Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: May 22, 2013
Available Platforms: Windows
Reviewed Platforms: Windows
Abraham Van Helsing, the son of the famous Van Helsing has travelled to Borgovia to investigate the town as some mysterious things are aloft. Van Helsing travels across the land to reach Borgovia battling creatures, villains, and mythical monsters. As he travels, he is aided by his, mostly annoying yet quick witted, ghostly apparition Katarina who will provide back up when Van Helsing runs into spots of troube. Traveling through the forest taking down werewolves and other crazy creatures of forgotten folklore, Van Helsing and Katarina subdue them all to in their quest to reach the town of Mordova, just outside of Borgovia. Mordova is where the end of the intro and the start the “Incrededible Adventure” begins.
After a cut scene of a map, inspired by Indiana Jones destination to destination animation, complete with voice over by our brash and laid back Van Helsing, the story reveals that both Van Helsing and Katarina have crashed their wagon and are being attacked. This is where we learn of the basic controls and how the combat system works. Overall it’s a decent combat system, allowing for customization and flexibility. The problems I faced, I had only felt the need to use and upgrad the ranged weapons and set Katarina to fight melee battles for me; this could be due to my poor abilities of Diablo-eque games in my gaming career. An issue I ran into at the start was how the windows that explained what I would need to do were cut off, which didn’t help my inability to branch out and expand my skills. If the text was longer than the box there was no way to scroll; if the objective had a longer title than could show up on the side of the screen, it would cut out mid word. Sure, minor issues overall but when the game is very heavily based on getting the gamer into the game with text and story, it brings you out of the game very quickly. Although this does not keep the game from progressing as they indicate flashing “ping” rings that show you where to go on the map.
After working his way into Mordova, Van Helsing meets the town folk. These towns folk are the “base” for Van Helsing. This is where you get the town/base instructions and what each person can do for Van Helsing and Katarina. I only only used the store to sell all the crap that you pick up, like a pack rat on a high, throughout the game. Though a more RPG minded player would find the uses of the enchanter to enchant their weapons more useful, I fund it to be insignificant for my play style. It’s here in the town that you learn of the ink gates, which are portals that traverse you between fighting locations by use of a mystical ink. How it works and where the ink comes from is never fully explained, just that it works and sometime you can get stuck in it and have to find your way out. Not terribly annoying as you do get to collect a lot of items to sell. Though, I never bought anything at the stores and I’m sure a more skilled player would find this useful. Being that I never purchased anything and horded money much like Scooge McDuck, I had gold coming out my pooper. This turned out to be extremely helpful as when you die you can respawn at that exact location for a fee, a really high fee. If you don’t have the cash, you can pop back to the beginning of the checkpoint for a lower amount or just head back to the town for free. With so much cash stored, I opted for the high baller status of respawning where I died. As you progress in your travels to Borgovia, fighting monsters and other interesting creatures, you find out just what has happened to the once run down despicable town they had come to know and love.
There isn’t too much to speak of when it comes to game play. If you enjoyed Diablo or just about any other RPG, this game will fit right into you satchel of fun. The game doesn’t reinvent anything or make you wish other games had a specific mechanic, but it is a game that can keep pace with many other well known RPGs out there. Movement is handled by either the left mouse button or with the arrow keys. I found a mix of the two was most comfortable to me. If I was traveling a long distance I just click on the edge of the screen and let Van Helsing and Katarina go off on their own. However, when I was in a densely populated area of enemies, the arrows were my go to. Attacking is handled by the left and right mouse buttons, the left using one power and the right another. As with other RPGs these are customizable and the player can even set quick toggles to switch between move sets quickly. In totals there are four different attacks that can be equipped at one time, two ranged and two melee. With a pretty standard upgrade tree, the gamer can make these abilities/attacks pretty powerful. As I stated earlier, I only used the ranged attacks and completed the game dying a few times. I actually never even touched my sword attacks as Katarina did all of my melee. Speaking on this, Katarina is able to hold and use weapons and items just as Van Helsing does, albeit in a smaller dose. She is also customizable in the sense that you can set her to attack to be ranged more or melee more. She can also be set on how often to use health and mana potions and even to what things she will pick up from the ground. I set her to collect my money so I never had to walk around picking it up. Van Helsing also has a Rage buff that will add specials that are upgraded to the ranged and melee weapons. I found this hard to get built up, but it could be due to me never using melee. However I never truly found out how to get and keep the Rage as it seemed to have something to do with attacking without getting hit, something I never really managed to perfect.
If you are a player that needs to have the best possible character with the best possibly stats and mathematically the best possible armor, well this game will be a thanksgiving day feast for you to gouge yourself on. Being there are so many items and weapons and possible combinations of upgrades to these, one could spend hours at the store just trying to figure out what is the best combo for Van Helsing and Katarina. I took the easy road and said, “Well the damage of this is higher and this item give me more defense, I’ll take these” and I was done with it. Along with the selling of weapons and items there are to aforementioned enchantments that can be purchased along with new skills and upgrades to the enchantment process. Not doing any of these, I have little to say about them, so I wont say anything more. However, there was one extra that I found fun and it was a type of tower defense game. The player finds machine parts dropped by enemies or found in chest throughout the game and use them to build traps to keep the secret lair safe. These traps include things like a launcher that sends the enemies flying off the side, a grinder that will take one enemy and grind them up in a pit, a monster in a box that has a non-controllable monster that will attack the hordes coming to take your base along with many other unique contraptions. This tower defense game was a little different as it allows the player to place the traps in specific locations, but does not control any of them. They are all automated and will deal a set amount of damage. However, the player is allowed to fight off the intruders with the traps set so they can back up as needed. A fun breakup of the game that allows for a slight rest. Though it does seem to be added storyline wise in haste, it is a welcomed sight in my opinion. It does help the game doesn’t take itself all that serious being a Van Helsing story based game.
I do have some minor issues with the game, but nothing that really takes away too much from it. Yes there are parts where the storyline is lost because I could not read the full description of my quest, but it never took me out so much that I had to stop playing. It actually took me so long to finish the game because I would have to schedule out enough time to play because once I sat down to play, I was there for hours fighting the beast of the Van Helsing world. Locking and loading my rifle, packing on my armor and duster, popping on my hat and running out into the middle of a crowd with Harpies, Warewolves, and Vampires. Enough to make me want to get into it again right now…must…resist…urge! As a gamer that tends to shy away from games that play more in the menus than in the field, I have to say this game has a story and dialog that captivated me and kept me wanting to play. This is a must for anyone who like RPGs and those who love a good crass story. What impresses me the most about this game is the creators took the story and world of Van Helsing, that in the main stream is considered sub par at best, convoluted with cheesy one liners and lackluster comedy making the comedy styling of Gilbert Gottfried seem fresh and innovative, and turned it into a rich world. A world deep in mystery, story, and content. Though the comedy isn’t always spot on, it is relevant. What is the meaning of life? 42! What Van Helsing finds a ring that give him ultimate powers stolen from a hunched creature devoting his life to his precious. Things like this and dozens more are found weaved into the dialog of this game and it is a welcomed sight. Thought one may not catch all the jokes and references that are thrown into the game , most are obvious and provide a little chuckle in the grim dark world of Van Helsing.
Warning: play this game knowing that at some point seriousness will be cast aside…which is roughly after the title screen and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Retails for: $14.99, Recommended Purchase Price: $14.99
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A download code for was provided by PR for review purposes