The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Review

Van Helsing is an entertaining, monster-killing, townsfolk-saving trek through 19th-century Eastern Europe.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing follows the son of Bram Stoker's famous vampire hunter. While the title might be a little overblown, this action role-playing game has an endearing charm, with a well-realized setting, solid combat mechanics, and a terrifically cheeky sense of humor.

Ahh…gothic Eastern Europe.

As the son of Abraham Van Helsing, you're asked to bring a bit of balance to the "gothic noir" land of Borgovia, a rendition of 19th-century Eastern Europe with just a hint of steam punk. This world stands apart from those in other Western action RPGs like Torchlight or Diablo in that it flirts with more modern visions of classical fantasy. Guns, steam, and an often unclear boundary between science and magic are the meat of Van Helsing's world, and the consistently inventive art direction helps realize the macabre environment.

That doesn't mean, however, that Van Helsing ever takes itself too seriously. Throughout the journey, your primary companion is one Lady Katarina, a ghost rescued by your father before the events of the game. She often offers sarcastic quips to quest givers, and spews snide remarks at the waves of fantastical monsters you meet along the way. It's a refreshing touch, and non-player characters are just as likely to contribute their own bits of subtly anachronistic humor mixed with some valuable nuggets of information, ranging from the locations of unmarked quests to monster weaknesses. As a result, conversations with the locals don't feel like the traditional Western RPG interrogations, and the game benefits, seeming more organic and lively.

The generally dull colors help highlight the supernatural elements of the game.

The clever writing and world building are wrapped around a tried-and-true core of action RPG mechanics. All of the basics are here: equipment, levels, skill and ability points, and a decent set of map and quest-tracking functions to help you on your adventure. Inventory management, adventure planning, and careful spending of points serve you well. Your weapons are organized in two sets: ranged and melee. While you do have the ability to switch between them on the fly, you can't use both at the same time.

These weapons also have their own skill trees and power-ups, and subsequent selections in one skill tree grant additional bonuses, encouraging specialization. For each weapon set, you can access only two specific skills at any given time, but with two sets you have four skills in total. Some hardcore fans of the genre may lament this design choice, but it helps keep things manageable during some of the larger battles. As a monster slayer, you tussle with some of the more wicked figures of classic fairy tales. Werewolves, demons, and their ilk all marshal their hordes against you.

Many of these monsters are excellently designed and feature visual flairs that you might not expect. It's all gorgeous stylistically. Technically, however, Van Helsing is somewhat clumsy. The interface, for example, while carrying all of the features you need, is a tad clunky. Your target's health bar is placed at the top of the screen, which is an awkward and unusual position. There is an option to show the health of all injured enemies, but activating it leaves you with a bright red block that can be distracting under the best of circumstances and can completely obscure both enemies and the environment under the worst. It's far from a huge issue, but these kinds of small annoyances are notable enough to detract from the overall experience.

Classic Tetris-style inventory management.

If those nitpicks aren't enough to scare you off, you'd do well to pressure some friends to join your gothic adventure. Multiplayer has always been a strong component of these sorts of games, and Van Helsing is no exception. There aren't clearly defined classes in the traditional sense, which does limit character customization to a degree--after all, everyone is playing as Van Helsing--but there's enough variety in the equipment and skill selection that there shouldn't ever be too much overlap. Unfortunately, as it stands right now, convincing friends to play might be the only way you get to experience multiplayer. Even a full week after the official release, finding games is tough, if not impossible most of the time. Thankfully, while nice, multiplayer isn't necessary to enjoy Van Helsing. An average player going through all side quests and extra content should be able to pull a good 20 or so hours from the game. For a budget-priced game, that's not bad.

Lack of community aside, Van Helsing's only real problem is that it doesn't go the extra mile. Nothing is particularly spectacular, but Neocore's latest game is a tight adventure with a few blemishes here and there, and it will keep fans of the genre enthralled for quite a while, especially if they can rustle up some friends to come along for the ride.

The Good
Clever, energetic writing
Great atmospheric setting
Excellent combat
The Bad
Clumsy interface elements
Multiplayer games are sparse
7.5
Good
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117 comments
Darkreaper_1
Darkreaper_1

I bought this game on steam when it was on sale with all the DLC last year.  I've finally gotten around to playing it yesterday and it is a little charmer!

The tutorial could be a bit better and it didn't pull me in straight away but the more i play it the more i'm enjoying it.  There's plenty of room to build a character that suits your style of playing which seems to be missing from a lot of recent games that give you pre-built or very limited characters for you to develop.

This game should of received more attention when it was released and I'm not surprised it has spawned a (soon to be released) sequel.

Alpr1010
Alpr1010

Just bought the game since doing some research, the comments here helped my decision. Now the problem is when to play it, have too many to play :D

KoRniTo
KoRniTo

Nice game indeed, got this during the steam summer sale and I'm loving it!

Grayzer
Grayzer

Just got this during the Steam special and I am pleasantly surprised!

mixalisss13
mixalisss13

there aren`t event visuals for the skills you upgrade.

hfgfhd
hfgfhd

Ohh, what's that smell, Diablo 3?

Will try this game anyways cause it looks cool.

Vincent_Wolf
Vincent_Wolf

I never touched Diablo 3 after beta, I played PoE for few good hours then I got bored to the point of never playing it again, this game however keeps me interested. I played it whole weekend and I think I'm getting closer to end. It's a bit short if it only has 2 big maps, but overall a highly enjoyable game (even though, hey, I heard d3 is 3 hrs long?). Gonna try clearing it on hardest difficulty next.

And yes, <3 Katarina.

syam32245340
syam32245340

Katarina is one hilarious lady! Err I mean ghost...

GAKSITAL
GAKSITAL

bought it on STEAM right away.   good game. great price!!!  

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

There's not enough games these days that start with "The Incredible Adventures of..."

Dargoth
Dargoth

Awful combat mechanics coupled with clunky controls. It looks like this - you get swarmed by a huge horde of mobs, where you can't even make out individual enemies and therefore can't target them. Or for that matter you can't even see your own character. So you just click-click-click away until everyone is dead. Puny attempts at making it more tactical (like the gauge that fills up gradually while you're in combat and lets you apply various additional effects to your attacks) just don't work in this meatgrinder of a game. So this one just gets boring after a dozen fights, and for a diablo-clone that is a death sentence. Path of Exile is mentioned frequently in the comments, and yea, it is indeed much better than Van Helsing's Adventures.

nicholaiwolf
nicholaiwolf

If anyone doesn't know, you guys should really try Path of Exile. It's ten times better than D3, and clearly better than Van Helsing. It's in open beta now and completely free, no cash shop bullsh.t etc. Game play changed dramatically, 1300 passive points that u can design as you will, you get your active skills from gems only (drop and quest reward) etc... It's the best ARPG atm, check it out ;)

outlawst
outlawst

at first it maybe seems boring or complicated , but it will be so entertaining then... my opinion 7.5 of 10 is fair.

AzatiS
AzatiS

its funny how negative are so many people towards this hidden gem , considering they gave only 9$ for it ...


If you are negative about this game , what then with 59$ of Diablo 3 ?!! 


This game is good. Not excellent but not bad either. And for 9$ ... i consider it a must buy/play like i do with Torchlight/2/PoE.

jansdman
jansdman

Got the game with the 10% off. Enjoyed it like I enjoy every action RPG games around. No comparing needed since it has it's own charm. I can't believe the reviewer didn't give merit on voice acting and music. I swear while I'm playing this game the music reminded me of Sherlock Holmes movie. 

Cloud_imperium
Cloud_imperium

Not bad . Yep , WILL play this after I finish downloading RE Revelations and Bioshock Infinite . I love isometric ARPGs .

BlackPhoenixBG
BlackPhoenixBG

the game is pretty bad - mostly because of the skills and the horrible lack of diversity. You pretty much are stuck with only 2 skills during the whole game because that's the most efficiant way to survive the higher difficulties -.-

vannacut
vannacut

max resolution in the options menu is 720p?

edinko
edinko

" For each weapon set, you can access only two specific skills at any given time, but with two sets you have four skills in total."

Of course this sounds like a classic case of dumbing down for consoles cause this is coming to the 360 which of course doesn't have enough buttons to operate more skills.

Its a shame that so many games are crippled because you have just a few buttons available on a gamepad.

Sony and M$ obviously didn't learn from nintendos gamepad and the next gen games will have to be nearly exactly as dumbed down for bad controls like today. Specially for the Xbone , The Ps4 has a touchpad at least.

eLite0101
eLite0101

I havent played yet only saw gameplays so I could be wrong, but what exactly is so captive in this game? To me it look rather cheap(and not only price which is good of course), not even taking itself seriously with those silly dialogues and bad voices, no suspension or climax. So aside of usual stats grinding and typical gameplay, how u guys compare this game to others? And is story really good enough compare to concurrence? I am really baffled by such positive comments and ratings. Enemies just stay still till u get close and then rush on you... like no much life and anything spectacular happening, but I like to hear your opinions - thanks in advance.

zyxahn
zyxahn

Yeah for 12 dollars or so after the mini discount on Steam, it's a pretty ggod game.  I wish that they would have put it on at least 1 of the consoles though.

Goodelf
Goodelf

No mention in this article of how you can sometimes turn quest items in to different characters and screw yourself out of character stat/skill points for gold instead (the game never tells you there is more then one option)

Daian
Daian

What a nice little gem of a game, it's a pity that this sort of games fly under the radar because all the focus is on AAA titles that we've played over and over again. 

skinnyd69
skinnyd69

I'm interested to know what Gamespot's excuse is for NOT MENTIONING THE MULTI-PLAYER HAS BEEN BROKEN SINCE LAUNCH. It's hard to trust the legitimacy of a review when  it ignores something as important as the entire multiplayer feature being so buggy that you can't play longer than 10 minutes without either a crash or a character freezing and having to rejoin. What gives, Gamespot?

tasosk7
tasosk7

@hfgfhd admit it ,your first hack n slash rpg game ever played was Diablo....3 ,right?

