Preview: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing
In the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, prior to what you may think, you are not embarking on a journey as the famous vampire hunter. Instead you are Van Helsing’s son, travelling with his ghost companion Katarina. Apparently vampires from Borgova are in deep trouble and have sent a letter requesting Professor Van Helsing’s help, but since he doesn’t take cases anymore it’s up to his son and Katarina to save the town. All goes smoothly on their travels to Borgova, well as smoothly as a monster hunter’s travels can go, until the duo is almost to Borgova. A rock slide damages their carriage and then the bridge to Borgova is destroyed with explosives. With no alternative they go out into the woods to seek another town.
Game play for Van Helsing goes like this: You move around the world by clicking with your mouse, instead of the WASD configuration of other games. You have two attacks that you can control at a time, generally either melee/ranged and a spell. Clicking either left or right click (depending on how you have your attacks set up) on an enemy will activate these attacks. There is a quick button that will allow you to switch between melee and ranged as well as a button that will allow you to switch between different setups of your melee and ranged. For example you can have two different melee setups, which could be a sword and one type of spell or two types of spells, and other combinations as you gain more abilities. Speaking of abilities, you are able to power these up with different buffs that use a resource called rage that fills up every time you attack an enemy. Pressing space will activate all buffs for your abilities, or you can individually select which ones you want to have activated. Abilities and their buffs can be leveled up with skill points that you earn each level.
Aside from Van Helsing, you also have Katarina aiding you in battles. She has her own inventory and armor/weapons slots and can either attack or give you a passive ability depending on her form. She can also pick up items, and when you return to town sell excess items that you don’t want and return with necessary health and mana potions. Despite being a ghost though, Katarina can “die”…sort of. She goes into a sort of recovery state where she does nothing, not even give you passive abilities until she returns to her normal form. She also levels like Van Helsing, but with less ability points and a smaller skill tree to deal with.
Aside from the dynamic duo, you have the gruesome monsters around Borgova. You begin fighting off lowly criminals but quickly upgrade to wolves and even werewolves! There are other nasties waiting in later areas as well, the twisted machinations of mad scientists. Speaking of monsters, there sure are a lot of them. I found myself generally fighting through almost ten enemies at a time in certain points of the game. This can be difficult, but it’s doable if you have the right setup, or ran around a lot replenishing your health with healing magic like I did.
Van Helsing pre-orders have started this week. The PC version will come out this summer and the XBLA version is set to come out later this year. Check out more info about the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing at Neocore Games’ blog.