The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Review
And if I see Van Helsing, I swear to the Lord I will slay him!
I’ve played my fair share of hack-and-slash dungeon crawlers, but I have yet to play one that takes me into a 19th century world of classic myths and monsters. Until today, that is, when I fired up Neocore Games’ The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. The setting was enough to get my attention, but some of you may be here for different reasons so, it’s time to take up your sword and pistols, and start killing some werewolves. I hate werewolves.
If the name didn’t give it away, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is set in a gothic world resembling the classic 19th century, eastern european, setting that fans of classic monster tales know so well. This version, however has a few tweaks that really give you the impression that Neocore were trying to pay homage while making the backdrop their own.
You will play as the not quite as famous son of Van Helsing, the famed monster hunter, who travels around with a witty apparition named Katarina who will assist you in combat. The back and forth between these two characters is entertaining and manages to be funny without going over the top. In fact, the whole game is quite well written and it is easy to see the care and attention that went into designing the world and characters.
Combat will follow a very familiar formula, for those who have played any Diablo style hack-and-slash game before, with attacks mapped to the mouse buttons. Your Van Helsing will also be able to switch between sword attacks and gun attacks at the press of a button. This is the only real update to the combat formula you’re used to in this type of game, but why mess with something that works?
As you move through The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, you’ll notice that the game favors quick setting changes and a variety of backgrounds over larger areas to explore. I am a fan of this approach as a lot of similar games have you feeling like you’ve been staring at the same few trees, or same patch of desert, for far too long. Van Helsing keeps things fresh, and I like that.
No new ground is broken in terms of gameplay but, for some of you, that may be a good thing. The characters and setting keep things interesting, even after you realize that you’ve been down this road a few times before. Somebody has to shoot these werewolves, after all.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing offers online co-op for up to four players, so you and your friends can all get in on the monster-slaying action. Unfortunately, the game was released with the co-op component in a non-functional state.
During the first day, users were unable to connect to co-op games and those that did connect experienced major lag and syncing issues. Neocore Games were aware of this and reported, via the Steam forums, that the online portion of the game was ‘bugged’ and that they were working on a fix. Today, there was a small patch but it came with a warning from Neocore to not use your regular character as online games could still result in lost progress. We were able to connect and play a co-op game for a bit, but soon ran into issues where the players would go out of sync an appear stuck on the screen. We also experienced failure to load new areas when switching areas, and some of the lost progress mention in the patch report.
At this time, co-op is so unstable that we have to recommend you stay away completely. This is too bad, as we did have some fun during the short periods we were able to play.
If you really enjoy top-down, hack-and-slash, RPG’s then I think you’ll like The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. The setting, environments, and characters are quite charming and manage to stay fresh throughout. Unfortunately, the severe technical issues the co-op mode shipped with are going to mar the release of an otherwise decent game.
Release Date: May 23rd, 2013 (PC). Coming soon to XBLA.
Available On: PC via Steam