The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

The Incredible Adventures of

Van Helsing III Review




A couple of years back, I was positively surprised by then newly released a RPG title built by NeocoreGames. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing went through many iterations, only to finally turn into a classical, albeit incredibly well-built hack ‘n’ slash set in the universe of Van Helsing. Exactly one year later, a follow-up was released and, contrary to what everyone expected it to be, it wasn’t a rehash nor a recycled product. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 2 was, without a doubt, a brilliantly built piece of software. Large, filled to the brim with content and engaging, it was easy to get lost and simply hack and slash away to the monstrous mobs we had to face. Another year later, I’ve got the third and final Van Helsing game in my paws, one I expected to be an even better title, yet I can’t help but feel that something went wrong during its development.


This game’s UI sure is busy.

It’s not that I set my own expectations too high – Neocore did that for me with their previous outings in the series. Particularly the second game, which offered several dozen gameplay hours with ease. Upon kickstarting the review build for the first time, I deleted the preview character and built a new one from the scratch – a Bounty Hunter, so that my Van Helsing stays true to what I imagine the man to be. The first and perhaps most prominent change from the previous outings is that there are six classes available, instead of the usual cast we’ve grown accustomed to by now. The Bounty Hunter is your classical Van Helsing character, with a preference for ranged combat over close-quarters trifles. It’s a rather open-ended class you can build to accustom multiple gameplay preferences, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The Umbralist is a magic-focused assassin that will want to avoid going headfirst into battle. Shadowy teleport abilities and invisibility should help with that. The Elementalist, similar to my preferred class, tries to keep at a distance from the angry mobs, using the elements to magick them into a more… docile state. He synergizes nicely with the Protector – a dedicated melee fighter who tanks trash mobs and provides limited crowd control for others to take advantage of. The Constructor is, obviously, an engineer of sorts who makes great use of his mobile assault platform on which all kinds of weaponry is mounted. He prefers to support his ever-growing army of mechanical minions instead of going into all-out combat. Finally, the Phlogistoneer represents the true tank of the bunch, having been fitted into a mech armed with missile pods and high-caliber firearms. The classes are definitely nicely varied and can compliment each other in multiplayer quite well, but the fact that the level cap now rests at 30 kind of kills the joy of progression. This wouldn’t be bad in and of itself had the number of available active skills not been so damned low. Granted, each does have a number of modifiers we can choose from, but the skills “trees” simply feel claustrophobic this time around. This is my main gripe with the game: while it certainly does offer more choice to the budding player in terms of character class, the selection of skills has been overly simplified. It shouldn’t matter much though since the game can be finished much sooner than its predecessors could be. You’re looking at some nine to twelve hours of effective gameplay, whereas the second game could easily reach over twenty on your first play through.

It’s not all bad though. The core of what makes The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing such a successful series is still there, as is the atmosphere and witty dialogue we’ve enjoyed before. Katarina and Van Helsing still engage in amusing banter, and the writing is good enough to emphasize its qualities without coming off as obnoxious and boring. The voice-over is also above genre average, and the game’s soundtrack will surely have you listening carefully to your favourite tunes as they pop up during gameplay. The atmosphere is as gloomy as it always was, with Van Helsing’s hideout now busier than ever. I love the new features available there, too, as they add much to the meta of the game. The Chimera is definitely my favourite. Visually, the game looks basically the same as Van Helsing 2 did, albeit running more nicely on the same hardware. I did experience a couple of crashes though, so waiting for the game to get patched might be a wise idea before embarking on its quest properly.

The thing is; this isn’t a bad game at all. It’s just that, after the amazing second game, this seems like a sidegrade at best, rather than a proper upgrade it should have been. It’s not difficult to have fun while romping through the ever-growing hordes of fascinatingly designed monsters with each of the gimmicky classes on offer. There’s a lot of statistical data doing rounds all the time, and delving into that reveals that the depth of the previous titles is still here, better than ever, simply hidden away. You can still modify each active skills with three upgrades that drain your adrenaline. You can still join multiplayer games and kick ass in tandem with a pal. There is a fair amount of things to do here, and the best thing is that the game is fairly cheap. The thing is; The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 2 is, at the time of writing, nary a euro more expensive and seemingly much better, more focused and intense.

There’s potential to be found here though, and the devs have said that they plan to combine the entire trilogy into one coherent whole soon (content and mechanics-wise), so there’s hope for the issues to be looked at eventually. I’ve had fun with the game, no doubt about that, but its strange limitations always seemed to be holding me back in one way or another. I can’t shake off the feeling that several more months of active development would help the devs to alleviate the problems the game currently has in one way or another. If you’re a big fan of the series, do invest in the game. It retains all the high points of the series’ hack and slash gameplay easily, while attempting to streamline the experience perhaps a bit too much. If for nothing else, then to see how Van Helsing and Katarina wrap their story up, with her nagging all across Borgovia along the way, of course.