Transylvania is a graphical text adventure game, where the player must rescue a princess from a murderous vampire. Similar to earlier On-Line (the predecessor to Sierra) graphical adventures such as Wizard and the Princess, Transylvania features a rendered graphic of the player's location, and a text interface.
The original Commodore and Atari releases' popularity lead to ports for a variety of computers in the years following, as well as two well-received sequels.
The player's character is controlled through a basic text parsing engine, capable of understanding commands in the 'verb-object' format, such as "get rock" or "open door". Additionally, movement is accomplished through compass directions, or abbreviations thereof.
The King of Transylvania has engaged the player to rescue princess Sabrina from a vampire. Unique among most text adventures of the time, there is a time limit, which allows the player a finite number of turns before the game abruptly ends.
Along the way, the player must face numerous object-based puzzles, a Warewolf, an alien spacecraft, and other obstacles. Rescuing princess Sabrina leads to the final scene, where the thankful king alerts the player to his other missing daughter; the player sneaks out in the night, to avoid another adventure.
Later Polarware games were written using the Comprehend parsing engine, which is capable of parsing full Infocom-style sentences. The success of Comprehend lead Polarware to re-release Transylvania in a Comprehend edition, including updated graphics, expanded and new puzzles, and the more advanced parsing engine. The Atari ST and Amiga versions are Comprehend edition, with no prior versions.
Transylvania was one of Penguin's more popular early graphical text adventures, and lead to two less popular sequels, The Crimson Crown, and Vanquish the Night. The final sequel includes digitized voicework.