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  1. #1
    IncGamers Member Nightfish's Avatar
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    OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    Okay, a few days ago I noticed there was another ARPG at the gates and it launched yesterday. I've played it for a few hours so far and it's looking pretty good. Good enough that I felt I might want to point out it's existence here. Before I launch into the review part of this post, let me point out one fact: The game is less than 15€ on steam. This does enter my considerations, but I'm of the opinion that a cheap turd is still a turd. And this is not a turd. I do not yet know how long the game takes to finish, but I already know that I will get my money's worth.

    So, without further ado, let's take a look at: "The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing" (Which is a slightly silly name, I shall henceforth refer to thee as "Van Helsing". Also I am too lazy to type the full name).


    Visuals
    This is the first thing that piqued my interest in the game. It probably comes as no big surprise to anyone that I am usually the first guy to be like "I don't give a rat's behind about graphics". Which isn't quite true, what I am actually trying to say is that you're not going to impress me with Crysis <number here> graphics. What I care about in graphics is a coherent style, well crafted worlds and animations. And that doesn't mean silly ragdoll physics or motion capturing. I still like D2's graphics, and that has nothing to do with nostalgia tinted glasses. They are just plain good.

    And Van Helsing get's that right. The world looks great. There are interesting things scattered around, character design steers well clear of the "uncanny valley", which is a problem I've encountered more and more in recent years. Less is more sometimes.

    So far spell effects aren't obstructing my view either, which is always a plus. Torchlight and Path of Exile get this wrong (personal opinion).


    Character Development
    At first glance it might seem that there is not much to it, as there are no classes here, just one Van Helsing and that's pretty much it. But at second glance, I find that I don't mind, because there are several ways you can develop your guy.

    Attributes
    Van Helsing comes with 4 Attributes that you can put points to at level up.

    Body - Max HP, Defense, Melee Oomph
    Dexterity - Ranged Damage, Dodge
    Willpower - Spell Damage, Max Mana
    Luck - Gold Find, Magic Find, Critical Damage, Dodge


    Skills
    Van Helsing has three skill trees that he can put points into at level up as well, different pool than the attribute points.

    Mystic Warrior - Melee & Spells (seem to be mostly close range)
    Occult Hunter - Range & Spells (seem to be mostly longer range spells, am not using this, though)
    Tricks and Auras - see below

    The abilities of the first two trees also have little additions to them that you can purchase. Cleave's range can be increased, for example. Each ability also has 3 powerups that you can activate during combat to enhance or alter the skill.

    Tricks and Auras actually needs a little more explaining. This is (obviously) two things in one. You can have two tricks and two auras equipped at the same time. Tricks are hotkeys to (a) and (s) by default, but this can be changed, auras are always active but you can pick which two you like. Tricks as well as auras can also be improved by skill points. You need to find someone to teach you these things, though, once you know a trick you can put points into it as you please, but the initial ability has to be picked up at a trainer. Tricks might include things like an AOE heal spell or an ability to freeze time for a few seconds. Nifty stuff.


    Perks
    Then there is perks. Perks are purchased with Fame points, similar to the fame thing in torchlight. You kill stuff and eventually you get another rank of fame and another perk point. Some perks are available from the start while others seem to unlock as I go. For example, the "Bully" perk became available when I developed my Body attribute to a certain point. Which was kinda funny.


    Companion
    Van Helsing also comes with a companion, the Lady Katarina. She's a Ghost. She can do things similar to the pets in torchlight, except you can configure her behavior a little better. You can tell her to automatically pick up items as you go and she also gets her own little skill tree and levels up on her own XP. Her abilities are passive and usually provide some boon to van helsing or herself. She can be switched between a melee, ranged or passive form (provides additional buffs).



    Combat
    The combat in this game is actually more involved than one might think. Aside from HP and Mana, Van Helsing also introduces a third resource called "Rage". This builds as you smack things and can be used to power your skills. Each skill has 3 possible power ups and each of these can be charged up to 3 times with a total of 3 charges spent per skill. So I might increase Cleave's damage 3 times or I might increase damage 2 times and use 1 charge to steal 5% of the damage in HP. You can also use presets here to save your favorite powerup and skill combos. Or you could use the time freeze ability I mentioned earlier to set things up at your own pace.

    All in all combat is pretty fun. You can hotkey multiple abilities (some reviews got this wrong. rtfm, people) and you can use "tab" to switch between two sets of abilties as well.

