Wednesday 1 March 2023

Dracula Unleashed - Three Murders and a Funeral

Written by Joe Pranevich

Welcome back to Dracula Unleashed! Last time out, Alexander survived the second day and finally broke the silence among the friends who fought Dracula in the original novel. The focus of the game has changed: our murder investigation is over, but now we have to find out what is happening with Anisette, Juliet, and the rash of decapitation murders around the city. We ended our previous evening by breaking into Mr. Horner’s bookshop and discovering his trove of blood vials and a book written in an unknown language. Is that going to be the key to unlocking who the Women in White are and how to defeat them? We know from the prologue that we have a date with Dracula in less than two days and it’s going to be interesting to see how we progress from here to there. This is exciting, but the clock is ticking. 

As before, this post will mostly follow a single trip through the day. As you will shortly see, I make it to the end, but not without casualties. I'll work hard over the next week to see if I can do better. 

Mrs. Colpepper is a careful chaperone. Wouldn’t want any 6:00 AM nookie.

We start the day at 6:05 AM. I immediately go down the street to check on Anisette, but it’s too early and we are scolded by Mrs. Colpepper that “all decent people” should still be in bed. As a night owl, I agree with this sentiment! I wait until 7:00 AM and return, only to discover that Goldacre is already there! How did he get a pass to visit his fiancée but not me? I joke, of course.

Anisette invites us to some breakfast, but Alexander moves immediately to Juliet’s bedside to see how she is doing. The situation in the bedroom shocks him for a different reason: Anisette has removed all of the garlic from the windows and thrown them wide open. She claims that Juliet struggled to breathe under the “awful odor”, but Alexander looks understandably upset. He chides her that she disobeyed Professor van Helsing’s explicit order, but Anisette seems nonplussed. Juliet seems okay at any rate, with Goldacre at her side. She complains of being tired and regrets that she doesn’t feel up to attending Anisette’s father’s funeral. To her credit, Anisette tells her that a funeral would be too stuffy and boring for her and to not worry about it. Goldacre, crying, offers to stay by her side and keep her safe. 

Anisette takes off the cross that Mina gave us and gives it to Juliet to wear. Her response is immediate: Juliet screams and slaps it out of Anisette’s hand, like the mere presence burns her. The camera pans to the necklace abandoned on the floor as the scene ends. 

These are all bad signs. Juliet is succumbing to the vampire bite and further along than Anisette was at the beginning of the game. Is Anisette also still affected? She seemed so blaise in removing the garlic and opening the windows; perhaps unconsciously aiding Dracula? More importantly, did I do something wrong the previous day that led to this? (Would the scene have been different if I didn’t deliver Juliet’s letter the previous evening? Who would have stayed with her during the funeral if Goldacre hadn’t showed up?)

Another day, another murder… but it sells papers!

My next stop of the morning is to pick up a newspaper. Here’s where I learn more shocking news: someone has ransacked St. Joseph’s cemetery the night before, digging up graves and potentially stealing corpses. This is the same cemetery where Quincey Morris was interred and where Anisette’s father will be after his funeral later this morning. This is also where I was killed by a Woman in White during the previous day’s misadventures. Will they bring this up at the funeral? Was Anisette’s father’s body taken there already? The newspaper provides the helpful details that it was ransacked between 1:00 and 2:00 AM in the morning and that the groundskeeper locks the gate at 8:00 PM. The newspaper’s story is that someone must have broken in somehow, but I suppose it is equally likely that someone woke up already inside the cemetery gates… The very specific times given in the article sound like a clue that I missed something.

I restore to the previous day to check, but I am blocked from entering the cemetery all night. Is there a key that I am missing? Goldacre’s key doesn’t do it. Playing through the scenes suggests that that there is effectively no time for us to get into the cemetery: we are killed if we enter the cemetery prior to meeting Professor van Helsing and the earliest we can do that is 7-8:00 PM. That is also the point where the cemetery gate is closed and locked. If I am missing something here, I must have missed it earlier than that. I hate feeling that I’m in a (literal?) walking dead situation!

Two other newspaper articles are equally juicy. The first is another murder, this time at the dockyards. The victim was “Earl Kranston”, but I have no idea if he was an earl or if his first name was “Earl”. Given that we haven’t been able to chase these leads on the other day, I’ll just write it off (for now) as background color. More interesting however is this strange excerpt in the personals section:

My love, I dream of you and the world that we shall create together. The cattle graze, not knowing they are fattened for slaughter. 


Did Lucy Westenra survive Dracula? Renfield died in the novel but is alive in the game; could Lucy have somehow cheated her second death? Is she the secret antagonist? If so, Holmwood (and his wife!) may have a problem with that. But who could be her intended audience with that personal ad? Is it a signal to someone? It’s still only 8:30, so we have some time before the funeral. I’ll check the university next to have the book checked out.

Quite the page-turner!

Randall Briarcliffe immediately recognizes the book as a medieval book of magic, filled with page after page of spells and magical mumbo jumbo. He flips to the same page that we saw before and reads about an “amulet of power” that permits one to bring the dead back to life. As soon as he sees that, his eyes go wide and he rushes to his desk to scribble down notes. The scene ends with Alexander patiently sitting in a chair while Briarcliffe copies into his notebook. He promises to let us know what he learns tomorrow. (Tomorrow! That is awfully late.) We write in our journal that we also should consult Professor van Helsing about the amulet. 

I’m suspicious of this interaction. Briarcliffe seems far too excited about raising the dead for his own good, but at least he leaves the book with us. It’s 9:35 AM and time to get to Andrew Bowen’s funeral.

Foggy day for a funeral.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Our scene starts with a closeup of Reverend Jenkins’s cross as the funeral ends. He announces that there will be a reception held this afternoon for mourners at the home of Arthur and Regina Holmwood, whom he also reminds us are the Lord and Lady Godalming. Mina pulls Alexander over to meet the Reverend. He says that he is aware of our circumstances and will send us something tomorrow morning to aid us. Tomorrow! Everything seems to be coming together to make tomorrow an exciting day. Is he a character from the novel?

We transition to a separate conversation as Anisette thanks the Holmwoods for their kindness. This in turn is interrupted when Dr. Seward and Professor van Helsing cross the foreground while discussing Renfield's worsening situation. No mention is made of the cemetery’s vandalism the previous night, nor does it seem that Mr. Bowen was disturbed in any way. Was that a false lead? I’m very confused.

What a lovely party! Shame someone had to die for it.

As soon as the mourners depart, I rush to the Holmwoods' for the advertised post-funeral reception. Most of our leads are there, but the topic never turns to defeating vampires. Instead, the scene is refreshingly domestic. We learn that the Holmwoods do not know Juliet, despite her being engaged to Goldacre. We also learn that Anisette and Alexander have wedding plans and that she has picked out a dress of “purest white”. This is either a hint that she still has “Woman in White” inclinations or how she adjusted her wardrobe for nighttime wandering so quickly. Either way, the scene ends with little (obvious) of importance happening. It’s good to let the characters breathe and flesh out their universe a bit. 

My room is comfortably small with rubber lining the walls and there's someone always calling my name…

Taking the hint that Professor van Helsing and Dr. Seward were heading back to the asylum, I wander there next. As I arrive, they are paying another visit to Renfield. He’s been acting even more erratically than before and speaks like a crazy-person’s idea of Shakespeare. “Poor cell! The esteemed doctor comes to learn from me! You’re too late, too late, too late! The master has been reborn– revived!” His words are disturbing, especially to van Helsing and Dr. Seward. He claims that his "master" will have revenge on us tonight. And once his revenge is complete, then he, Renfield, will be made “like him”. 

This is all too much for poor Professor van Helsing who grabs his chest and collapses. As our attentions are diverted for just a moment, Renfield charges. He smashes Alexander’s head against the wall, knocking him unconscious. Dr. Seward hesitates then ducks down to help Alexander first. That gives Renfield an opening to wrap his manacles around van Helsing’s neck, strangling him. The scene ends. Our journal tells us that we escaped, but at the cost of Professor van Helsing’s life. “If only I had been ready to stop that madman.”

Murder #1.

I cannot imagine that we can complete the game without van Helsing’s help, so I restore and play the scene again. This time, I bring the obvious tool: the blackjack that was used to knock out the insane person on the first day. This time the scene plays out as before, but Alexander is ready. When Renfield rushes Alexander, he knocks his assailant upside the head. Van Helsing is saved, but he doesn’t seem happy about it. Alexander is thrilled that he could replay the favor of saving his life, but the professor only clutches his chest. “If what Renfield say is true, we are all dead men.” 

The scene ends, but doesn’t leave me with any obvious leads. I have nothing else scheduled and plenty of places to explore. I opt to head home first and see if I have any telegrams. I do!

Still uncertain how physical objects are being sent by “telegram”.

The message is from Mr. Briarcliffe at the university that his analysis of the cloth is complete. He claims that the cloth, a burial cloth from a royal family in "Middle Europe", is approximately 120 years old. It is a high-class antique, which no doubt added to his joy of analyzing it. If this guy wasn’t in Sherlock Holmes, he certainly should have been! Our journal suggests that we find someone more familiar with the area to dig in deeper. He also sent the cloth back with the telegram and it is re-added to our inventory.

This is the part of the post where I dive into something completely unnecessary and hope that you care. It has been bothering me how these physical objects (such as the knife and the cloth) are being sent “by telegram." Obviously, that’s not how telegrams work! Telegrams were a very early form of computer-less networking and I could go into rambling details about how they solved routing and delivery problems and how telegraph operators were essentially human modems. (I teach a networking class at night and dive into precisely this.) Instead, I researched how the postal system worked in 1899 and how easy it would be to send packages back and forth from Transylvania to London. As it turns out, it was quite easy. The Treaty of Bern in 1874 established the “General Postal Union” across Europe which allowed for the common exchange of mail and packages between 17 European countries, plus the United States, the Ottoman Empire, and Egypt. This also included both Romania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was now possible to send a package fairly reliably from San Francisco to Vladivostok! While it was not the overnight service from Transylvania to London as depicted in the game, if you paid enough coin an object could arrive in London after only a few days, not too much slower than modern mail. (If you are playing the “Joe gets distracted by an unnecessary detail” drinking game… drink up!)

“Be a good chap and shovel, Leopold.” The poor man.

At the Hades Club, we have our usual evening rant with the already drunk Mr. Stranzikoswki. He’s sitting with two other unnamed members of the club and rants to Alexander, but his crazy-talk suggests a deeper trauma over his wife than we learned previously. “What do you know of good and evil? They are evil.. They are evil, but would they listen to me? No! ‘Be a good chap and bring a shovel, Leopold.’, ‘It won’t hurt us, Leopold.’, ‘She’ll be alright, Leopold.’, ‘It’s for the best, Leopold.’”

How do we even begin to unpack that? Who are the “they” that are evil? Why were they so casual in asking him to bring a shovel? If he was asked to bury (or unbury?) his wife, the tone seems far beyond insensitive. He’s trapped in his grief; no wonder he sits in the Hades Club and drinks all day. 

“When a lunatic is trying to kill you, you drink too.”

Speaking of alcoholism, I explore the evening. While there is no one at the Harkers’, I discover Professor van Helsing drinking away his terror at the neighborhood pub. “When a lunatic is trying to kill you, you drink too.” He is stuck thinking about Renfield, and if what he said is true then there may be little we can do. Alexander pleads for more information, calling on the name of his brother. Van Helsing is not comforted. “If only Quincey was here, then I would have strength enough!” 

Alexander retorts, “You are the strongest among us! If you falter in these trying times, what hope is there for the rest of us?” Alexander admits that he doesn’t understand everything and doesn’t know how Dracula could have returned, but they must come together to put the fiend down again. Van Helsing agrees. They agree to meet later at Jonathan Harker’s home to plan.

Defeating Dracula by committee.

I am unable to find anything else to do and before long head to Harker’s for the meeting. Van Helsing is there, as is Dr. Seward, Jonathan and Mina, and Arthur Holmwood. As before, Regina Holmwood seems to be left out, nor are there any other members of the Hades Club. Professor van Helsing begins by reminding the group that he called a similar meeting ten years ago. Their purpose is the same: to defeat Dracula. He believes that Dracula has risen from his grave once again.

The response is immediate. Mina nearly passes out, before Alexander runs to grab her some brandy. Van Helsing says that it is obvious that Juliet has the “Nosferatu bite” on her neck, but Jonathan retorts that it could be a different vampire. He argues that there is no connection between Juliet and Dracula, and no reason that it has to be him returned. Van Helsing reveals that Renfield has again fallen under a vampire’s thrall, just as he did for Dracula. Jonathan argues on that Dracula is dead, they killed him, and a different vampire isn't their problem. Holmwood agrees and one by one the meeting members leave, doubting that Dracula has returned but not denying that undead activity is on the rise. Van Helsing screams as they leave, “We must be working together! Alone we are nothing!”. The scene ends. Our journal says “If only there was something I could have done…”

We don’t need to live with our failure for long. Murder #2. 

After the meeting, Alexander steps out of Jonathan’s home into the street. Moments later, he is attacked by a wolf– probably the same one we keep hearing at the Saucy Jack pub. Needless to say, it’s game over. 

I restore the game and try again. This time, I bring the Romanian manuscript into the meeting. When Professor van Helsing admits that he doesn’t know how Dracula could have returned, Alexander turns around and looks smug. (“I have an idea…”) He reveals that he found a manuscript in the Goldacre and Horner bookstore that appears to have the answer. Alexander pointedly does not tell them that he found it in a secret room filled with vials of blood. He adds that he reviewed the book with Briarcliffe at the university and learned that it speaks of an amulet of power with the power to raise the dead. He connects it to Dracula by pointing out that Juliet is Goldacre’s fiancée. It seems too much of a coincidence for him to have this book and for Juliet to be the first one (that they know of) to be attacked. (Alexander remains ignorant of how close Anisette came to becoming a Woman in White on the first day, if not for Mina’s necklace.) After this evidence, everyone is convinced. They agree to use Jonathan’s office as a base of operations. Van Helsing sends Alexander to check on Anisette, while Jonathan works with his solicitor friends to identify whether Dracula has secured any new places to live. Holmwood returns home to check on his wife. 

The same death scene triggers as before, but this time everyone leaves the house together as friends. Van Helsing reminds everyone that the next meeting will be tomorrow. Alexander joins van Helsing on his walk, interrogating the professor about Dracula’s many powers. As soon as we learn that he can control both “storm” and “beast”, we are attacked by the Demeter Wolf. Fortunately, van Helsing brought wolfsbane and is able to scare off the wolf. He hands the herb to Alexander and asks that we check on the others to make sure everyone is alright.

Always a good time for journaling.

There’s a light… over in the Frankenstein place. 

I try to check on “everyone” as requested, but no one is home anywhere. I hope they are okay! It worries me when the game hints that I need to find a scene, but I cannot find any. I eventually head to Anisette (where van Helsing asked me to go initially) to trigger a new scene.

We open with Alexander sitting in a chair journaling, while Mina’s necklace lies unworn on a nearby dresser. He narrates as he writes that he is allowing both Anisette and Juliet to sleep while he keeps watch for the night. (Where is Mrs. Colpepper? She must have raised some objections…) Alexander sits with his back to Anisette’s door and does not see the red light and smoke that creeps out from under the gap. As if by magic, Alexander falls into a deep sleep.

To sleep! Perchance to dream.

Bling after death.

Alexander dreams. In his dreams, he is back at the graveyard and being tied to a large gravestone by two Women in White. When we can see their faces, we realize that they are Juliet and Anisette (although it is difficult to tell under all that makeup). Once he is secured to the stone, a third Woman in White appears. This one is new; I don’t remember seeing her before. She’s dressed much fancier than the other two, with pearl necklaces and perhaps a tiara. She tells Alexander that it’s all just a game. After she does so, Juliet and Anisette turn around and go in for the kill. 

Only mostly dead?

Before they strike, Alexander startles awake. It’s morning and Professor van Helsing is screaming at him for being asleep. He and Dr. Seward run past Alexander’s pointless guarding of the women’s door and race into the bedroom. (This is the first time that we see their sleeping arrangements, and while I’ve made some off-color comments about them in the past, the game clearly depicts Juliet sleeping on the large bed with Anisette curled up on a nearby couch. She’s a good hostess and gave the sick girl her bed to sleep in.) The professor quickly discovers that Juliet is dead; he covers her body with a sheet. They check Anisette and she is still alive, but barely as she has lost a lot of blood. Van Helsing is angry, to say the least. He tells Alexander that this is all his fault and throws him out into the street (saying to meet at Harker’s office tomorrow morning) as he and Dr. Seward prepare to give Anisette a blood transfusion. Judging by Seward rolling up his sleeve as the scene ends, he himself will be the donor. As Alexander leaves in disgrace, Anisette awakens but we are spared her discovery of her friend’s death as the scene ends. 

So much to talk about here, so I’ll start with the least important bit: the blood transfusion. This is potentially anachronistic: although the first successful human blood transfusion was in 1818, it was a rare and risky procedure that often killed the patient. Blood types, and therefore successful transfusions, were not discovered until 1907. Then again, Professor van Helsing is a genius with a deep understanding of blood. While we’re likely not intended to think too deeply about this, I buy that he could give Anisette a blood transfusion less than a decade before the technique became publicly well-known. (And… drink!)

Did we fail the game or is this a scripted event that must happen?

Juliet is dead. Our journal shows Alexander kicking himself for the failure, though he doesn’t realize that there was magic at play with him falling asleep. If Dracula (or a Woman in White) came in through the opened and unguarded windows devoid of the garlic that Professor van Helsing placed there the day before, how could that be Alexander’s fault? Even so, this feels like a “bad” ending, like I should have been able to save her. It’s now 7:00 AM on the 31st, the start of what I believe is the final day… but do I need to play it all over again to fix this before moving on? Did this death “need” to happen for the game to continue, or is it like one of the other bad scenarios such as the death of Professor van Helsing which we need to go back and prevent?

I play the death scene over and over again, trying everything. I even get the idea that if Alexander reads Byron or the “Tales of Evil” book that he won’t fall asleep. Neither work. Nor does the wolfsbane, the knife, the picture of Anisette, the handkerchief, or anything else. Did I miss something much earlier? If I need to prevent Anisette from removing the garlic (which we say in the first scene of the day), I’ll need to go back to Day 2 and I’ve already packed everything that I think I can pack into that day. I couldn’t find any more. Could I have missed a key item even earlier?

And this is where I will leave off this week. Next time out, I’m going to play this section over again and see if there is anything that I missed? I don’t know if I can save Juliet, but I have to try. 

Time played: 1 hr 30 min
Total time: 14 hr 5 min
Inventory: Father Janos’s card, “AHM” handkerchief, picture of Anisette, “London Museum Guide” book, Anisette’s prescription, “Tales of Evil” book, Jonathan Harker’s business card, blackjack, Bowie knife, Van Helsing’s card, book by Byron, gold coin, Goldacre’s keys, mysterious book, wolfsbane


  1. Anisette disposing of the garlic in Juliet's room parallels the actions of Lucy's rather idiotic mother in the novel, who also throws out the garlic Van Helsing sets up in Lucy's room, though in that case she is merely misguided rather than becoming a vampire herself. (As I recall, Lucy's mother dies of a heart attack on seeing Dracula in wolf form appear at the window of their house in Whitby.)

    The Reverend is an original character created for the game, though it would certainly make sense to have a priest among the vampire hunters. In Stoker's novel, Van Helsing is the one who provides wafers of the Host to crumble up and use as protection against Dracula by drawing magical barriers with it - showing a much more Protestant than Catholic attitude towards the Body of Christ, I might say! Van Helsing airily brushes off the matter by claiming that "I have an Indulgence", which is rather odd; even taking him at his word, I think such unusual uses of the Host generally require dispensations from the Pope himself, or at least the higher-ups in the Vatican bureaucracy.

    Holmwood's wife is a minor character who is mentioned briefly at the end of the novel; evidently Holmwood met and married her after the destruction of Dracula, since Lucy was his fiancée before she turned into a vampire. The novel doesn't even give her a name; "Regina" is the game's invention. So it makes sense that she wouldn't be at the meeting of the vampire hunters.

    On the other hand, it doesn't make sense at all that the group would be so blasé about a new vampire or vampires stalking London after they killed Dracula (the first time?). As Van Helsing declares in the book, their aim is nothing less than to prevent vampires taking over Britain by invading steathily and slowly building up a critical mass of the population. Dracula alone, left unhindered, might have been enough to accomplish this, and it's very clear in Stoker's novel that any vampire is to be treated basically as a demon to be hunted down and destroyed. (On the other hand, when Mina is bitten, Jonathan himself decides that if she can't be cured, he would gladly join her as a vampire rather than let her suffer alone - something which is likely a deliberate echo by Stoker of Adam knowingly following Eve into fallenness by eating the apple after she does in Paradise Lost.)

    I know, I know, the game probably just wants to punish you for not solving the puzzle properly in this case. But it's an odd bit of writing that hardly chimes with the original book.

    Doing blood transfusions without any knowledge of blood types is also something from the original novel. As you say, the existence of blood types hadn't been discovered yet, so there's much emphasis on giving Lucy "good, strong, healthy blood" to try to keep her alive as Dracula is draining her. Lucy's donors include Quincey Morris, Dr. Seward, and Holmwood (who all proposed to her on the same day), as well as Van Helsing - and the sexual symbolism of Lucy sharing blood with each of her suitors is remarked on in the novel.

    1. The game does follow the book's plot VERY closely, so Juliet dying would be akin to the death of Lucy. For that reason too I would doubt that it could be avoided.

  2. Juliet's death is so close to Lucy's that I doubt it can be prevented; a clue that it is not preventable would me if in the next day there are scenes of characters reacting to her death or if there are events similar to what happens in the novel after Lucy's death, because I doubt they had the means to shoot scenes for two parallel plots, one in which Juliet is death and other in which it is not.

  3. I suppose you already know this Joe, but for everyone interested in the history of the telegraph, there is this wonderful series written by Jimmy Maher in The Digital Antiquarian:

  4. >>Two other newspaper articles are equally juicy. The first is another murder, this time at the dockyards. The victim was “Earl Kranston”, but I have no idea if he was an earl or if his first name was “Earl”.

    Hm.. no idea if the developers of the game had that in mind, but "Earl" as a given name is mostly a US-American thing, and even then it only really came into use from around 1890 onwards (I don't think it was used much, if at all, before 1880 at least, and outside of the US not before the start of the 20th century). Given that the game is set in late-19th century Britain (and assuming the dead Earl Kranston was an adult), I would wager that the "Earl" in question was most likely a title of nobility.

  5. Sorry, I don't know why the blogger login has been so unreliable...

    Good to see you're making progress, Joe! Meanwhile in BloodNet, I'm still stuck at Grant's Tomb and gave it another 20 shots but frequently Ransom Stark dies at the last minute (once after all of the thugs died at the same time which was quite frustrating). I'll give it another try soon.

  6. In "The Dracula Tape" by Fred Saberhagen (1975), blood typing was one of the plot points he used to help turn Dracula from an evil character into a somewhat good character - his drinking of Lucy's blood was actually keeping her alive while the blood transfusions were killing her.

    Ken Brubaker

    1. One of Dracula's defining character traits is being far behind the times. How does he know something that no one else in that time period does?

    2. Maybe he can taste the difference much like connoisseurs can tell different wines apart?

      Ken Brubaker