Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Andrew "Reviews": The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

After the Steam Summer sale (a.k.a. my wallet weeps in pain after I buy lots of games), I decided that I needed to finish the games that I did own before I went on to buy even more games.  While examining them last Saturday, I noticed "The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing".  I'd played it some before with a friend of mine but the multiplayer was still laggy and buggy, so we both forgot about it.  I picked it up, and then started to notice that they had a new class that you could play as.  I immediately started a new game with the new class, and then went on the play through the whole game.

The Adventures of Van Helsing was published on 22 May 2013 by Neocore Games.  It is available on Steam currently.  The game is an action-RPG that plays very similarly to Diablo 3 (that was the most recent game that it reminded me of).  The player takes the roll of the son of the famous vampire hunter, Abraham Van Helsing.  He sets out in response to a mysterious letter to the fictional country of Bargovia.  On the way, he faces hordes and hordes of monsters.

This is a 'small' horde of monsters
Overall, I really enjoyed the game.  The game is beautiful.  There's no other way to say it.  The hordes of monsters could be quite terrifying at times (when about 50 monsters started rushing me at once, I seriously doubted my survival).  However, the skills available to the player always leave me feeling like I could come out of the top of any fight, provided that I used my skills and 'tricks' correctly.

There's nothing more satisfying than being the last one staning
There are two available character classes: the Hunter and the Thaumaturge.  The Hunter is a classic monster hunter.  They can use a variety of swords or ranged weapons and get access to some magical abilities ranging from a lightning bolt to being able to add fire to their sword swings.  The Thaumaturge plays more like a mage or a wizard in other games.  They start out with a simple energy bolt spell that shoots out two small balls of lightning.  Later then can throw ice, conjure small blizzards, confuse enemies, boil their blood, mind control enemies, summon columns of raw energy, and create void spheres.  Needless to say, I quite enjoyed the Thaumaturge class.
Thaumaturge using Energy Spool and blizzard
Both classes have access to 'tricks' and 'auras'.  Auras are basically passive effects that help boost the character.  For example, I used one aura that would heal my ghost friend whenever I channeled my rage into boosting my spells.  I had another that would protect me from ranged attacks.  Tricks ranged from my throwing down an area of effect heal, to short term invulnerability, to calling down meteors from the sky.  There are even 'perks' that the character can unlock and use throughout the game.  Perks were very flavorful passive bonuses for the character.

Even more recently, they added in something called 'Glory'.  By complete max level scenarios, the player can earn glory points.  When they earn enough, then earn  glory level which gives them points that they can then apply to all of that player's characters.  (It reminds me of 'Bad Ass' ranks from Borderlands 2).

The games difficulty really started to hike up near the end.  If I didn't pay careful attention, then I could find myself dead really fast.  The final boss was no exception.  I made the mistake of not dodging his attack, and I died right afterward.  On the other hand, I felt like I was cheating at the game.  I could regain health by hitting monsters.  I could summon a void sphere that would hit multiple monsters.  I would then stand in melee range, summon a sphere, slowly kill the monsters while healing all the damage I took.  It was kind of fun, yet also felt kind of cheap.

One thing that I didn't like about the game was how the end game felt.  I felt like I hit max level at about the right time.  After that, it felt like my progression in the game came to a grinding halt.  I no longer earned any more skill points or ability points.  I was limited to 10 perks (which are permanent, there is no way to undo them!).  Also, I had no idea what to do once I beat the final boss.  At least in Diablo 3, there were harder difficulties that I could replay the game on.  It felt like there was nothing really to do except scenarios to gain glory.  Unless I wanted to restart with a brand new character.  Also, I had a real hard time finding new gear at that level.  In fact, I had a level 5 head piece that I was still using at level 30 (nothing better came up).

Basically, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing was a beautiful, fun adventure, yet one that I probably wouldn't do again.  The game is fun to play, especially if you can play with a friend.  However, there doesn't seem to be very much replayability as far as I could see.  The game felt short.  I started playing it Saturday, and finished it Sunday evening.  I played about 15-18 hours from start to finish.

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