Preview: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 3 Returns to the Familiar Setting of Borgovia
Neocore Games has adopted a fairly simple formula for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, an isometric tale that puts players in the monster slaying shoes of the son of legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing.
Following the release of the first game in 2013, and the second a year later, Neocore Games has enforced its belief that if something isn’t broken, there’s no need of fixing it. The series has so far kept to its core basics, with very little attempts by the developer to leave its comfort zone to try switch some aspects around.
That is what I came to experience, yet again, when I played The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 3 over the weekend. The ‘Preview Build’ lasted around seventy minutes, and during that time I saw the final tale in the trilogy carry forward pretty much everything from its predecessors. I could easily have been playing an earlier release.
That, though, is not necessarily something that fans of the series should be disappointed to know. Even now, I don’t find myself tiring of exploring the fictional region of Borgovia, with its brew of gothic fantasy, magic, mad science, and steampunk setting.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing have timidly improved on presentation with each game, and I’m certain that to be the case with the third game as well. Players should be asking themselves whether they are thrilled to be revisiting Borgovia once again. If so, I can guarantee the same satisfying experience that I’ve had with the past two games. You can expect great entertainment value, but not something incredible.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 3 takes place in Borgovia immediately after the conclusion of the civil war in the second game. Players mustn’t be worried if they haven’t played the first two games. Neocore did well in bringing everyone up to speed on the story in Van Helsing II, and it is the same with the third game. The opening segments will efficiently chalk out past events and the troubles that are currently brewing.
A fantastic addition to the game, which I really loved to see, is its playable classes. Unlike the first two games, the third installment gives players the option of choosing out of six playable classes. These replace the Hunter, the Thaumaturge and the Arcane Mechanic, but have in some way evolved from the original three classes.
The Preview Build only allowed me to play as either the melee-specialist Protector or the magic-wielding Elementalist. The final build will, however, also feature the ranged Bounty Hunter, the Phlogistoneer and his weird science, the inventive engineer dubbed as the Constructor, and the dark stealthy killer Umbralist.
The Elementalist easily took my attention over the Protector. The class looked more fun, with plenty of AOE spells, and abilities that can work both defensively and offensively. Each activated spell had pretty and unique visuals that made me smile whenever I saw enemies clumped together inside a raging river of fire.
I loved the fact that the game totally disregards your chosen difficulty level when it comes to monster camps. Even when you’re breezing through on the lowest levels, you’ll come across regular camps that might look similar, but will easily overwhelm you. This is the same case when raising the difficulty bar, and keeps players on their toes.
The Skill and Auras Trees have been cleaned up. One of the bitter aspects in gameplay before was that even though players were offered a relatively long Skill Tree to scale through, players usually found it more convenient to stick to just a couple of starting abilities. With Van Helsing 3, there are fewer skills to unlock, but which have been carefully designed to cater to one aspect of gameplay for each class.
The stages look to be rehashed from the same editor, with mostly the same assets. In the beginning I frowned upon working my way through a stage very similar to those I’ve played in the first game. But that was until I realized I was revisiting the lair of Professor Fulmigati to put an end to science experiments that are still being conducted in secret.
The secret lair is the same as it has been in the past two games. The marshaling of troops from the second installment has returned and you’ll be once again able to train, equip, and send recruits for missions.
The sassy Lady Katarina has not forgotten to exchange banters on cue. You’ll even see most of the enemies returning from previous games, but be ready for surprises – as I was when I went to battle against a giant festering toad.
Overall, I believe that fans of the series will have enough stamina left from the last two games to play through the concluding installment. Likewise, newcomers will be equally entertained. There, though, will be some who might decide against diving into the same pond that they have been swimming in for the past two games.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing 3 is scheduled for a release on May 22 for the PC. The game will not feature any Early Access, and from playing the Preview Build, I can say that the game looked technically fine (apart from a slight screen tearing incident during the opening scene).