The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is a dungeon crawling action RPG that takes the Diablo formula and makes it better. First off, this game IS better than Diablo 3 is almost every way. The challenge is higher, the gameplay is smoother, and you can play it offline. Those reasons alone should make you get out your credit card and buy this game on Steam. However, if you need some more convincing I have a review for you waiting below.
Based on Bram stoker’s Dracula, the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing features a very young Van Helsing, son of Abraham Van Helsing, the famous monster hunter in Bram Stoker’s novel. The game does not take place directly in the setting of the book, but a slightly more technologically advanced version where monsters are being modified by a form of evil science. Some of you may know I am not a fan of Steampunk. I find it to be pretentious and overused. However, this game brings a different side to the genre. The game is very dystopian and almost cyberpunk in atmosphere. Everyone is suffering from these new monsters and only Van Helsing can stop them. That is the basis for the game’s story. Find the cause of the monster mutations and put an end to it.
The story has a simple execution but not too simple to where you see the ending coming from a mile away. You are left in the dark for a majority of the game, which is a very unique way to tell a story in video games these days. I commend Neocore Games for taking this route of unique storytelling. They did have a basis on what to use as a story but they made it their own. The game is planned to be a trilogy so there will be more to this story than meets the eye.
As I said before, this game has the Diablo formula. Point and click RPG dungeon crawler style, and it works so bloody well in this game. While some may know of the movie Van Helsing game, it was a dreadful third person shooter. Not this game and I am so glad. There are two weapon types, Ranged and Melee. You can switch between them at any time. The guns are more magic influenced while the melee is more of the tank route. However, there are numerous combinations you can make to craft your own unique character.
Every core ability has three side abilities. Using your skill points on these will allow you to use them at the cost of “rage” points. You can use these at any time as long as you have the rage to pay for them. They can give you buffs or apply debuffs on enemies. Their effects are applied on the next basic attack so use them wisely. You can program them to be activated with the space bar which is highly recommended.
What makes The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing a unique dungeon crawler is the ability to switch between skills on the fly. While you have to stop attacking to do so, the ability to cycle through your learned abilities is a nice take on the genre. Not many games can pull that off so well. You don’t have a skill bar like in Torchlight or other PC RPGs. Most of the time you can see enemies before they see you so you can plan out your next attack set accordingly. You will need to also, because enemies will swarm at an alarming pace. Before you know it, you have to pay a fine to respawn at the checkpoint, in your death area, or spawn back at the closest town for free.
The skills do not extend to Van Helsing, you also have a snarky quick witted ghost names Katarina. She has the ability to shapeshift between a ranged and melee form. You can center her skills on either one. She has her own set of equipment as well. With the right skills and equipment, she can be tankier than you. Her inclusion adds some humor to the rather dark game and even some character development through the story. She is a nice gameplay element that adds to the story and doesn’t feel forced. The game is surprisingly organized unlike some RPGs like Witcher 2 and Path of Exile. The depth of the RPG elements is better the pseudo RPGs like Mass Effect.
The main problem with IAVH is the targeting system. I have always found ranged targeting systems in these games to be troublesome due to the move click and attack click being bound to the same mouse button. It makes it difficult to snipe down enemies or even pink up gear. You may find yourself spinning in circles trying to pick up gear just to sell it. Speaking of selling, the economy system feels rather broken in IAVH. It is very easy to amass 100k gold as you won’t be spending any gold on weapons. Why? Because all of your good weapons and armor are found when you infest some points into your luck statistic.
Despite the 20GB install, the game feels rather small compared to Torchlight and Diablo 3. It is a shame because you want a game like this to have more content due to the lore backing it up so well. The bonus is the multiplayer. The game feels harder with more people but at the same time easier because you aren’t taking on so many enemies at once. The game does have really good conveyance and nice pacing so you won’t wander around wondering where to go or what to do.
As a whole, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is a solid dungeon crawling RPG. The finer points could use some tuning but this is a game that is more fun than Diablo3 and in some ways Torchlight. If you love dungeon crawlers, you must get this game. I give the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing on PC a 9/10. You can pick it up on Steam and Gamersgate now.