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The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

Van Helsing, also known as Doctor Abraham Van Helsing, is best known for his role as a vampire/monster hunter in the 1897 publication of “Dracula”.  In “The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing”, players will take on the role of the legendary doctor himself and embark on a journey through the gothic world of Borgovia.  This particular game draws some similarities to the “Torchlight” and “Diablo” series in that it is an action-RPG, but it does some pretty unique things that make me want to keep playing.  Before we get started, I’d like to thank Orsolya Toth from NeocoreGames for providing me with a free review copy.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing (Windows, Mac, XBLA)

The main menu allows the player to participate in single or multiplayer games and adjust game options.  There are some other buttons available so as to connect to the official website and various social medias, should you need to.  The options menu covers all of your basics and then some, touching on screen resolution, graphics quality, audio, and more.  The single and multiplayer menus allow you to create a character, though in the case of the latter, the character file is stored on the Steam Cloud preventing a person from editing the files locally.  Creating a new character gives you the ability to assign a difficulty, toggle hardcore mode, and choose a basic color scheme for your costume.  Whichever mode you choose, you’ll be given the option to create or join a game via a lobby system.  A friends list is located off to the side to facilitate the drop in/drop out mechanic.

The interface is both sleek and familiar, allowing those who have played action-RPGs before to navigate the various panels and menus with relative ease.  Your minimap and objectives are displayed along the top right corner of the screen with your “pet’s” information panel displayed in the top left.  Along the bottom are your skills, health, and mana displays, as well as buttons that give you to access various menus.  Experienced vets of the genre will have no trouble at all in acclimating themselves to how the game functions or how to navigate the village once they reach it.  Villages/Towns, for those of you unfamiliar with action-RPGs, serve as a home base of sorts so that players can sell & store items, buy new equipment, accept quests, and purchase skill upgrades.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

The interface is clutter-free, giving you more room to appreciate the combat.

Before I touch on the various menus, it’s important to quickly note that your “pet” in this game is known as Lady Katarina.  You can access her character menu in the upper left corner of the interface, which then allows you to equip her with gear that you might find lying around or may have purchased.  She’s primarily used to support your character and comes with a simple inventory system, much like your pet does in the “Torchlight” series.  You can send her to town to sell items for you and you’ll have the ability to customize the way she levels up.  With that said, I found the pet system in this game to be more advanced and in-depth when compared to “Torchlight 2”.  The behavior system for example, which allows you to customize what items she picks up and how she acts in combat, is a nice touch.  The dialogue between her and Van Helsing is pretty entertaining, and the voice acting ensures that you won’t have to read too much.

There are quite a few menus to navigate, but they can all be accessed via the buttons in the lower right portion of the interface.  Your inventory menu shows you what your character has equipped, as well as what he is holding in his inventory.  Lady Katarina has a similar menu under her character panel.  Hovering over an item in your inventory allows you to see its stats, as well as compares it to what you currently have equipped.  The character sheet is where you can level up your four primary attributes (body, dexterity, willpower, and luck) and see your resistances, DPS (damage per second), and other statistics.  Your skills menu allows you to assign skill points among two trees, as well as a “tricks and auras” menu.  The two trees (mystic warrior and occult hunter) allow you to unlock new abilities and specialize your character.  The tricks and auras menu is a bit different, but you can level up tricks (active) and auras (passive) while being able to assign which ones you want active.  Perks are passive bonuses that you can unlock as well through reputation gains.  The map, achievement, and journal buttons do what they suggest without a hitch.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

These screens should look familiar…

In terms of combat, your character will be able to switch between a ranged weapon and a melee weapon, via the buttons on the lower left portion of the interface.  Combined with the behaviors you can set for Lady Katarina, there’s a few different ways you can play.  You can stay at range and let Lady Katarina be your tank, or take an active melee role while she pelts enemies with spells from a distance.  There’s even a “ghost” mode you can send her into, which prevents her from doing damage but gives you a ten percent defense increase.  Items themselves come in various rarities, which you’d come to expect from an RPG.  Your gray items are your standard items, while greens, blues, purples, and etc. indicate better quality items.

The game does have a few faults, but not very many.  At the time of writing (5/27/13), there’s a bit of a hiccup with the matchmaking in multiplayer, though the developers have announced that they were working on the issue and intend to rectify it as soon as possible.  I had some difficulty navigating the lobby, as well as assigning a password to my custom game.  At present and in my opinion, multiplayer could use a little work in order to bring it up to speed with the rest of the game.  I experienced some long load times and lag despite my ASUS gaming laptop’s power, though it’s possible that my problems are an isolated incident.  It’s also worth noting that you’ll need 20 gigabytes of disk space to accommodate the game, which is staggering compared to “Torchlight 2’s” 1.2 gigabyte requirement.  The graphics are less cartoony and more on par with “Diablo III”, which may be why there’s such a hefty difference.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

I tend to forget about the lag when pouring over my skill trees.

Overall, I found “The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing” to be a surprisingly deep game, despite the hack and slash natures apparent in action-RPGs today.  What attracts me most to this game is the sheer amount of different ways you can customize both your character and Lady Katarina.  It takes my favorite features from “Torchlight 2” and “Diablo 3” and rolls them into one nice, meaty package.  The combat itself felt really good, to the point where wading through hordes of enemies never got dull.  I’d honestly recommend the game for its single player experience alone, though I have a feeling that the game will be even better once multiplayer gets up and running the way it was intended.  It’s a solid action-RPG, one that you won’t want to pass on, especially for the $14.99 price tag it advertises.

Final Verdict: 8/10

You can learn more about and purchase the game by visiting the following websites:

http://www.neocoregames.com/

http://devblog.neocoregames.com/order/projects/the-incredible-adventures-of-van-helsing/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/215530/

You can view video play sessions here:

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