In early 2013 there was a new entrant to the Action Role Playing Game genre. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing promised a mix of monsters, steampunk, magic and weird science all rolled up into one game. Despite a few flaws it delivered an impressive and fun game that won a place in aRPG player’s libraries and hearts. Over the next few years it was followed with two planned sequels and now they are combined in a Final Cut with tweaks, better graphics and a range of new end game missions.
We reviewed the first Van Helsing when we were Dual Ring and stayed in touch with the sequels but my co-worker Lily wrote the reviews so the Final Cut was filled with new gaming for me. I’ve spent a very few minutes playing Diablo in the past, but it’s not a genre I’ve ever dived into in detail.
Let me pause my review for a moment and say that if you already own the first three Van Helsing games you’re in for a pleasant surprise – the Final Cut is available to you free at the Neocore games website. Go get it now. For everyone else read on.
So what is the game like? It’s a classic ARPG with all the pleasures and loot-hunting that brings. Van Helsing is a versatile hunter and with character stats and skill points to spend each new level, and you can sculpt your character to fit a play style. He can be a swordmaster with brutal efficiency in melee range or an occult hunter with a rifle or dual pistols lethal at maximum range or one of several other choices. I’ve gravitated towards an Elementalist caster as I always seem to. Accompanying you is Lady Katarina, the ghostly companion that complements both melee and ranged Van Helsing as she has three main behavioural aspects: ranged damage, mêlée damage or passive protector.
Katarina also comes with her own ability points, small gear set, skill set and my personal favourite, behaviour set. The last allows the player to set her Appearance (melee, range or ghost each has a different look), her behaviour (four options to set who she prioritizes on attack), Item collecting (a list of items she can pick up for you automatically, including gold, gear and potions) and when she goes off shopping to sell unwanted loot, she can be sent with a set health and mana potion shopping list.
The combat system is simple to begin with – mouse click to fire off one of two abilities but quickly becomes more complex with three slots for extra abilities and a system of combos that can be triggered when you build up enough rage in combat. Final Cut introduces them gently for newcomers or lets you dive straight in if you know what you’re doing.
Price:£29.99 – Currently discounted to £23
About Developer: Neocore Games
Neocore Games is a small indie company founded in 2005 and based in Eastern Europe. Their first game was the RTS Crusaders and they’ve also made a tower defense game Deathtrap, but they’re probably best known for Van Helsing. They have announced their next project is to be a Warhammer 40,000 game called Inquisitor – Martyr planned for 2016.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
For someone like me who has never delved into aRPGs, I found the Final Cut easy to use. The dialogue is text-based with a voice over (and for fast readers there is the option to click-through at your own pace) and the text is easy to read in a clear font against a high contrast bordered background. There is no particular reliance on memory and no complicated control scheme, plot or a ton of quests to track.
The RPG elements that are easily overwhelming has been very well implemented with both a basic and advanced tutorial to walk players through (both can be turned off by experienced players). It is a complicated genre with ability points, skill points, loot with stats, players with stats, mana bars, rage bars, potions, skills, experience, currency, crafting and as such does need a basic understanding of how each system works and how they combine to create the game.
Final Cut is accessible and does not require particularly fast reactions when played on easier modes. Some precision with the mouse cursor is required for targeting (there is no target or aim assist), but I managed to play for quite some time on normal difficulty without aiming significantly just swirling over the mob of enemies that surrounded me with Katarina finishing off the stragglers that bounced around too much for me to target.
It is a game that can easily be played with one hand only as long as your mouse has a few extra buttons, space bar is vital in particular. The user interface is clickable to open windows and the menu as needed. It can be paused at anytime to take a break and as a classic ARPG, it can be played for five minutes or five hours with equal enjoyment.
The controls employed are easy to use and all keys are remappable. It is mostly single key presses with the option to hold the mouse buttons to keep attacking or moving. Final Cut can be played with a keyboard and mouse, a mouse only or now with an xbox controller.
Environment & People
As far as we know, no environmental principles were employed during the creation and distribution process by anyone involved in the project.
If you are already a dedicated aRPG player or often shop in sales the chances are that you’ll already have The Van Helsing Trilogy or at least a portion of it. If so Final Cut is a great deal as it’s free if you own all three games already. Neocore have chosen to do this via their website which does add a layer of complexity but means that if you got some of the games on GOG instead of steam that you can still qualify.
If you are new to Van Helsing the game is around 50 hours of gameplay just to get through it. At the normal price of £30 that’s a good deal and the chances are that it will be discounted or on sale in the near future.
Players: Single Player and Multiplayer
Full controller support
Language: English (interface and full audio), French, Italian, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese (Interface and subtitles), Czech and Russian (Interface)
PEGI /ESRB rating: 16
Platform: PC (Windows/Steam),
OS: Windows XP SP3, Windows 7, Windows 8
Processor: Dual Core CPU 2.0 GHz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce 8800, Radeon HD4000, Intel HD4000 (min. 512 MB VRAM)
DirectX: Version 9.0
Hard Drive: 40 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
OS: Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8 (64 bit), Windows 10
Processor: Quad Core CPU 2.5 GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce 560 or Radeon HD5800
DirectX: Version 11
The Final Cut version has much enhanced graphic over the previous versions but they are available as a second DLC download on steam which has to be added manually in game here. Online co-op also requires a Free Neocore account.
The Van Helsing Trilogy may not be the best known aRPG but it’s very fun and playable and has a distinct personality all of its own. The Final Cut takes the Trilogy and DLCs that have come out over the last few years and puts them together as a complete and polished game.
This is aimed at two groups – Dedicated aRPGers and gamers new to aRPGs If you are a dedicated aRPG player the chances are that you’ve already played at least one and probably all of the Van Helsing Trilogy. If so go out and get the Final Cut and revisit it for free – the tweaks, enhanced graphics and extra content make it very worth playing.
If you’re a gamer new to the genre Final Cut is a great place to start with enough content and and playability to get you into it and hook you properly. I’ve been finding myself playing this week as much as I can possibly find time for and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. Recommended.
Product: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut | Developer: Neocore Games Platform: PC (Windows/Linux), | Genre: aRPG | Language: English and multiple others | Players: 1 Co-op 1-4| Version: Europe | Release Date: 6 November 2015 |Content Rating: PEGI 16
The review is based on The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut kindly provided by Neocore Games. First published on 12 November 2015