Game Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

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Release date: 2013
Version played: Xbox One in 2016

Set in an alternate history 19th century, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is an action/adventure/role-playing game where you’ll take the role of the infamous Abraham Van Helsing…’s son. With the aide of Lady Katerina, an eastern-European ghost in service to your family, players will journey to the country of Borgovia to help the locals with a beast infestation. The game plays near identically to Diablo III‘s Demon Hunter, and uses the same isometric perspective, as well as ‘light walls’ between areas.

This was another of the Games with Gold offerings, from December 2015. Much like recently reviewed Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, I had forgotten I even downloaded this.

+ the game is not horrid looking, and enemies explode in some ludicrous giblets when killed with explosive rounds or fireballs. The various armour and weapons all match onto Van Helsing’s model nicely
+ the various anachronistic jokes, or references to other media (such as Super Mario Bros. or Lord of the Rings)

– the game is near identical to the Demon Hunter class of Diablo III… except with guns rather than bows. I think it is clear where the inspiration for this game came from, in almost every aspect
– the level design is often unnecessarily difficult to find your way around; often times I was able to move through the gap between almost-touching trees, but could not pass through a small bush on the ground. This led to many instances where I was corner-locked and swiftly destroyed
– the absurdly low level cap makes experimenting with different skills almost un-viable, as various weak skills are useless compared to a few strong ones (thankfully, there is a way to re-spec your points, but this comes at a hefty gold cost)
– the game is incredibly monotonous, with the idea seemingly being ‘hundreds of enemies on screen are always exciting’, which often times cannot be further from the truth
– compared to the above point, there are only ever either far too many enemies to handle effectively, where death is the only option… or not enough to worry about, where you’ll just hold the attack button as your attacks heal you faster than they hurt you. It’s really not enticing stuff
– the plot is stock standard RPG stuff (“help us take down the evil dude”) and never gets any more exciting
– the loading screens were unforgivably long. Especially when traveling between two close areas such as hubs

> funnily enough, I don’t think I killed, nor even fought, a single vampire

Should you play this game: Absolutely not. No matter what skills I acquired, or enemies I tore to shreds, all I ever wanted was to replay Diablo III. There is very little about this game which makes me want to suggest you even try it for yourself.

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