If you enjoyed Diablo, Grim Dawn or Path of Exile, then this game is for you. Don’t be discouraged by the reviews on steam, as they aren’t glowing bright. But then, when are they? In all honesty, Van Helsing does have it’s quirks but it’s a large game with plenty of content to enjoy. If you can find it on sale for a few bucks – it has enough content to be more than worth it for a fan of the genre.
Van Helsing was originally released as three separate chapters. But, there’s now a “final cut” edition which is basically all three chapters merged into one game. Convenient, no? It might still be better and likely cheaper to just get the chapters separately, because you can import your character progress into the later chapters. There are not many games nowadays that have such a feature.
Van Helsing has all the features of a great Diablo-like, a.k.a. an isometric hack and slash. Six character classes to choose from, tons of weapons and armor to find, hordes of monsters to defeat. It’s pretty cliché in a way but it’s even got the red health and blue mana bars. Everything should feel fairly familiar to a fan, no tutorial needed.
You’re a gun shooting, sword wielding half-blood human-vampire hybrid. You’ve probably heard as much of the Van Helsing story, seen the movies, or checked the Netflix series. And you can forget all of those as none of them are canon in any way other than the bare essence.
Right as you start, the atmosphere is dark and gritty – in a good way. You’ll be walking through dungeons and muddy streets in no time. Later in the game things turn to green multi dimensional floating space platform weird. No worries, the main of the game is still forests, caves and cities.
At some point you should unlock your hideout – and you will have your storage, NPCs and all the classic town-perks that you’ll have seen in most diablo like games.
The classes are weird at first glance, but translate fairly well to other games once you take a deeper look. There’s the warrior, ranger and mage but just with different names and quirks. And then there’s at least 2 more artificer style classes which focus on technology rather than the classic weaponry.
If you’ve never played an isometric hack and slash before – this might not be the best one to start with.
Originally, starting Van Helsing chapter 2 without a chapter 1 save would quickly put you in a difficult position. Monster and item scaling was rather lopsided, and resorting to ranged weapons was generally the way to go unless you enjoyed getting swarmed and killed.
Leveling is a bit slower than you may be used to – so it’s a good idea to take your time and kill everything. Re-running some earlier areas for XP will help you both with gear and levels. It “is” a difficult game, just keep in mind it’s very doable if you don’t rush through everything.
The Diablo franchise eventually chose to add synergies and strip it’s trees down to a bare minimum. Games like Path of Exile, Grim Dawn and Van Helsing however, went full crazy and added as many choices as they could. Not for the faint of heart – if you enjoy cookie cutter builds you may want to spend some time researching the best path to take.
And it’s not even just “your” skill tree you need to worry about.
Solo or cooperative
One of the more common complaints about the game is the lacking and dysfunctional cooperative gameplay mode. Which is a shame, but in the end somewhat meaningless if you enjoy playing solo. As always you have your lovely banshee Katarina to complement you, so you’re never alone.
Luckily she even comes with her very own skill tree and equipment slots. You can have her outfitted as a full melee murder banshee, or long range support caster. Whatever you need and best suits your gameplay style. She also has many snarky voice lines in a haughty noblewoman’s accent, which a big and enjoyable plus.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: The Final Cut (Yes that’s quite a long title) – was released on: 6 Nov, 2015
Minimum system requirements: Windows XP SP3, Dual Core CPU 2 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Geforce 8800, Radeon HD 4000 and at least 512 MB VRam, DirectX 9, 40 GB Available Disk Space.
There’s also an optional high res DLC package available for free if you have a powerful enough PC, and at least 20 GB extra disk space available. I can highly recommend getting this if your PC is up to the task.