22Leo
22Leo

@nicholaiwolf Thanks for the recommendation.  I checked out Path of Exile and was immediately impressed.  I just got it and I must say it looks incredible.  So well written, great voice acting, music, graphics, etc., and the skill system is awesome.  I am very happy I came to this review of Van Helsing and took the time to read some comments.  I had no idea this game existed.

wanderjahr
wanderjahr

@AzatiS I LOVE this game. It reminds me of what The Witcher could be like if it were turned into an ARPG. Not to mention the interesting tower defense aspects of it...

garfield
garfield

@jansdman +1 for motioning voice and music! 

CoRiNi
CoRiNi

@BlackPhoenixBG  You can "assign" two skills (four if counted for both melee and ranged) but you can use too many skills, however if you are smart you would adapt to a specific tactic that requires specific set of skills.

outlawst
outlawst

@vannacut you should set your desktop resolution to 1080 and the game runs at the same res.

jansdman
jansdman

@edinko i agree with you about action rpg or other games being dumb down in controls for the sake of console port. You got a good example which is DS3 which is almost unplayable with K&M but works well with gamepad. Another is D3 yep this game is dumb down because it had console in mind the minute it was created although they deny it. Not hating on console but hate it when it affects my PC game because of console mechanic!!!

hXcShock
hXcShock

@edinko Or maybe.. just maybe.. that's how the developers envisioned the game being played? Forcing you to switch skill sets for different tactics? Everyone on the internet thinks they have everything figured out when really they're just waving their junk at traffic.

LtReviews
LtReviews

@edinko  

You obviously have no idea what you are talking about....

If you can't mod the game to change this, stop insinuating the development cycle purposely made something due to a future console release.


KodiakCS
KodiakCS

@Daian Yeah, and while DIII got the big company bonus, this one got the small studio deduction...

AzatiS
AzatiS

@skinnyd69  

I agree .... They did exactly the same thing with Diablo 3.... Diablo 3 as single player was nice .. .but multiplayer was ..tragedy.

LtReviews
LtReviews

@skinnyd69  

They had no problem giving Diablo III an 8.5, even though it also had broken multiplayer.

The only difference is here you aren't FORCED into the broken multiplayer, and you can at least avoid it.

So hard to see why they would turn around and raise their standards for a budget game.

trollkind
trollkind

@Valacan @nicholaiwolf Look beyond those words, I know there are a lot of really bad free to play titles out there but PoE have the right mindset behind it. Just think of it as a "pay what you want" title and the always online aspect is more like Diablo 2's Battle Net. A lot of PoE is like Diablo 2, if you liked that title you should defenitely give PoE a chance and don't give up in the first hours. It's no title that throws itself at you, demanding you understand and like everything from the getgo but it's worth getting to know it better.

There are a few features of PoE I don't want to be without in any other ARPGs and it baffles me how so many innovations werde made in a single title.

edinko
edinko

@jansdman @edinko its all about the buttons or better lack of buttons. Only Nintendo learned. PS4 and Xbone will be dumbed down as well. PS4 maybe less cause it has at least he touchpad but the multiplatform games will take the lowest common denominator route which is the old school xbone pad without any innovation what so ever doomed to bad controls as in last gen for more complex games that require lots of inputs and precision

edinko
edinko

@hXcShock @edinko Well maybe! but IMHO its highly unprobable. Seeing so many games compromised in this way.Do you really think that all the games that are dumbed down to be playable with the limited buttons on a pad are as you said "how the devs envisioned the game"? Oh come on. Be realistic

edinko
edinko

@LtReviews @edinko I know completely what I am talking about. In this genre a great example was DUngeon siege 3. Crippled to 6 skills because they had only 3 buttons and 1 trigger free on the pad

edinko
edinko

@LtReviews @edinko Well I didn't say it as a fact. I said "it sounds like". Lets be honest when a game that traditionally has lot of skills and uses a lot of buttons has just a few - tt certainly at least look so that it is designed around the pretty bad limitations of a controller. I use a 360 pad a lot so I know that it is completely unsuited for games that need a lot of buttons.

LtReviews
LtReviews

@edinko @LtReviews  

You're assuming they've done this out of some sort of necessity. Like the developers behind this game were too inept to make two different control schemes for each game. 

 Have you considered balance? Such as having to choose a limited amount of skills that each best compliment a certain weapon?

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing More Info

  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is set in a gothic-noir universe resembling a fantastical 19th-century Europe.
    7.9
    Average User RatingOut of 292 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing
    Developed by:
    NeocoreGames
    Published by:
    NeocoreGames
    Genres:
    Role-Playing, Action