The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Review
-Inclusion of Co-op
-Great sense of humour
-Katarina is a helpful AI buddy
-Decent amount of playtime
-Co-op is mostly broken
-Tutorial could be better
-Some strange bugs
Hi folks, grab your brimmed hats and prepare for adventure as I tell you about my review of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing developed by Neocore games! This game was released 22nd May 2013 and is available for $15 (AUS) on steam.
The story follows the adventures of monster hunter extraordinaire, Van Helsing, as he attempts to travel to the main city of Borgova. Joined by your trusty ghostly companion and guardian Lady Katarina, you set off into the lands of nearby Borgova for another incredible adventure… nothing really unexpected about the story here.
The game plays similar to Diablo, or at least i assume this is the case having never played Diablo myself (Edit 07/09/2013, Just started playing it now!). However, this is an RPG point and click style of game and the user interface looks and works in much the same way. Before you start the game, you must first choose a colour for your cloak. This sums up the initial level of customisation you have for your avatar. After the many hours you’ll spend to decide this, you are given a brief back story on the main man himself, Van, before being thrown straight into battle. The occasional tutorial box will pop-up to assist you in learning the various parts of the game, but these are not intrusive. However for some, it may require you explore the options you have a bit in order to get the most out of your abilities, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably miss a feature or two until about 2 hours.
For difficulty you have a choice of either easy, normal, hard or heroic as well as a hardcore option that enables perma death within the game, again showing similarities to Diablo 3. If you want any real challenge or fear of death I would recommend playing the game on hard, as 6 hours in I had yet to die once on the normal difficulty setting. Don’t even bother asking if I’m playing with hardcore on, i prefer my computer screen to be not broken.
The real customisation comes to the game in a form of an ability tree that allows you to specialise in either ranged, melee or both. There are passive and activated abilities that you can learn, as well as generic stats such as body and willpower to level as the game progresses. As with most RPG’s, gear also plays an important role in increasing your characters stats and damage per second. You can also select from some minor perks made available upon increasing your reputation through questing and defeating infamous beasties. As for the beasties, there are plenty of different varieties to fight, which certainly helps to keep the game interesting.
Katarina has her own separate stats and abilities that can be used to provide you with passive boosts or allow her to soak up or deal extra damage. She can carry extra gear you may be holding and even sell this gear to the shops when you’re running out of space and buy health or mana potions if requested. She isn’t particularly intelligent, but she certainly comes in handy in some of the more hectic parts of the game, despite constantly complaining about needing potions.
A real boost for the game is the inclusion of co-operative play. Players are able to be in separate parts of the world at the same time and upon defeating mobs your each given you own separate loot. Unfortunately from the brief testing I did of co-op, me and my buddy experienced some rather strange issues only 20 minutes into the game. At one point they were unable to move and eventually I crashed. Forum users have been complaining of some lag and ping issues, but this is quite standard for new releases and it’s still possible that these problems may be fixed in future patches. The sense of humor throughout this game also really hits the mark at times, oddly enough reminding me of games such as the Monkey island series.
The story will most likely get you around 10 – 12 hours of gameplay depending on how much you explore and how many of the various side quests you do along the way. However there is a scenario mode that allows you to continue on with a level 30 character and the leveling tree may prove an incentive to some for a second playthrough. On this note though, ranged seemed to have a much larger advantage to melee, especially at the start of the game, due to the large number of beasties that tend to swarm you and cause your health to decrease in a blink of the eye. There have also been reports of occasional bugs within the game, but other than a view movement issues, i haven’t yet experienced anything particularly deal breaking or annoying.