The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is one of those games that makes me feel like I’m in a bad relationship; the kind where your head says, “Fool, forget her,” and your heart says, “Don’t let go. Hold on to the end.” Yes, that is a Grease reference there. Deal with it.

This action/RPG experience casts the player in the role of the famous Dr. Abraham Van Helsing’s (the destroyer of Dracula) son. It’s your task to traverse this steampunk version of 19th century Eastern Europe, find your father and rid the fictional land of Borgovia of a mad scientist who is just fucking things up for everybody in general.



The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing does so many things I don’t, or shouldn’t, like yet I kept coming back to it. I was having fun…until my computer threw a Windows inspired hissy fit, the game crashed when I was two-thirds of the way through and I lost my save file (about 15 hours of progress). It seems that Fate, that cruel, cruel mistress, did not want Van Helsing and I to be together for all of eternity. Such is life.

First and foremost on “The Things I Shouldn’t Like” list is that The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is a shameless Diablo clone (i.e. the playfield is seen from a 3D, isometric, top down view and the gameplay entails pointing-and-clicking at things until they explode in a bloody flash and drop all kinds of goodies which you then rush to collect like the greedy fucker you are).  Now, I’ve played Diablo clones in the past that I’ve truly enjoyed: Torchlight 1 and 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, just to name a few. But, with Van Helsing, it just feels more shameless somehow. Playing it felt, to me, like those early Sunday morning “strolls” though my college campus after a Saturday night filled with debauchery and naughty young ladies who I had no intention of bringing home to Mother. Yes, that is a Rick James reference. Deal with that one too.

Collect that loot...

Collect that loot and upgrade those stats…

Secondly, there is almost zero strategy to the combat. The monsters literally rush at you in droves the instant they see you. It’s fucking insane. It gets to the point where you barely even know what the hell is happening and you can’t even see your poor, overwhelmed character there is so much outrageous activity happening on-screen. I’ve never seen another game do this to the extent that Van Helsing does…and it happens almost right out of the gate as well. There’s very little hand holding here; your index finger and mouse are going to get a good workout playing this game, know that now. But, to its credit, you do get quite a visceral rush when a battle is done, you are victorious and there are piles of beastly corpses (and treasure…don’t forget the treasure!) at your feet.

Thirdly, the presentation is lacking in comparison to the games Van Helsing attempts to emulate, the Diablos and the Torchlights of the world.  I know this is an indie game developed by a relatively small team in Hungary, Neocore Games, but if you aspire to dance in the ring with the big boys, you have to measure up against them, ultimately. And while Van Helsing isn’t awful to look at by any means, it just lacks that “next level” of polish that those other games definitely have. I should also mention here that the voice acting is all over the place; some performances are spot on while others are quite amateurish. And, for some reason which I couldn’t seem to shake, the actor who voices the main character sounded a good deal like Maurice Moss from the IT Crowd to me…and if you know anything about Moss, you know he’s certainly not a badass monster hunter.

"I was BORN to slay monsters, Roy!"

“I was BORN to slay monsters, Roy!”

Taking all that into account, I still kept coming back to play Van Helsing and would have beaten it if my save file wasn’t corrupted. It is a fun and addictive game to play, with tons of loot to collect and some cool magic and combat customization options. I know I said “almost zero strategy to the combat” above and I stick by that because once the creatures start coming at you thick and fast, all those custom options you set up will go right out the window and you’ll be screaming, “Fuck it, it’s hack and slash time, bitches!” On top of that, I’m just a sucker for humorous, B-grade-horror-shlock when it comes to a story and Van Helsing’s narrative is certainly that.

There is also an option to play The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing online with a few friends, which I didn’t get to try because, as I mentioned, my save file fell down and went BOOM and I lost the character I spent 15 hours building up. That being said, I could definitely see this game being a blast to play online with some likeminded pals, as long as there were no technical or latency issues to speak of.

Mad skills to pay those bills...

Mad skills to pay those bills…

Since this review is peppered with a few musical references and I began it with one, I think it’s only fitting that I wrap it up with another one. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing reminds me of the heartbreakingly pensive love songs that Prince used to write back in the day (Nothing Compares 2 U, Why U Wanna Treat Me So Bad, Automatic, et al.), difficult to get through at times but when they are over, you can’t help but go back and listen to them again and again and again because, well, they just hurt so damn good.

And it’s for that reason that The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is INDIE GAMER GUY APPROVED. This isn’t a resounding approval like Gunpoint was, but this is a game that I definitely had a good time playing and others should too. If Neocore gets around to making a sequel at some point and addresses the issues I mention above they could have a truly great franchise on their hands.


The-Incredible-Adventures-of-Van-Helsing-box-artThe Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing was developed by Neocore Games.

For $14.99, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing will let you point-and-click the holy shit out of some polygonal, gothic monsters. Good      times!

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is available on Steamigg 2

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is Indie Gamer Guy Approved, but it just squeaks on to the Leaderboard and will probably be point-and-clicked right off at some point down the line.

Follow the Indie Gamer Guy on Twitter.

%d bloggers like this: