What would you do if you were stuck in the woods, just trying to get to the next village, but a drifter came along with a transparent companion? If your answer is to run away, it is nice knowing you. The son of Van Helsing is hunting making sure you have a safe journey to your destination, while there are many things roaming the forest to do bodily harm to you. If you are brave enough to take up arms and parade across the lands fighting off Werewolfs, demonic Nymphs and other ghoulish things that would feast on your very soul, then I say always take a trusted companion along with you, but for now please enjoy this review coming from NeocoreGames.
This is a re-imagining of the Bram Stoker fable of Abraham Van Helsing, which you play as his son continuing the family business. Actually I would say he has upgraded the business by not only taking on Vampires, but all things that bump in the night. The land of Borgova has become tainted with monsters, magic and weird technology that forces Van Helsing to adapt to the harsh conditions. There will be times where your family name will make others frown upon you, but at the same time everyone looks for a savior, especially when they are about to be ripped apart by a werewolf or some tripped out ghoul. In this gothic noir fictional kingdom of Borgovia will be where you make your own legacy as you try to adapt with weird environments and of course dealing with your ghost companion Katarina, who seems to be a true ball buster for the Helsing family. The 19th century is seeking salvation and I hope your blade is ready for the task.
This is an action role-playing game just like any other MOBA style, but strictly a story driven adventure that can be played cooperatively. It is all about how you want to build your Hunter and the right tools you will utilize throughout your journey. I myself and more of a brawler vs. being all about my magic; so I tend to put all my skill points in my melee, body, dexterity and of course Luck. However there are times when some magic will help balance out the situation, so I tend to dabble a bit of points in an electric power set. I am a veteran of Warcraft 3 and Leauge of Legends, so the similarities of the genre make it easy to navigate through Van Helsing. Even though the game-play has a few familiar mechanics, Van Helsing takes on its own personality which will drive you through the campaign. I would suggest stocking up on mana and healing potions, because the enemies come in swarm and depending on your weaponry, will determine how you will favor. The good news is you have Katarina by your side to help you through as your trusted A.I companion; however you need to build her up so she can survive in combat. In other words you are building for two people.
There will be two forms of combat between melee and ranged weaponry; this will determine how you will favor against the harsh monsters of Borgova. There will be times where you will have to think before you go into combat and I would suggest bringing out your ranged on the slower more powerful enemies, while taking out the faster, but weaker enemies with your melee. In terms of utilizing Katarina, she will work on her own, but do not rely on her too much, especially if you have not built her up to be a tank as of yet. The more you farm, the more you will be granted points to upgrade both characters and you will be granted with perks to give you that extra edge in battle. There will be many, “Oh damn!” moments when you walk into an area and a swarm of enemies just bombard you, but if you do go down in combat, you will be granted three options to respawn. There is a respawn fee mind you and it varies from offline to online the cost to be resurrected.
In terms of the online features which you can turn on or off at any moment by the way. I find a game like this very inviting for co-op players to go around and ravage the lands, but there is occasional trolls who joins your game that is over powered and is not there to really help you, but to be there to show off I guess. The max number of people to join you is up to four and this is an awesome drop in or drop out feature. I mean you can set up a game lobby or just turn on the option so a random player can either help you out or learn the mechanics. The community so far has been great and it is fun seeing the developers playing their own title, which builds up moral with us the gamer. The only thing I would ask other co-op players is to try not to skip through things because you never know who has not played the solo campaign yet.
It is all about the humor through a game that will keep us gamers interested and the commentary in this title is hilarious at times. The Playful banter between Katarina and Van is priceless, which begs the question about their partnership of a love/hate relationship. Katarina’s story is a harsh one, but she has managed to accept her fate as a servant to the Helsing family, but by choice. It is all about the all-around feel of the game that makes one connect and appreciate what is happening. I find the whole setting very poetic and settling in a horror comedy sort of way.
The visuals are well done, with an expanding world that breaths life in every area. It goes to show that it is not all about the high end graphics that will drive gamers, but the rich look and story that will keep us coming back to games. This title was done with a purpose of entertainment and shows how much care was taking into the detail of fictional 19th century, the different hazards and of course the people that you will have to save throughout your journey.
There are a few bad moments that I would like to share in terms of switching from offline to online. I noticed that the voice acting tends to disappear in certain areas vs. the small cut scenes that do occur. Now going back offline, there will be times that Katarina will become disobedient and not help out in combat; which is very bad because you forget that she is not with you since she always follows you. In one scenario during the wolf den mission, I went into battle and she was still at the front entrance doing something, until I ran back with a horde of werewolves. That’s when she would engage in to combat, but that happens more than once. I honestly felt that the developers should have added all the skins they were going to use instead of letting gamers vote for the best one. It would have given the game a better diversity for multi-player instead of just simply changing the color pallets and of course certain clothing details. That can be said for Katarina as well, but hopefully more dlc will come out in the future.
This review is quite finished and as I finally impale this she demon, I have come to one conclusion. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is a BUY! It is an addicting classic thrill ride with hilarious moments and unique situations. The one thing I forgot to mention is the choice system in certain situations; in one example where I had the choice of keeping the werewolf pack leader alive or not, however when going online my co-op partner didn’t leave much choice and just killed the monster. Thankfully the online and offline feature are two separate entities, which is a good and bad thing when you think about it. I can’t import my offline character to the online feature, so that means you have to start all over again, but the upside is playing differently, which grows the replay value. This title is also available on the Xbox 360 Marketplace, but this feels more comfortable as a keyboard/mouse kind of title. The price point at $14.99 and right now on the Steam Summer sale it is going for $11.24, not bad at all and there is already DLC available right now. If you want an awesome adventure filled with dark humor and great combat, then give this title a look into which is available right now. All right hunters Katarina and I have to head to the swamps and deal with some bog demons, but I hope you enjoyed this review. Stay frosty gamers!
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG, Indie
Rated: T for Teen
Kuma Kreations Rating: Buy