The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

With staggering visuals and witty gameplay, ARPG fans will not want to miss playing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.

By RON, Posted 19 Mar 2014

Van Helsing, the immortal name that echoes through the ages. They call it a gift, he calls it a curse. Vampires, werewolves and even Frankenstein-esque monsters quiver in fear as sensing and vanquishing evil is Van Helsing's duty from birth. Known as the Hand of God, Abraham Van Helsing goes out to seek evil wherever it may hide and send it back to Hell. With a breakout of monsters from a mad scientist’s laboratory, our hero sets upon himself an eternal quest in this action RPG by developer NeocoreGames. Van Helsing has a striking attitude that makes him likeable and different from other characters. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing may seem common in terms of gameplay, but the mixture of visuals, combat mechanics and Helsing's poltergeist companion, Katarina, make this experience livelier.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing,Review,Screenshots,ARPG,NeocoreGames

Far across Eastern Europe, the gothic, steampunk (noir) land of Borgovia is troubled due to its unbalanced practice of magic and science. As the son of the legendary Van Helsing, players must travel to Borgovia to bring back order and peace. Brandishing the classic red and blue orbs for health and mana and having enemies swarm in every corner of the screen, the game immediately gives off a sense of familiarity to those who have been acquainted with the Diablo or Torchlight series. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, however, feels more modern with guns, steam and an unusual blend of science and magic. Players quickly get along with the city’s rooftops, chains of forests and swamps and the inevitable dungeons. In numerous layers of the city Van Helsing and his companion Katarina battle against a set of bizarre creatures, helping to build an atmosphere that truly captures the attention of those who hunger for more from this genre.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing,Review,Screenshots,ARPG,NeocoreGames

Mechanics wise, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing has everything a true action RPG should contain. Basic features such as leveling, skill building, ability points, a vast array of weaponry and above all, diversity of maps and missions are all there to be found. On a more advanced level, a feature to track multiple quests, organizing both the player’s and Katarina’s inventories and upgrading or trading weapons are also in the cards. Each kill grants Van Helsing experience points and a large sum of rewards after completing missions. These points are used mostly for purchasing or upgrading weapons, armors and perks. Speaking of weapons, they come in two different sets: melee and ranged. Players can switch between weapons but can stick to only one type while in combat. These weapon types come with separate sets of power-ups and skill trees. Maxing out a skill tree of any weapon grants added bonuses and handy specializations. Players, however, can only wield two special skills for each weapon and four in total for both melee and ranged. Most players would probably stick to their favorite weapon types and build skills accordingly, while it gives a more realistic feel using different weapons for killing different monsters. For instance, it’s more like Van Helsing to kill a werewolf with a gun and kill a monstrous spider with a large sword.

Monsters come in a large variety and unsurprisingly swarm players from every possible angle. The visuals never get dreary and make you want to explore every possible corner of the world. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing requires a bit of experimentation, requiring Van Helsing to defend his hideouts by setting up traps and defense systems, thus breaking up the possible monotony found in games of this genre. The idea of bringing the fight towards the protagonist brings not only distinctiveness but also feels logical as defending a hideout still requires Van Helsing to get involved in action at the weak spots. Worryingly, however, the shine of this unique idea fades away rather quickly with the lack of more solid micromanagement features.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing,Review,Screenshots,ARPG,NeocoreGames

Speaking of features, Katarina is an addition that will please every gamer. The exchange of lines between Van Helsing and Katarina brings out the witty humor of the game. The teasing between these two characters helps to keep the journey pleasurable. Sadly the immersion dries down with a bit of awkwardness in the gameplay. No doubt the visuals are exceptionally well done, but the gameplay feels rather lackluster. There are always way too many enemies to deal with, and applying the hard earned skills and upgrades becomes futile while the difference between a melee and ranged weapon is hardly noticeable. Though the combat system provides fast paced action, it fails to offer any impact in the long run. Even with a varied ability tree, actual abilities are very few in numbers and visual indication of these abilities aren’t highly creative. Overall the combat experience never truly connects or feels great. While some of the combat sound effects are undeniably good, the overall experience feels incomplete with the lack of impact in terms of delivery.

The campaign on the other hand contains a variety of maps of good length, and quests are interesting enough to keep the players going through the twelve hours worth of gameplay. While dealing with the enemy horde is monotonous, boss fights are a different ball game. Even on the easiest mode most bosses are difficult to deal with and take a good amount of time and resources to defeat; the death of Van Helsing becomes a common scenario. Even with a half-minute cool-down of both health and mana portions, due to the level of attacks, players get accustomed to spamming themselves with potions even in regular circumstances. When dead, players can either respawn at their current location, at the last checkpoint or in the city, depending on how much gold they can spare. In the multiplayer mode quests are more exciting while the game can contain up to four players and make the gameplay more challenging. There are some glitches such as losing connection that can turn multiplayer matches into a frustrating experience, but they aren’t very frequent.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing,Review,Screenshots,ARPG,NeocoreGames

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing may seem imitative from several aspects, but it does bring entertainment to the table for this genre. The Blue Blood, Thaumaturge and Arcane Mechanic DLCs, bring more set of skills, tricks and auras to the game, including more quests in the campaign, and these come with only a $10 price tag. In comparison to the lights of the Diablo series, this game may dim a little, but it provides a solid experience especially considering it is an indie title. For its staggering visuals and wittiness, fans of this genre or Van Helsing will not want to miss playing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.

Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed
Twitter | +SarwarRon

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC
Publisher(s): NeocoreGames
Developer(s): NeocoreGames
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Dungeon Crawl, Hack And Slash
Release Date: 2013-05-22

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