By Arik Yates / June 20th, 2014
|Title||The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II|
|Release Date||May 22, 2014|
|Age Rating||ESRB: M|
I blame Baulder’s Gate: Dark Alliance for my ARPG addiction. Never had I experienced a game quite like it back in 2001 when it was released. The isometric view, classic fantasy setting, and the randomly-generated loot captivated my youthful mind. The PC was filled with titles in this genre, but, since I didn’t have a solid machine at the time, I wasn’t able to ever be introduced to ARPGs. Thankfully, Dark Alliance and many other titles in the genre came about for consoles to fill the empty space for consoles. I eventually bought a pretty nice PC, and was finally able to indulge in all of the ARPGs I had been missing out on. Despite the many hours I’ve spent in this genre, I STILL cannot get enough of ‘em, and I’m constantly on the lookout for new ones gracing the vast, video game marketplace.
One of the newest additions to the genre is Neocore Games’ The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing series. While sporting the tried and true loot-filled tropes of the usual ARPG adventure, the developers gave it a twist by placing you in the shoes of legendary monster/vampire hunter Van Helsing in a steampunk 19th century Europe. Van Helsing’s first incredible adventure was released last year on the Steam marketplace. Due to the praise and overall great sales of the title, a sequel was put into the works. So, with my love of ARPGs and the first game, I was jumping for joy upon the announcement. Now that the aptly-named The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II has been bestowed upon us, how does it hold up with its much-loved predecessor?
Van Helsing’s second adventure takes place directly after the events of the first game. Something has happened to Van Helsing’s secret lair, causing him and his ghost companion, Lady Katarina, to be in quite the situation. When they finally grasp what exactly has happened, they’re greeted by a masked being who calls himself Prisoner Seven. While he is suspicious of the ghastly-looking Prisoner Seven, Van Helsing can’t help but trust him in his time of need. Once you escape from the lair, you come to find out that the villainous General Harker has launched a full-scale attack directed towards your lair and the resistance you built in the previous game. This continuity from the first game is one of my favorite things about the game. It’s not several months later or a pseudo-sequel that just depicts another wild adventure; it’s a legitimate sequel that allows you to experience everything that Van Helsing goes through at this moment in his life. This is a trend that more developers need to start following; Neocore Games created the epitome of a true sequel.
The rest of story takes you around the mainland of Borgovia, as well as the dark dream-like world of the Ink on an adventure to destroy the evil military power of General Harker. It takes a bit for the game to get jump started due to the excruciatingly long and slightly annoying opening, but, when it does, the immense detail and hard work put into the world and character chemistry greatly makes up for it. Heck, as soon as the opening came to its demise, I was absolutely hooked.
Now, if you haven’t played the first game, do not fret. Van Helsing’s second adventure fills you in with all of the main events that happened in the first title. However, like in other series, it is always best to experience the predecessor to get the full effect of all the differences and story elements found in its sequels. But, regardless of whether you’ve played the first, Neocore Games is kind enough to get you up to pace if you’re new to the series. And for that, I commend them!
For the returning fans of the game, one of the biggest things you’ll notice is the graphics have changed pretty drastically. The menus, HUD and even the models and level design have improved. The color scheme of the menus looks cleaner and is less jarring; instead of the weathered wood color, they’re a greyish aged parchment. It’s a tiny change, but I found it way more appealing that way. The HUD is also arranged to better suit the frantic gameplay and isn’t as obtrusive. Your selected skills, health, mana and such are a bit slimmer and look more refined. One of the changes I wasn’t a big fan of was of Van Helsing’s appearance. Well, his facial appearance, at least. The model is great, but his scarf is no longer always around his face like it was in the first game. This change removed the mysticism and mystery behind him; the scarf was a part of his character. It didn’t put a real damper on my experience, it’s just minor a gripe that I got over fairly quickly. Anyway, the improvements to the graphics are a nice touch. The high shaders further enhance the aesthetics, pushing the graphics to a slightly better quality than the first game, and the lighting effects have gotten a better treatment, as well. It’s nothing too major, but it’s just enough to improve the overall look.
The sound design during Van Helsing’s second adventure is also marvelous. The classic Sherlock Holmes-ish music makes an astounding return with even more tunes I found myself whistling to. Combat noises and ambiance are also implemented well, including a few throwback noises thrown in there. For instance, some of the combat groans and impact noises sound vaguely familiar to the games of yesterday, and I found it just delightful and had me chuckling at times.
The controls and gameplay featured in The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II have never felt better. Van Helsing still controls well using the satisfying mouse and keyboard combo, but I found that he would sometimes keep attacking when I would try to flee by clicking in the opposite direction. This slight problem would only tend to happen in frantic moments, when the frame rate would drop due to the sheer amount of enemy forces on screen.
Pages: 1 2Neocore GamesPCSteamThe Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II