HomeReviews3/5 ReviewFury of Dracula: Digital Edition Review

Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition Review


There are few games as timeless as Hide and Seek. But capturing it in board game form is incredibly difficult. How do you hide from other players when they can visibly see you and the moves you make? But that didn’t stop Fantasy Flight Games, who produced Fury of Dracula, effectively the most elaborate game of Hide and Seek that you can think of, way back in 2015. It’s won countless awards and is currently in its fourth reprint.

In theory, it’s a game that’s better suited to digital platforms. Making moves without your opponent seeing them is prime online-multiplayer material, plus games can take up to a couple of hours, as each vampire hunter takes their turn independently, which slows everything down. When you’ve got a video game doing a lot of the operational legwork for you, that time can get shuffled down to an hour or so. 

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For those who haven’t come across Fury of Dracula before, it’s a fantastic little asymmetrical board game where one player plays Dracula, skulking about Europe, while the other players play hunters, trying to find him and stake him to the ground. What makes the game so fascinating is that all of Dracula’s moves are made in secret, while the hunters’ moves are all very much public. Dracula is trying to weave out of the way, while the Hunters are picking up day-long trails, in an attempt to puzzle out where he went next. 

The board is set up with four hunters all scattered randomly across Europe and Dracula able to choose wherever he fancies. Then things kick off in the day phase, where each Hunter has their turn and can choose to spend a single action point on a variety of things: moving (which is the most common), searching for weapons and event cards (the second-most common), buying train tickets, resting, swapping items with each other and pulling off character-specific special moves. 

So, the Hunters will move across Ticket to Ride-style routes, side-eyeing the Dracula player to see if they have managed to find him. Dracula will say yay or nay, and the rounds continue. 

There’s a neat little mechanic here where Dracula leaves an evidence trail behind him. You might come across a city where Dracula was located three or four turns ago, and Dracula will flip over the card to reveal that information. That narrows things down: if he was in Rome three days ago, then he is only three moves away. You can start to triangulate and hem Dracula in, particularly as you have four Hunters to do the hemming.

Then things move to night-time, and the Hunters have one more turn, or half-turn. Basically, the Hunters can do an additional round of buying tickets, resting and searching for items, but it comes with a risk, as Dracula owns the night. There’s every chance that you’ll unearth some cards that benefit Dracula rather than you. 

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Then it’s onto Dracula’s turn, as he weasels his way around the board, pulling off sick moves like doubling back on himself, going to the city that a Hunter just left, and bluffing by pretending to go somewhere he’s not. A classic Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition move is to hop on a boat – denoted by a different card colour, so the other players know full well Dracula is out to sea – but then hop back on land, pretty much where you came from. The Hunters tend to fan out, looking to find the new port you escaped to, when you never really moved. Textbook.

Dracula’s got other tricks up his cloak. Whenever he leaves a location, he drops an enemy or effect, so Hunters following his trail will have to contend with rats, wolves, mist and other vampires. Dracula also loves to stir the pot with his effect cards, again extremely useful for misdirection. Got a roadblock card that stops a player from using a particular road? Place it far away from you, to give the impression that you’re that way. 

Finding Dracula means combat, and that’s when all the items and effect cards come into play. Fisticuffs is a rock-paper-scissors affair, delicately spiced with a few extra mechanics. You choose a card to attack with, and that card will have symbols running along the bottom of it. They determine the card types that it will block. So, if Dracula attacks with a card that has a fang icon, and your card has a fang icon too, then his attack is negated. It gets nobblier than that, but not by much.

Victory conditions are pretty simple. For Dracula, it’s all about avoiding detection to the point that your trail cards are replaced by new trail cards, which adds to your countdown timer. Get to unlucky number thirteen and Dracula wins. For the Hunters, it’s all about killing Dracula. Bound him in, chip away at his health, and force him into the sea where he takes one damage per turn. 

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Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition is one of those asymmetrical games where it’s far more fun to play one role over the others. Playing Dracula is an absolute giggle. There are few things more enjoyable than leading friends on a goose chase, sitting in Ireland while everyone believes you’re in Russia. But in those situations, being one of the hunters can be frustrating. You move slowly, even with train tickets and ferries, and realising a mistake can mean a slow plod back to where you should be. It’s just a better game when you play Dracula, but only one of the five players gets that privilege. 

Regardless, if you have a group of players who know what they’re doing, who know not to put their eggs all in one basket, and who can sense when the wool is being pulled over their eyes, then it can be extremely fun. It’s not a game we will wheel out often, but it’s in the mix. Yet, all of this commentary is the same for Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition: it’s simply more engaging when you’re Vlad.

What muddies any recommendation of the Digital Edition is that it doesn’t feel as good to play as the board game, which is a rarity (we absolutely adored Wingspan this year, for example). For one, it’s hard to find a method of playing which accentuates its strengths. Sure, you can play Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition solo, which you can’t with the board game – a bonus – but rounds are interminably long, and there’s no option to speed up proceedings, which is a crazy omission. Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition just isn’t a game that’s best played solo.

Play it locally, and it’s incredibly clumsy. A notification pops up for the pad to be passed, which is the signal for everyone to look away. Dracula’s position pops up on the screen, and everyone has to stare at their lap for a couple of minutes until Dracula has finished. It’s a game made for the Wii U, but there’s no second screen here. Which leaves online multiplayer. As you can probably imagine for a board game that’s been out for a while, there are absolutely zero matches to play with randos. We’ve tried for hours. So, you’re left playing with friends. But you all need a copy of Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition to play, which multiplies the outlay. 

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It’s undeniably fun when playing long-distance with friends, but we can’t imagine that many people will do so, particularly when it hikes the price up beyond the board game’s. And for those that do, there are still some kinks. Some of the UX is on the clunky side, as Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition won’t intelligently default the cursor to where it should be. If we’ve chosen a combat card, why doesn’t Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition automatically move us to the ‘Confirm’ button? It should be that easy. And one of the prime joys of playing the board game is that, once the game is over, Dracula can show the route that he followed and the hunters all sigh and huff. For bewildering reasons, there’s nothing at the end of the game that displays the dance between Dracula and the Hunters. It’s such a potential win for the Digital Edition. 

Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition does capture something fantastic: the feeling of outwitting your friends, sending them to the other end of a map as you relax on the opposite end of it. It’s as pure a feeling as you can find. But this port carries the flaws of the board game – that it’s not as fun being on the receiving end – while introducing some of its own, as solo, local multiplayer and online multiplayer each have their own compromises on the joys of the original. 

If you can find four friends, all willing to purchase Fury of Dracula: Digital Edition, who would rather not pop round to play it in person, then we encourage you to sink your fangs in. For anyone else, it’s one to avoid, or one to buy as the board game instead.

You can buy Fury of Dracula from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S

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