trying to see a person named Randall Briarcliffe, but I don’t know who that is. Presumably, he is the expert recommended by Mr. Horner, but it was not explicit. It’s 1:25 PM. Do I need to come back at a different time? Where should I go in the meantime? Since the University is in Kensington, it’s near the Hades Club. I’ll make that my next stop. I’ll be back later to see if the professor, or whomever this is, returns.
I have too many of these distractions, but I paused here to see if I could work out what University the game is referring to. (And... drink!) Obviously, there are numerous ones in London, both old and modern. In the Sherlock Holmes games, Holmes visited London University for clues at least once (in “The Mummy’s Curse”) and the location in Dracula Unleashed looks similar… in so far as two rooms with similar looking stenciled doors shot on a soundstages in Minnesota can look like each other. In Sherlock Holmes, the University was in Westminster while here it is in Kensington, but I suspect that if this is intended to represent any real-world location, that would be it. The address that is given in this game on Queen's Gate road is not a real-world university, but is around one block away from one of the buildings of the Imperial College London. That school became part of the University of London in 1908, but was still independent in 1899. I’ll leave it up to you whether you think this is a reference to their previous game, a one-block and 9-year error for the real London University, or just a complete coincidence that they came close. For my money, I’m betting the latter.
Look at how rich and uncaring I am!
Back at the Hades Club, I see Mr. Goldacre there again. Alexander asks if he is the Goldacre of the “Goldacre & Horner Bookshop”. He says that he is, but follows up by continuing to be an ass to Alexander, asking in return whether Alexander has started reading in a vain hope of becoming “cultured”. Alexander says that he was at the store and thought that Goldacre’s partner is an odd fellow. Goldacre replies that Horner serves a purpose, but that the store is only a hobby of his and means no more to him than the coin that he has been playing with throughout their conversation. He tosses Alexander the coin and the scene ends.
There is a lot to unpack here! Our journal says that the coin is solid gold. Some searching suggests that the coin would be worth the equivalent of $1500-2000 today if it was indeed solid gold, but Alexander doesn’t seem to have an idea whether it is or not. The big takeaway is that Goldacre has money and isn’t afraid to toss it to people he despises. The second thing is how dismissive Goldacre is of his bookshop, calling it just a hobby. Is that true? I’m suspicious. His name is on the door first, yet he seems to have offered it to Horner to run. Horner, we learned the previous day, is also a member of the Hades Club. It feels like Horner and Goldacre have something more than a professional relationship and the bookshop is perhaps a gift or a sign of that relationship. I could be reading too much into this, but Horner is pretty explicitly played as gay and it’s suspicious just how quickly Goldacre jumped to expensive denials. This may not even prove to be relevant to the game, but it’s enough to make you wonder. On the other hand, Horner could be being acted as gay because of villain-coding (see my note on that from Moonmist) and it really is a business co-owned by two potentially evil heterosexual men.
While you were reading yet another digression, I checked the university again and it’s still locked.
The baby’s luggage is a briefcase? No diaper bags in Victorian England?
Checking my map, the closest place that I haven’t been to yet today is Jonathan Harker’s home. I head there and find Mina inside, but Jonathan is out. As we prepare to leave, Alexander notices a suitcase by the door and asks if they plan to travel. Mina replies that they are sending Quincey away to live with his grandparents for a time. Alexander finds it strange that they would send their kid away during the holidays, but Mina insists that the countryside is beautiful. Alexander seems convinced as he tells Mina that “grandparents thrive on the smiles of their grandchildren”. That’s a nice turn of phrase!
Alexander thanks Mina for the gift to Anisette. Mina seems surprised for a moment, perhaps not realizing that Jonathan had given something away, but she recovers quickly. She lets us know that the necklace is an old family heirloom and hopes that it gives Anisette comfort. Her words seem giving but her expression clearly reads that she intends to throttle Jonathan when he gets home for giving away her family heirlooms without permission.
Where to next? Our closest unvisited place is Holmwood’s home.
Tea is a truly civilized drink.
At the Holmwood residence, Alexander sits down for tea and a chat. This is our first extended interaction with Arthur since the first scene of the game as he was first distracted by the death of his carriage driver and then was not around in the evening. They swap condolences: Alexander for Holmwood’s murdered driver, he for Anisette’s father. Holmwood says that there has not been so much sadness in their lives since Quincey’s passing.
Alexander leaps on this to ask how Quincey died. Holmwood tells us that we would be proud: while traveling with the Holmwoods, their group was attacked by “common criminals”. Quincy rose to the defense of the group, but was shot and killed for his heroism. “He was a good man, your brother. His death meant more to me than you know.”
Quincey is murdered by a “common criminal”.
Obviously, this is a lie, but Holmwood includes just enough comforting truth: Quincey died a hero. I don’t recall precisely how he died in the novel, but I’m pretty sure it involved Dracula’s minions. But why is Holmwood lying? Obviously, he and Alexander would be good friends if he sponsored him into the Hades Club. Is it that he doesn’t want to introduce Alexander into the world of the supernatural? Or that he thinks he wouldn’t believe him? Alternatively, is it possible that Holmwood himself doesn’t recall the events of ten years prior clearly? Is there some sort of geas on the group that they have started to forget the details of Dracula’s attack? (In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, normal people that came into contact with the supernatural would tend to forget it quickly or write it off. That show won’t be on for another 4 years, but I don’t know if that was already a part of vampire lore that this game could draw on.)
