Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing
 BLOG ABOUT THIS

Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

2:00 PM on 06.05.2013 // Patrick Hancock
  @therealhancock

Actually, it's pretty credible

I didn't know what to expect before playing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. I've seen the movie, but I don't remember much from it other than Wolverine fighting a lot of monsters. Luckily, that basic knowledge was all I really needed in order to understand what was happening in Van Helsing.

I believe the now common term to describe this genre is an Action RPG (ARPG), or in other words a "Diablo-like." These days ARPGs are fairly common: the divisive Diablo III, the mod-friendly Torchlight II, the free-to-play Path of Exile, and the upcoming Grim Dawn are all possible alternatives, so entering into the genre isn't exactly filling an empty void. Van Helsing definitely sticks to some of the core elements players have come to expect from an ARPG, and at least tries to spice things up along the way, even if it isn't successful.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing (PC)
Developer: Neocore Games
Publisher: Neocore Games
Release Date: May 22, 2013
MSRP: $14.99 
Rig: AMD Athlon 7850 2.80 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, GeForce GTX 560 Ti GPU 

If you didn't see the 2004 Van Helsing movie, allow me to get you caught up on all the pertinent information: Van Helsing is a monster hunter. Alright, now that we're caught up, there's not much more to go on about for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. You play as Van Helsing's son, who I think is also named Van Helsing? I'm not really sure.

Anyway, Van Helsing Jr. and his ghost-sidekick Katarina are going to a town called Borgova, but must kill monsters first. Then, when they get to Borgova, they have to kill more monsters. Then NPCs say "Hey, can you kill these monsters?" and they have to kill those monsters. The plot isn't remotely interesting or engaging, and there are way too many non-contextualized real-world references to make it believable.

For example, at one point in the game I thought I heard a voice-over of an actually-not-terrible impression of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. Sure enough, it was a small goblin-like creature with "Baggins" as its surname, spouting line after line about "my preecccciiooouuusssssss." Not only did this come off as incredibly lame and forced, but he constantly runs away into groups of enemies, forcing the player to hear his near-constant voice work while fighting the other enemies. Blech.

As an ARPG, Van Helsing doesn't do too much to stray from the "standard" control scheme. In other words, you will be clicking the mouse buttons a lot in order to kill enemies. Mr. Helsing II has two combat modes: ranged and melee. Each has its own skill tree and while the game seems to want the player to level up both, in order for either to be effective some bias is needed.

Leveling up will grant stat points and skill points, to be distributed as the player sees fit. The game does do a pretty great job of providing hard numbers for each statistic, ensuring that players know exactly what they're getting when committing points. There are plenty of options available to make sure that players can tailor their character to their playstyle.

Skills can be upgraded by either spending skill points on them directly, or on up to three power-ups that will alter the skill in small but important ways. These power-ups could be as simple as "50% extra damage" or adding life leech to a skill, but they aren't active unless the player wants them to be. A Rage meter, separate from Mana or Health, builds when an enemy is killed, and it's with this Rage that the player activates power-ups.

Pressing the 1, 2, or 3 key will spend Rage points on the corresponding power-up for a skill. So if the first power-up is "2% life leech," and the player presses the 1 key followed by the skill, that skill's life leech will be applied and Rage will be spent. The interesting bit is that the player can press the 1 key three times, turning the 2% life leech into 6% life leech at the expense of triple the Rage. It's an interesting mechanic that keeps combat a little more active than clickity-clickclick-clickity.

Katarina plays a similar role to that of the player's pet in Torchlight II. She can fight, buy potions, level up, and equip her own items. She can be set to ranged, melee, or a ghost form which cannot interact with enemies but instead buffs mini-Van Helsing’s defenses. The player can even set her targeting priorities, making her far from useless in battles. Her constant and repetitious quips, however, could have been left out.

Reputation can be gained from slaying the biggest and baddest of monsters, which is measured by a separate bar than the experience players get from killing the not-so-big and only-sorta-bad monsters. Leveling up Reputation grants a Perk, which can range from permanently buffing Katarina to adding inventory slots for Van Helsing 2.

Naturally, there is a Town Portal button, though it's a free one-way trip instead of the item-based "goes both ways" version most people are accustomed to. Some items will also need to be identified, though that is also free and not based on Identify Scrolls or anything, so really it serves no point whatsoever.

Speaking of loot, surprise! There is loot in this game. It isn't the uncontrollable driving factor that many ARPGs pride themselves on, but it is still really great to see rares drop. The bigger issue is that there's no originality to the items. Most swords have the same names, instead of the crazy adjective-laden ridiculous names that make each item unique typical in other games.

There's also an ill-explained tower defense element that's thrown in later on in the game. It comes out of nowhere and isn't all that interesting. If you happen to talk to the right NPC before taking the quest, you can lay down some traps before taking to the maze yourself. Otherwise, you will not be able to add any traps at all, thereby missing out on a huge opportunity to dispatch the monsters before they get to the base. There is no primer for this and it definitely feels out of place and confusing, which is a shame since it could have been a cool addition to the game if it were done properly.

I died a lot playing on Normal difficulty, but the game managed to not feel challenging in the least at the same time. Early on, the enemies have some decent variety as they get introduced to the player, but after a few hours enemy types seem to stagnate. Instead of throwing in foes that behave in interesting and unique ways, Van Helsing simply bombards the player with a veritable crap-ton of enemies constantly. Fighting group after group after group after group of the same enemy types gets boring really fast.

