Games such as Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 are a different experience for gamers to behold. They require you to be on the ball all the time in order to combat a combination of puzzles, enemies and environments. A new comer to the genre, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, shows a lot of promise. It tries to bring some new elements to the table as well as improve on old ones. But can the legendary Monster Hunter become an iconic game character or will he be put to one side as others take the crown?
The title looks beautiful and truly encompasses the feel of both fantasy and steampunk. This is how you truly create an interesting world for a game. The environments differ from woodland, to mining tunnels, to mysterious worlds cursed by the ‘Ink’. Some of my favourite areas of the game are the places that have electrified fences and big machines powering them in the middle of a forest. It truly shows how evil your ultimate foe really is and sets the tone perfectly for the game itself.
The story takes you, the son of Van Helsing, around the world to the town of Bolgovia where you must combat against monsters and find out why they are being more animalistic than usual. As well as confronting old monsters, you will also combat new creations and a machine army that stands in your way. Accompanied by a ghostly gal known as Lady Katarina, Van Helsing must put an end to the evil that surrounds this town.
The story is very easy to get into as you are introduced to the situation and the characters involved. Van Helsing and Katarina are completely voiced, as well as everyone else in the game, to immerse you further and connect more with other people. You will be laughing at some of the dialogue exchanged by the lady and the monster hunter as they explore the world and even chuckle at an NPC in the game that gets hurt whenever you click on him with your mouse cursor. It may not be the most in depth story from the get go, but down the line it becomes very compelling and intuitive.
The gameplay of these Incredible Adventures has to be one of the best improvements on the Action RPG set up that I have seen. In combat you can fight with swords or guns simultaneously with a simple press of a button to switch between different set ups. Your swords and guns have different types of magic spells and attacks in the skill tree that you can invest in ranging from explosive rounds to electrifying slashes. In addition to the skills, there are passive and active abilities you can take with you as well that can give you protection, healing or even more loot finding. The game even introduces you to a rage system that adds a new level to standard combat. In the skill tree, you can acquire specific abilities that add new effects onto your skill when you use rage. By simply pressing the space bar when you have enough rage, these abilities are activated that can inflict different effects onto your opponents. All this is possible just with Van Helsing as Katarina also has a few tricks up her sleeve.
Lady Katarina isn’t just a character meant to accompany you, she can also become a fantastic partner in combat and acquiring items. In game you can set Katarina to be in three different forms: a melee form, a ranged form and a ghost form. The melee for will have Katarina go toe to toe against enemies where she can inflict close quarters damage and become a formidable tank. The ranged form allows Katarina to stay in the back of a fight, allowing you to take the helm. She will fight with ranged attacks to help you combat against enemies. Her final form is the ghost for that allows her to not become targetable at all in combat, leaving all the fighting to you. She will instead prioritise picking up items and gold from enemies instead of being a help in a fighting situation. These allow players to truly build Katarina as they wish and use her as they please. Giving you an option to even just use her as a pack mule for all your items is a very good addition to those that prefer to run solo.
The fun doesn’t stop here however as Katarina can be fully customised to your preference. You can set her to use potions at a specific threshold, only to loot items of a specific amount and even tell her to loot everything for you so that you don’t have to pick anything up. On top of this some more classic additions have been added to what she can do as she can also be actively sent to town in the heat of battle to sell items and buy potions. Everything that Katarina is able to do really turns her into a great companion and not a hassle to deal with. You can either build her to fill a specific role or you can mix things up by turning her into a jack of all trades.
On top of what your characters can do, there are also three things that need to be brought up. First is the forging system in the game. With this, players can take their loot and forge them together to possibly create something better or more useful. This allows you to forge items that aren’t available to purchase in shops and can have effects only available through forging. This is a much better system as it doesn’t require any money to use and all it uses are items, which are in huge abundance in the game. Secondly there is the ability to hear rumours in the towns you explore. If you go around and talk to NPC’s or even listen in on conversations, you can learn the locations of quest items or even tons of treasure. This is a great mechanic as it rewards those players that explore and are constantly curious. Lastly there is the base of operations, Van Helsing’s personal underground base. Down here you can store items, forge items, create gems and set yourself up for the next adventure. On top of this however you can also set up traps in your base to keep monsters at bay as they will attack you down there. This adds in a tower defence mini game as you set up different combinations of towers that fight alongside you as you deal with the hordes.
Sadly there are a few problems in the game that some players may find as tough to understand or just bad. First is the difficulty of the game, it is pretty darn hard. At least early on in the game you will find that it doesn’t hold your hand in the early areas as you will come close to dying a lot. However this becomes worse later on as you may end up being too powerful against your opponents with your items and level. It seems as if the game’s enemies don’t scale with your current level which is definitely bad for those that want a constant challenge throughout.
Secondly some of the tutorials can be not as informative as other games. The title obviously doesn’t want to hold the players hand but it has to at least let the player know what things are in enough detail. Lastly there is the constant hordes of enemies being launched at you. Normally there wouldn’t be a problem with this as you would normally expect to fight large amounts of monsters in a game like this. However the monsters that are launched at you do not seem to have that much variety. It is something small to consider as a problem, but if you want to create a game that you want to make challenging, a variety of foes can help with that.
Overall the game is an amazing experience to behold as you travel the fantasy steampunk world and combat against many different creatures to get o your final goal. Challenge can spike and heavily lower at times which can be inconsistent, but overall the game does make itself more enjoyable with the addition of fully voiced characters and a series of events that will literally have you on your toes.
So what do you guys think of the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing? Do you think it is the dominant game in the genre or do you reckon it will get hunted down like a beast? Let us know what you think about the game in the comments and be sure to pick it up today on Steam.