The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III preview – Still a better love story than Twilight

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When you say the name Van Helsing I automatically conjure up an image of an academic with a mild case of the suspicions. White jacket. Blood samples. The works. And these suspicions ultimately lead to a rather horrible discovery that Vampires exist and OH NO DON’T EAT ME ALIVE. Ding dong, the academic is dead. Let’s face it. Our professors in our universities do not strike me as the monster fighting sort. In the 21st Century if I need a monster killed I’m thinking Sam and Dean. Maybe even Constantine (if he isn’t still cancelled).

Not Abraham Van Helsing and certainly not that weird not-Wolverine film where Van Helsing was also a man and an angel and… what now? But Van Helsing comes from the 1890s when part-time professors have meaningful off-the-book duties. Like killing a particular Dracula and passing along the mantle to an heir (and only son). Monster hunting, it seems, is in the Van Helsing bloodline. And that’s all we really need to give us a hero worth rooting for. Even though in the book Van Helsing Snr. (sorry – it’s getting confusing – why can’t we just give this dude his own name) is convinced his only son is dead.

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The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III is the third ARPG in the Van Helsing series by NeocoreGames, where you once again return to Borgovia as Van Helsing (the aforementioned son and heir to Abraham Van Helsing made famous in Bram Stoker’s Dracula) to ride the region of well…pretty much whatever comes out of the cooking pot. The game takes no time in throwing you back into your secret lair (a returning feature) and you quickly begin fighting off the legions of enemies that seem to come straight out of a seven year olds nightmare. You quickly realise that Van Helsing is about the truly mad sciences. Forget everything you think you know about monsters. It is just straight forward and ludicrous mad science monster bashing from here on out.

But what really makes the monster bashing fun is the dialog. Both between Van Helsing and Lady Katarina (returning once more to add her particular flavour of… insight… to your every single move and decision) as well as all the other carefully crafted NPC’s that litter the game. Quests are outlandish and the dialog there will leave you grinning from ear to ear. What makes this game stand out is the story. It might not always make much in the way of sense, but it’s fun – and that is what the Van Helsing games have always been about. You really feel like you’re immersed in an awkward science experiment gone wrong throughout. Returning players will be right at home here and new players will be in for a bit of a treat.

The NPC dialog keeps going amidst your travels

Some notable features returning are the secret lair with all its trimmings. Enchanting items, alchemy, and traders are all here to service you with the arms you’ll need to break the back of evil. You also have a prison (to store at least one bad guy from what I’ve seen so far) with a rather peculiar gaoler who delights in torturing his wards with… unconventional methods. In one instance, he extracted information from an enemy by gently caressing a blackboard with his fingernails! You can also send your upgradeable elite soldier squads on missions out in the world to bring you back items, XP, recipes and anything else you can think of.

Every hero needs a dungeon for… errr… rigorous affirmation of his or her morality

The class roster has been expanded, but the beta only let me play two classes: The Protector (Tank Melee class) and the Elementalist (a Mage of sorts). The other four classes unavailable are the Bounty Hunter (the same class from the original game), the Constructor, the Phlogistoneer (a heavy hunter class armoured in an awesome mechanical exoskeleton), and the Umbralist (this looks similar to a classical rogue-like/stealth class). You can see some videos about these new classes from the developer here. For those of you returning to Van Helsing 3, you can still import your character from the previous games.

I played only a few of the stages that were made available for beta preview and the level design is as quirky as ever. Expect secrets, traps, and all the usual shenanigans you’ve come to expect. Instead of perma-potion buying runs back to your lair, you now have a Diablo-3-esque bottomless potion with what I thought was a fairly long cool down. I often spent time trying to keep my distance until the potion was available to use again. This once again ties in to the balance of the fighting, a problem I’ve had since the first title. At times you feel like you’re able to fight enemies easily, but one or two mobs later you’re suddenly swarmed and feel very underpowered. And dead. Resurrection only costs a bit of gold, but this can be really frustrating if you’re a squishy class that gets nuked down too quickly. It’s also not always easily apparent how stats tie together with item choices and the like. Expect to spend a fair bit of time on figuring this out if you’re new to the series.

The Protector Skill tree is pretty interesting. I can whirlwind with both a sword and shield Yes please.

The Protector plays like your classic Crusader/Barbarian crossover. With a shield and a sword you do very well against single targets but AoE attacks are not your strongest point unless you start putting points into this early. You have an effective dash/charge type skill that combos nicely with a whirlwind skill that can nuke mobs quickly. While taking too much damage, you can go into a block mode that can see you blocking a ton of the incoming damage. The Elementalist is very much your mage, dropping spells to do as much damage as possible. I often felt, however, that I was playing a rogue archer with the amount of running away I was doing. There aren’t many skills that looked like they’d hold enemies in place very well – but I’m sure those will come further down the skill trees.

The Elementalist in action.. It’s pretty much fire, lightning, death with this one.

If you’re returning for the final bite of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing trilogy, you’re going to feel right at home. Based on the few hours I had with the title, it seems to keep the tone that kept you engaged time and time before. If you’re new, you’re going to love the wit, the banter, and the general pace of the story. I just don’t know if you’re going to have the same replayability that you see in a title like Diablo 3, though, something I felt that they needed to work on from the first title already.

Other than that, my time with it was honestly a barrel of laughs. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously. It just wants you to have a rollercoaster of a time and take a few laughs home to the bank. If it is your first time, or you’re a returning fan, this final trip to Borgovia is certainly going to have you cackling in mad glee. Just try not to make another Frankenstein.

Last Updated: May 13, 2015

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