There is a multiplayer mode, though I can't personally speak for it. You see, launching the game through Steam results in the game running at an unplayable framerate. I'm talking freezing for 3-5 seconds constantly during battles. Running the 64-bit version through the Steam directory works fine, however doing so forces the game into offline mode, restricting multiplayer. I chose to actually be able to play the game.

I'm not completely certain why the game's performance tanks while running through Steam, but if the forums are any indication, it doesn't seem to be affecting everyone playing the game. Regardless, people who have way better machines than I are reporting the same exact issues and solution, and the developers are very aware of the problem. In fact, the development team has been very vocal about acknowledging the various problems players are having, which is always a good sign.

The game looks really good on high settings, and some of the enemy design is terrifically horrible. After all, this is a game about slaying monsters, so these monsters better have some good designs. Granted, they're not all winners, but the "abominations" in particular are great. The voice work is okay, which is all you could really ask for here, considering the story is completely forgettable. As a colorblindie, I did have some troubles seeing some of the greenish-brown enemies from the greenish-brown environments, but mindlessly clicking my way around ended up working just fine.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is a little more uninteresting than the title may lead some to believe. Power-ups add a bit of activity to the otherwise boring combat, though the game prefers piling up the sheer number of enemies instead of providing interesting ones. A forgetful story, performance issues, and an unexplained tower defense element hold Van Helsing back from living up to its true potential, and what's left meanders the line between standard and boring. 



THE VERDICT

5.5

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Reviewed by Patrick Hancock
Average - Like a meal of lukewarm water with white bread. It filled my time and my belly, but lacks any discernible flavor or nutritional value. A game that left me no different than it found me. Just passing through.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Patrick Hancock, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure therealhancock Tips
Watching and playing competitive games like Dota 2, Counter-Strike, and Rocket League take up most of his time. His three favorite non-video game things in the world are space, dinosaurs, and ... more   |   staff directory





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Opinions

Review: SWTOR: Anarchy in Paradise

The Streaming Noob:YTG vs TWITCH, Community, Growth, Rookie Mistake & The Future

Exclusivity is (mostly) Bad, except for when Nintendo is involved

Summer Wars: The Video Gameā€¦.I mean Digimon: Cyber Sleuth

Gaming's Beautiful People #4: Valentine's Day Special OR Love Multi-Kills

Exist Archive: The Other Side Of The Sky Import Review

Stupid Teens Do Stupid Things: An Oxenfree Critique

A blog test. Brought to you by Buckner & Garcia

Cblogs of 2/11/16, 2/12/16 + Firethoughts

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

absolutfreak avatarabsolutfreak
Maybe this has been addressed, but what the hell is going on with Disqus here?
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Also, I think my Wii U gamepad is on its last legs... the NFC reader is still kaput, the screen is rather smudgy and the L button is started to stick like a motherfucker. Sooner or later it's just going to stop working altogether methinks. :'(
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Younger me would be so disappointed in the gamer I am today. When did I stop finishing games? Seriously!
SayWord avatarSayWord
Hosting a Murder Mystery dinner tonight. What are the chances that I actually get to play myself? =P
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
We were discussing Ben Carson, pyramids, corpses, SoFlo, and Nekro's fetishes in the Discord chat if anyone wants to know what it's like down there.
lewness avatarlewness
Nintendo just sent me an email to say "Congrats on your new Wii U!". It wasn't new it got fucking FRIED and now all my stuff's gone after repairs - I was in Chapter 9! Chapter 9! 70+ hours on XCX! And that's just one game! I was- *walks off ranting*
JPF720 avatarJPF720
Bravo Undertale, bravo.
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
The most depressing Valentine's Day song ever, courtesy of Ole Blue Eyes.
PappaBear avatarPappaBear
I love my Elgato HD60
PappaBear avatarPappaBear
I'm doing a Jackbox Party games stream this afternoon/evening at 6PM EST. Would love to have the DToid community come join in! https://gaming.youtube.com/watch?v=axZGgeTepzs
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
It's Alcohol day. I've had Alcohol. Here have a page to hire Anita Sarkeesian for public appearances or speeches only $10K a time http://speakerpedia.com/speakers/anita-sarkeesian?from=speakear-sidebar
EdgyDude avatarEdgyDude
Irony: over 9000!. The same UN with staff distributing child porn, Saudi Arabia heading its Human Rights Council and troops accused of rape wants to school Japan on their treatment of women in videogames. You can't can't make up this stuff.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
So I got my game recorder. That's good! But I ordered the wrong one. That's bad. So just gotta send back to Amazon and order it. Could've sworn on the website it said the HD60 Elgato let you record old games too.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
It just occured to me that given the 99% probablility of there being an update pack to XCOM 2-ala Enemy Within-waiting for a while may be a better option, so that when I do get the game I get it in its optimal form-and on sale, to bring it below 90 total
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
My mustache froze while walking home from work. Fun!
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
I've discovered Fangamer... This stuff's amazing!
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
No comment.
Parismio avatarParismio
Omg i love the internet
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
Iron Paladin avatarIron Paladin
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -