I’ve kept tabs on this hack-and-slash ARPG Van Helsing ever since it was announced, and even participated in closed beta. You can read my preview about it and my write-up of its additional feature content The Hunter’s Lair, so it’s extremely redundant to repeat in this review what I wrote earlier. This is the first time I’ve written about a single game more than twice, so you can tell where my uncurbed enthusiasm is heading.
Now that the game is out and I ceremoniously finished it, allow me to be a straight shooter and condense/disseminate its good and bad points.
- Visually stunning with very engaging music. These are the game’s greatest strengths.
- Loot management is good, plenty of space to store them.
- Plenty of achievements to satisfy cheevo whores.
- There’s incentive to play higher difficulty levels: drop rates on good items go higher along with difficulty.
- Humor is well-written and NPC interaction is golden, especially between Van Helsing and Lady Katarina. It balances the dark, gloomy ambience.
- You can reuse your items with all your characters, since your stash is shared.
- You can play it OFFLINE, and offline characters can be played online. Biggest plus in my book.
- Multiplayer is a lot of fun, despite all character apperances being shoe-horned into 1 character model.
- Game is too short.
- Lots of bugs, but at least the developers quash them fast when reported.
- The Hunter’s Lair is fun but half-assed. It needs to be expounded on as a gameplay mode, not just a simple scene/mission.
- Story needs more immersion and could use more side-quests.
- Crafting is limited to just creating new jewels from limited combinations.
- Killed enemies stay dead. They don’t respawn even if you restart, so farming is basically impossible.
- Gameplay doesn’t offer anything new. It’s your basic point-and-click. Appreciate it, or don’t.
- Voice acting is superb, especially Van Helsing and Lady Katarina, but some characters need work. Personal taste.
- Skill trees need more variety, instead of just general skills with slight modifications of melee/projectile versions.
- Easy respec-ing of builds and stats don’t make your choices permanent. It could be good for casuals, but not for hardcore gamers.
- Since you can’t farm, item selling prices are high. You may end up with too much money to spend, or no money to buy stuff.
So my final thought on this game… BUY IT. It is worth more than its $15 price tag, not to mention that at the time of this article’s writing it’s gonna have FREE DLC soon. This is the game that patches the injurious butthurt that was inflicted upon me by Diablo 3. This game’s balance is already fine-tuned, no need for all that BS “hotfixes” (aka nerfs). Neocore Games must have learned a thing from Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2’s highlights & screw-ups, as Van Helsing is an ARPG done right. No wonder it received good scores on Metacritic. All this game needs left is a PSN port.
I will definitely be insta-buying the Xbox 360 version the first day it comes out sometime this year. Neocore Games deserves my money, and they definitely deserve yours.