In his journal, Alexander is relieved that his brother’s deaths were not like the recent ones in London (how ironic!) and questions why Father Janos is so worried. This whole entry seems like a setup that I should have been able to get Holmwood to tell us the truth, if only I knew how. I briefly restore and try a few items, but none change the scene. (Yes, I said I wouldn’t do this, but this scene screams out as if we’re missing something.)
There are only two unvisited places left: the Saucy Jack pub and Harker’s office. I try the pub first.
Let’s get drunk and sing about death!
Inside the Saucy Jack, many of the patrons are gathered together to sign a happy bar song! Except, it’s not a happy song: it’s a bouncy song about a guy that goes out into the night and is attacked by the Bloofer Lady. They toast each other as they sing that he “bled, and bled, and bled”. Alexander complains to the bartender that the song is in poor taste, but she tells him that is how people react when they are scared. We hear the wolf howling again in the distance, the same as the night before. The scene ends.
I rush over to Harker’s office, but he’s not in. What follows is a mad scramble to find something new to do as I check there and the university, head home to look for telegrams (there are none), and then back to Anisette who is also unavailable. There is nothing obvious to do and no more leads to chase. Before I know it, the time is 7:15 PM. If there’s going to be a nighttime death, it may be coming soon.
Too drunk to pour the whiskey.
Exploring at random, I find a new scene at the Hades Club. This time, Goldacre is getting himself drunk on the fancy booze. He asks whether we’ve been to Anisette and whether Juliet is still there. He seems worried– possibly even infatuated– by Juliet. What is she to him? I’m worried this throws my whole “Goldacre is secretly gay” theory out the window, although I suppose bisexuals existed in both 1889 and 1993. Alexander suggests that Goldacre go and visit her himself, but this sets him off and his attitude changes from “sad drunk” to “angry drunk”. “Who are you to lecture me?” he yells. We just thought that he should check on her if he is worried, but his final retort is golden: “Listen, you insolent pup. You have seen nothing, have done nothing, and you are nothing. Lecture me when you grow up.” Mic drop.
He’s right though: we have no idea what is going on. Holmwood is lying, Dr. Seward and the Harkers are being evasive, and Goldacre is practically rubbing our nose into not knowing what is really happening with the vampires. We can tell in each of these scenes that Alexander senses that there is more, but he cannot put a finger on it.
The cemetery is locked at night.
Our journal entry for the episode seems vindictive: Alexander has “half a mind to teach him a proper lesson”. Is that a clue that I should get confrontational? Heading back in with the knife or the blackjack does nothing; all we see is a snoring Mr. Stranzikowski. I even try restoring back and going in with those the first time, but that causes no change. At his suggestion, I head back to Anisette’s home, but she is still unavailable. No change.
I’m still stuck. I keep going from place to place trying to find any new scene or anything new to do, but I fail on every count. With nothing else to do, I go to sleep at 10:40 PM. .
How did we develop such different accents?
That night, Alexander has another nightmare. He visits the Saucy Jack, only to find his brother Quincey there playing darts. He’s quite good at it, too! We watch as he easily scores bullseye after bullseye. Alexander rushes over shouting that his brother is dead. (This sequence is clearly filmed with Bill Williamson playing both parts in split-screen.)
Quincey, speaking with a much heavier Texas accent, admirers his brother and remarks on how much older he looks now. He offers Alexander a drink and to “belly up”, but instead of getting one from the bar, he plunges a knife into his own chest and begins to fill a cup with his own blood. Good thing the video quality is so poor because this would give me nightmares! Alexander runs in terror before waking up in his own bed. He writes in his journal that the “circumstances of Quincey’s death plagues me throughout the day and haunts me at night”. It feels like this is a hint I should know more by now, but I don’t know what I missed. (And don’t forget that Alexander took months off from his investigation while he was wooing Anisette; he only resumed his search after her father died.)
Hey look! I’m dead again.
I didn’t need to wait long to see what happens next. Alexander barely wakes up before he discovers a woman in white crying in the street. He rushes over to comfort her (it’s not Anisette this time), but she holds him down and bites. We’re dead again and we have a new Woman in White! She doesn’t look like Anisette or Juliet so who could she be?
All in all, this wasn’t a fruitful day. I solved very few mysteries, although I did pick up a few new objects. I’ll need to figure out who this new “Bloofer Lady” is and stop her, though I have no idea how to do it. Could this be Mary Blythe, the woman from the paper? And if so, how can I track her down and stop her? I’ll try to break this apart in more detail next time to find what I missed.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post and didn’t mind my diversions too much. I’m starting to research Plundered Hearts now, but as it is a very special game made by Infocom’s only female Implementor, I want to ensure that I get the story straight. Next time is likely to be more Dracula Unleashed, unless I get stuck and cannot make any progress. See you then!
Time played: 1 hr 35 min
Total time: 8 hr 30 min
Inventory: Father Yanos’s card, “AHM” handkerchief, picture of Anisette, “London Museum Guide” book, Anisette’s prescription, “Tales of Evil” book, Jonathan Harker’s business card, blackjack, white cloth, Bowie knife, red rose, Van Helsing’s card, book by Byron, gold coin