By Phil Schipper / July 3rd, 2015
|Title||The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III|
|Release Date||May 28th, 2015|
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing trilogy has taken a big place in the hack-and-slash world in a relatively short time, with its three core games and the Deathtrap spinoff all coming out in the span of just over two years. With The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III, Neocore Games is finally bringing this journey to a close. How will this ending stack up to the rest of the series?
In the last installment, the titular son of the original Van Helsing had to call in a favor from a shady ally called Prisoner Seven–who is now free and taking his own turn at conquering the world. In order to stop this, you’ll have to investigate your way from the outskirts of your hideout, through the land of the dead and all the way to the depths of the Ink, where creation itself was born.
The first thing returning players will notice is the new class system. The three general classes from the previous titles have been replaced with six all-new ones. This allows you to choose the flavor of your character–versed in ancient arts, genius with machines or just plain good at fighting–as well as different battle tactics like ranged or magical attacks, or even special traps. Because it’s primarily a solo game, the class system isn’t concerned with traditional healing or support types, and your combat options are much more interesting for it.
Once your character is created, you can continue customizing by setting your stat and skill points. The stats are pretty simple, to the point that I ended up spending all of my points on one thing (sort of disappointing), but the skills add a little more interest. Each class has a decent handful of active skills that you can set to your hotbar and use, including your normal attack, as well as aura skills that give you passive bonuses. You can use your skill points to level up each skill, or you can set them to the skill masteries that add specific benefits to the skill.
The other option for your skill points is to add powerups to your active skills. A powerup adds a lot to that skill when you use it, at the cost of points from your character’s Rage meter. You can simply press a button to ready all your powerups, and then the next skill you use will include the ones available for it. This certainly adds a new dimension of strategy for advanced players, but I found that in the heat of fast-paced combat, the extra step gets in the way. Plus, several things in the game offer you bonuses while you have maximum Rage, so after a little while I avoided powerups entirely.
Like its predecessors, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III features a Diablo-like system of loot with random features. It’s easy to spend as much time sorting through all the equipment–both for Van Helsing and his ghostly guide, Katarina–as you do in combat. The precise additions to your stats, resistances, damage and more, along with the ability to enchant equipment or add a certain amount of magical essence to it for further boosts, ensures this.
Battle itself is, as always, a visceral and bloody experience. Whatever your weapon of choice, you’ll employ it against hordes of vampires, zombies, and, most of all, original grotesque creations from the minds of Neocore. They look great out there, and the loading screens are full of design sketches for the monsters with notes by the evil mastermind that brought them into the world. If you’ve played the first two games, you can expect this game to look just as good. The epic music, sound and voice acting is also top-notch, with the familiar European accents that make Borgovia a believable place.
That’s not to say it’s without problems. I normally don’t bring up bugs as a negative point in a review, but I thought this was sort of a special case. Late in the game, I encountered one that prevented me from completing a side quest. When I searched for the solution, I discovered that for many players, this same bug extended to the main quest in the same place–meaning that for those unlucky ones, it’s impossible to complete. I lucked out, but that’s pretty serious in my book. It worries me further to see no update for it in the month that this game has been out.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III is also a bit shorter than one might expect, at about 20 hours for the main quest and the level cap reduced to 30. While there are special perks and other unlockables that you can use to continue your growth after that, it still feels like this game has taken a hit overall. The signs suggest that Neocore expects the player to counteract this by trying it with other character classes, but once you’re really powerful, why go back?
Overall, this third installment in the series is nearly the game that the first two were, but not quite. Its flaws are few, but major enough to disappoint a lot of players. If the developers do step up and get rid of that nasty bug, it will be a great game–but I might wait until then if I were you. Otherwise, grab it on Steam for $14.99 USD.
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
Action RPGhack and slashNeocore GamesPCthe incredible adventures of van helsing iiivan helsing iii