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Editor’s Notebook: ‘The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing’ Hands-On Preview

Van Helsing

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing puts players in the boots of the son of Van Helsing. Aided by a ghost named Katarina, the son of Van Helsing must continue his father’s legacy, and travel through the lands, saving villages and destroying what monstrosities he comes across. Fans of Torchlight or Path of Exile will feel right at home with the game’s mechanics, as they are essentially the same point-click-run-pivot-attack style that fans of the genre have become used to. While blatant similarities to a competitor would typically hurt a game, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing pulls ahead of the competition thanks to its tongue-in-cheek approach to the genre.

The preview build I was given, provided me with about four hours of gameplay. At the start, players are dropped right into one of Van Helsing’s quests, and are given no opportunities to customize your character whatsoever. Because the story is so heavily centralized around Van Helsing, there is no room for other types of characters. So if you were hoping for a female Van Helsing…tough. Instead, players customize their character to their liking by selecting the abilities within the talent trees. I concentrated almost purely on building my Van Helsing as a ranged gunmen, dropping all of my talent points into Dexterity for added ranged damage, and choosing to increase my ranged attacks whenever it was possible. From what I’ve gathered, there are really only three “builds”: a gunmen build, a warrior build, and a mage build. For a game that needs to be able to be replayed multiple times (how many times did you play through Diablo 3?) it seems a bit strange that Neocore Games allowed for such few choices.

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I will say that plenty could be done with three classes of Van Helsing, but what I discovered while leveling up and unlocking abilities was pretty disappointing in the way of ability types. I had my left-click general ranged attack, and eventually unlocked a mana-consuming explosive shell that was bound to right click. When you attack enemies, Van Helsing builds up rage, and rage can be used to add modifiers to both the left and right-click attacks. The first modifier I unlocked was an explosive shell…not to be confused with my right-click attack…which is an explosive shell. Why do I need two attacks that do the same thing?

I should not complain though, because that explosive shell comes in handy when an army of swamp bests come scampering across your screen. Twelve, fifteen, twenty, hard to count at times, the game poured so many enemies at me that I simply stopped caring about strategy and simply spammed my explosive shell, which damaged multiple enemies at once. Through the latter portions of the preview, this is all I would do. No precision, no grace, just hold my ground and blast away. It worked though.

Katarina the ghost companion was hands-down my favorite aspect of my time with The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. The banter between her and Van Helsing had me chuckling quite a bit. The writers (and the voice actors) did a fantastic job with this game, and the minor issues I had with the mechanics, became easy to overlook. Katarina is a companion NPC that players can order around. She can be told to return to town to sell things, or to utilize melee or ranged attacks in order to compliment whatever build players select. She comes equiped with her own set of skills and can utilize the loot found throughout the levels. For once, a tagalong NPC was actually nice to have around.

Fans of Torchlight, Path of Exile, and Diablo should take note that The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is coming May 22nd. Expect a full review in the near future.

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IGM's Editor in Chief. Particularly enjoys games that let him break things. You can reach him at tom@indiegamemag.com or on Twitter: @tomscott90