    Basically this has a nice feel of "easy to learn, hard to master" which is exactly what I want. I've started on the second hardest difficulty and I've already gotten my *** handed to me a few times, but not in a manner that felt unfair.


    Humor
    Yes, I made a category called humor. Van Helsing and Katarina have a lot of funny banter going on between them. I did not expect this from an ARPG, especially not at this price point, but there you have it. The voice acting is pretty good as well, I've seen worse in AAA titles. Well, not that I can see voice acting, but you know what I mean.


    The loot, the loot, the loot is on fire!
    I really like how you can improve MF via attributes here. Considering how disappointing I found loot to be in torchlight and path of exile, I really like it here. In addition to your standard fare in terms of rarity, items can also have a capacity for "essence" which is essentially open sockets, but on a more fluid scale. Let's say my Sword has 17 essence points, that means I can put two thingies of +10% MF into it (5 essence points each) and one thingy of ouch! for another 7 essence points for a total of 17. Or I could put 3 x +10% MF and have 2 essence left over.

    Rare items drop at a decent rate, the way I spread my stat points around to get some MF going and they are interesting enough to be useful. I find myself swapping items around way more often than I did in PoE or TL2 because things that drop actually improve what I have.


    to be continued...

    I'd keep going but I actually am itching to get back in the game now. Later guys!

  2. #2
    IncGamers Member
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    Thanks for the heads up, I will be sure to give this a try!

  3. #3
    IncGamers Site Pal Kitteh's Avatar
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    I think you may have got my nose twitching too!

  4. #4
    IncGamers Member nulio's Avatar
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    I had to use all my strength to not buy it. 10% discount, 9eur... and it looks great. But I can't start another ARPG...

  5. #5
    IncGamers Member
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    Have been playing this since release yesterday, really fun game. I did take the plunge and start on Heroic, which has had it's moments. I'm not sure it'll have huge replayability as you can respec for gold.

  6. #6
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    Hey Nightfish,

    this looks cool. Is it worth getting?

  7. #7
    IncGamers Member Grisu's Avatar
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    It looks cool! But...let me see...2-4 years of tournament characters left, PoE, D3 and TL2 installed on my PC...must...resist...urge...to buy another ARPG!

    But thanks for the heads up!

  8. #8
    IncGamers Member Nightfish's Avatar
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    Well, I like this much better than PoE or TL2 (or D3, which I didn't even get). It's kinda like "Would I rather spend 2 hours watching a great movie, or would I rather spend 40 hours looking at a blank wall?" Of course I get a lot more looking-at-something time from the wall, but am I as entertained? Probably not.

    So far I've put 6 hours into Van Helsing and was way more into it than I was in PoE or TL2. With those two I was always waiting for the moment when "it gets good". I didn't feel like that with Van Helsing. It was good right off the bat. Literally the first 3 minutes were already entertaining because of the banter between VH and Katarina. Loot was interesting within the first 10 minutes as well. With torchlight 2 I was still waiting for loot to kick in around level 50 and had long since given up on any interesting story or character moments. Okay, that's not true, I always knew TL2 wouldn't have anything like that. And you might say that's not something to expect in an ARPG, except: It is. If I don't care about your world, why should I bother saving it?

    Yes, I don't doubt that this has less replay value than D2. But honestly, I'd rather have something that's good to play 2-3 times, or even just once, than something that is bland to play in 20 different variations. Pretty much all the games I liked this year have low replayability. Take my favorite game of this year so far: The Walking Dead. I am not sure I'll play this again anytime soon but I'm still thinking about it and all in all I got my money's worth 10 times over at least. On the other hand I have bland franchise game #348 which I just kept playing for hours, waiting for it to get good, which it never did.

    I guess what I'm saying is that my library needs more titles like this one and less titles like Skyrim. Which starts out boring, then is boring some more and has a boring finale. Probably followed by a boring epiloge but I wouldn't know as I fell asleep somewhere along the way.

  9. #9
    IncGamers Member
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    Nightfish, have you played the Prince of Persia series?
    Solid gameplay and storyline, not exactly item based but there is some weapon and skill customization and of course a whole lot of platforming and puzzle elements ( combat is only secondary to these ). All four of them are big favourites of mine.

  10. #10
    IncGamers Member Nightfish's Avatar
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    Re: OT: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

    I've played this prince of persia.

    Spoiler


    Never tried the others, mostly because I am not a fan of 3D platforming AT ALL. See any number of zero punctuations reviews as to why.

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