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A Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

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    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    A Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is a top-down isometric dungeon crawler that pays homage to classic pen and paper RPGs. Players control the son of the legendary monster hunter Van Helsing, named in Jr., in his quest to assist his father’s allies against a mad scientist. Despite a promising plot setup, a gripping aesthetic, and really solid game mechanics, Van Helsing has more than it’s share of problems holding it back from anything promising.

    The most noticeable, and admittedly the most irksome problem is found before you even start playing. For the initial character creation, players have a choice of one of three characters classes, two of which are locked behind a paywall. This wouldn’t bother me as much as it does if there were more than one alternative, but unless you shell out a few bucks you can only play as the default hunter. As soon as gameplay starts the combat feels snappy and attentive, giving players a choice between melee and ranged weapons. A quick glance at the menu indicates two things; there are plenty of skills, equipment combinations, stats, and passive abilities to promote diversity from player to player, and that you’ll have a hell of a time figuring it out. The UI is so cluttered and convoluted that it’s likely to turn more than a few players away.

    As stated before, there are plenty of options to choose how to develop your character: different skill combinations can create a wide array of builds, from tanky melee fighters to long ranged life stealers to dodgy gunfighters, but the problem is there’s little reason to. For my character, I poured my skill points into Dexterity (ranged damage), specd my items for HP boosts, and equipped a few life steal accessories, and this allowed me to one-shot most every enemy I came across. Some of the more dangerous mobs later in the game posed more of a threat, but luckily the game provides a slew of insanely powerful AoE skills. On a side note, mobs seemed very lazily placed, almost like the developers’ aim was to simply fill the map with hastily placed mobs for the player to cut through.

    As promising as the story seemed, don’t expect too much from the end result. With a plot full of clichés, forced jokes, and awkward characterization, there’s a lot left to be wanted. I feel as if the character of Van Helsing was going through an identity crisis. His dialogue left me confused while he transitioned seamlessly from stygian humor to (attempted) ruthless badassery. His ghostly companion, Lady Katarina, was a little more chipper and humorous, albeit still bland. The game was packed with references to pop culture and media which I will admit to a few making me chuckle.

    And last but not least, the coup de grâce, TIAoVH is episodic! Snooping around player forums online, the PC version is expecting a Part II sometime in the near future with Xbox still in the dark. All in all, Van Helsing is a pretty solid game with loads of potential marred by a bevy of balancing issues. It’s fun to play with friends, but I can’t recommend spending too much money on it.

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