The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is just another adventure RPG, hack, slash and loot game. I’m not a huge fan of inventory management, item optimisation and and choosing powers for that .03% increase in critical hit damage. Regardless, Van Helsing is a hack, slash and loot game that I thoroughly enjoyed, more so than I ever enjoyed Diablo, Sacred, Torchlight, or any other game from that genre that has been released in my memory.
Abraham Van Helsing was from Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel and helped them defeat Dracula. But that Van Helsing is now deceased, and so you play his inexperienced, yet stylish son as you set out to Borgova, following in your father’s footsteps of slaying evil monsters and protecting the innocent. Borgova is some shitty, backwater, Eastern-European country set in a fictitious 19th Century world in which exists magic, monsters and steampunk technology.
The above is probably why I enjoyed this game so much. A 19th Century gothic, noir, advneture story with elements of supernaturalism AND steampunk! This is on top of some enjoyable writing and voice acting, a cynical sense of humour and ultimately a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are plenty of references to modern pop culture and comic relief throughout which does make the ‘noir’ title waver a bit, but it’s worth it to make the game more enjoyable.
Van Helsing has all the typical aspects of a modern hack, slash and loot RPG. Bazillions of items ranging from normal to magical to artifacts, multiple skills trees with skill upgrades, attributes, a pet that can sell your collected items for you (though this time, your pet is a Borogovan ghost), a combat system that involves a lot of clicking and multiple classes, provided you pay for DLC.
If anything, between the items, attributes, skills and combat system, that gameplay was overly complex. Your partner ghost also had an inventory with items that can be equipped and two separate skills trees for her; there was an additional perk system based on a reputation system that rose when you killed special monsters. There were three different skills trees with one being class skills, another generic tricks not specific to any one class and another for auras (two of which you can have slotted at once). Each skill could be individually upgraded along with an additional skill perk that can be added at certain levels. Each skill also comes with 3 rage attributes. Oh, did I mention there’s also a rage system during combat where rage can be spent on certain rage attributes for increased damage, skill length or skill-specific traits. In fact, the combat system is so complicated that spacebar acts as the macro for your rage system. It’s like they’ve tried to throw in every possible mechanic that can be used in a hack, slash and loot game. It’s just a bit too much.
This over-complicated combat system isn’t inaccessible, it’s just a little unnecessary. The powers and skills themselves were fun to use and you leveled up at a good pace which means you were never far off your next skill or upgrade. The graphics are very good with some interesting and organic level designs which you don’t get often in these type of games. Though I find that all of Neocore’s games, while having good graphics, always seem to look foggy, like you’re playing the game through a haze.
Initially I did have some issues with the game as I started playing with another player but when we went to continue after our initial couple of hours, their character hadn’t saved properly while mine had. Instead of continuing on alone, I restarted as a different class (the spellcaster)… and then continued alone.
Van Hesling is one of the better ARPG adventure games I’ve played in a long time, the first one I’ve finished since Diablo II. It sets up for the sequel nicely, is fast-paced and has enough content to avoid grinding. Highly recommend it for any fan of hack, slash and loot games.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is currently available on Steam for $14.99 or for $19.99 with all DLC included (highly recommended).Cover Image
Next review in 3 weeks will be Stacking