The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing review
Don your wide brimmed hat and enter the monster slaying, gothic noir world of Van Helsing
Action RPGs have certainly come a long way in last few years. The Diablo series, Torchlight and Torchlight 2 have set a new bar that future games of this genre must now try and compete with. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is one such game that aims to top the action-role-playing game (ARPG) charts, and it does a pretty good job of it.
Set in the dark gothic, steampunk world of vampires, wolves, behemoths and other foul abominations that belong in the imagination of Hieronymus Bosch, you, playing as Van Helsing’s son, are tasked to travel the depths of Borgovia and eliminate the terrible evil that is a pestilence upon the land.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing does the ARPG genre justice simply by doing everything right and keeping with the tradition of menus, looting, melee and ranged attacks, and lots of enemies to obliterate. It’s a sad fact that an action RPG is for the most part, a hit or miss affair; the slightest deviation in the game’s development can prove to be disastrous for those involved, but TIAVH proves to be a surprising addition to the genre and offers it something that often missing from other games of this ilk: an engaging storyline with a mix of humour and loads to do.
Throughout the adventure you are accompanied by Lady Katarina, a ghost that is capable of aiding you in battle, and carrying the mountains of gold that you’ll collect through the game. Essentially, she is simply fulfilling the role of the pet from the Torchlight series, but she is a character which you can communicate with and offers the story a lot more depth than the lone warrior and his pet routine.
There’s an interesting mix of gameplay involved too; where you have the standard hack and slash, move from point A to point B and eliminate everything in between, you also have some added elements, such as a kind of tower defence game, in which you have to lay down traps to protect the town from the advancing horde of seemingly infinite enemies. Additionally, the sheer number of enemies on screen at once and surrounding you is actually quite panic inducing and exhilarating.
However, it can very easily turn into chaos, and there are times where you’ll easily lose yourself among the countless spiders, Gollum-like creatures, huge monsters and winged nasties. Thankfully, though, the combat system is engineered cleverly enough for you to compensate to some degree. By hitting a key you are able to instantly swap between your melee and ranged attack weapons, and you can combine your modifier attacks to unleash certain doom upon all within range.
There can be a lot of information to process during times of intense combat, but the first part of the game, which is for all intents and purposes an overly long tutorial, leads you gently by the hand and through the general ins and outs of the TIAVH way of doing things.
Graphically, TIAVH is a splendid example of what can be achieved when you take the ARPG system and mix it with a cleverly designed gothic world. Yes you have dungeon-esque areas, but there’s also a lot of outdoor work, which breaks the monotony. Likewise, the voice acting is very good, although some characters do seem a little forced at times, but the dialogue has a nice mix of humour and intensity.
The multiplayer mode adds some longevity to the game, and is just as frantic at times, although it did seem rather laggy when we tested it. That said, TIAVH is a very good game, and one that ticks all the necessary ARPG boxes.
• Price: £11.99
• Manufacturer: NeoCore Games
• Website: http://store.steampowered.com/app/215530/
• Required spec: Windows XP or later, dual-core 2.GHz CPU, 1 GB RAM, DirectX 9.0 graphics