The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, funky game or just funky name?
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is an action role-playing video game developed by the Hungarian independent development studio Neocore Games. Based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker, the game focuses on the trials of young Van Helsing, son of the legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing from the book. The game is set in a gothic-noir 19th-century Eastern Europe and contains "intentionally anachronistic humor and gadgetry". But is it any good by today's standarts? I think yes and I'll explain why you should take the trip to Borgovia!
Firstly a little bit about the game. You play as, you guessed it, Van Helsing but not the one you are thinking about. This is his son, a supernatural expert with little in the way of tact or restraint making him reckless and not wanted by the people around him. A new mysterious letter arrives which is addressed to your retired father, but since he is retired, you as the young Van Helsing must travel there to eradicate the problem (no spoilers!). The task before him is difficult and the road is filled with peril, that's why you are not alone, somebody or better, something follows you. Where would any adventurer be without his trusty ghost sidekick. Yep, that’s right, ghost sidekick! Her name is Katarina, a ghost that was saved by the original Van Helsing decades previously and thus is now bound to serve Van Helsing in his quests; she herself enjoys the call for adventures, but of course she would never tell Van Helsing that! She injects some much needed hilarity into the adventure because her personality clashes so much with Van Helsing’s. The characters are very well written, well-developed, interact perfectly with each other and I can say only good things about them. Anyway together you travel from London across the sea to the Thunderhead Mountains (annoyingly you don’t play any of this in the game!) and that’s when your adventure really starts.
Now the primary goal is obviously to reach to the location the letter was talking about and see what is the problem that must be dealt with (no spoilers!). To do so you must travel on foot through many villages defeating many enemies. You defeat the enemies in a simple point and click fashion and can do so by wielding double guns or double swords or combine both. Of course guns are better long range whereas swords suit close range combat, in this and every respect the game is very simple, defeat enemies to reach your location, loot their bodies and power up your skills and weapons. That is the only thing you do and it can get a little repetitive. Not criticizing many top games e.g. Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 which have kinda the same premise, in fact I would say that TIAoVH is very reminiscent of those games.
On route to Borgovia you will encounter many missions and many optional extras like side quests which are available almost right from the start of the game. This adds to the already lengthy lasting appeal which can only be a positive for the game and something that distinguishes itself from the games I have been playing recently e.g. Tomb Raider and Remember Me. In fact if I had to rate the game based on length alone it would be an easy 9! The same can be said for accessibility of the game, the game has the inept ability to allow you to jump straight into it without the lengthy introduction period you might have become accustomed to and with a myriad of difficulty settings, you are sure to find the one that is right for you and your gaming ability making it more accessible.
As you progress through the game, you get closer and closer to unveiling the mystery of the letter and solving the crisis in Borgovia and as it is in all RPGs, the enemies get stronger as you do, as well as the weapons you wield and the strength of your abilities (based on the skill points you spend)(it would be rather stale if they didn’t!). The game in my opinion is consistently enjoyable and has much to offer for die hard and new RPG fans alike and is consistently enjoyable from start to finish with few to no dull spots in between (this applies exceptionally well to the boss battles, especially the final boss). This is probably mostly true because of the franticness of the action (you will be clicking none stop!). The sound effects of the game are fantastic which is more than I can say for the voice acting and even though I tend not to elaborate on things like this (truth be told I tend to like poor voice acting like Shenmue 2 and Yakuza!) but this can be very annoying to some people. Of course as is a standard thing for games of this genre, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing can be played cooperatively which it is still a nice feature. The customizability of the characters is fantastic and makes you easily distinguishable when playing with friends online and this again makes its self stand out. Some people I heard did complain of connection issues however I did not experience any.
Now of course not everything about the game is good. The fact that it is a point and click of course means that it cannot be played with a controller! So if you are like me and enjoy the feel of a controller more so than the mouse and keyboard then you’re out of luck because this game does not support it. Strange since this is also for Xbox 360. Also the graphics are hardly next generation; don’t get me wrong they are acceptable and I even quite like them (in fact they actually are supported by my laptop which is excellent and it adheres to the 1890s style the game is trying to reproduce which sounds simple enough but this is a premise that many game developers decide to overlook for some reason) but when measured up against other PC games available on Steam the game obviously comes up short. I also found the tutorial section of the game to be quite ropey and although I have played games like this before and I therefore didn’t struggle, maybe a newbie might have some difficulties which is obviously a negative.
Bottom line: All in all a diamond in the rough that falls short of making video game history because it is just not polished enough. The game have something to offer to die hard and new RPG fans alike. A game that is consistently entertaining and excellent value for money. At only £12 on Steam and way less during sales, this is a more than reasonable price for a game that is better than most new console game releases, the lengthy duration of the game should keep the gamer occupied for some time which also makes the game great value for money. Also Neocore announced that the sequel is in the works, so that is good too!
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing was reviewed on a PC using a promo code provided by Neocore Games. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is now available for PC and Xbox 360.