NeocoreGames is a production company working on The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II, an action role-playing game. Developers behind titles such as King Arthur and the first Van Helsing ARPG are trying to design the sequel that will have new maps and features.
Set in a world that resembles 19th century Europe, the story follows a young son of the famous monster hunter, who has to deal with enemies once again to save people of Borgovia from the mad scientist. The gothic-noir setting of Borgovia is packed with magic and weird science, where one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other. It’s not easy to be a son of your legendary dad. His enemies still remember the grief your father gave them and they will have no problem pointing that out. Your time has come to prove that you live up to old man’s expectation and finish the hunt he started.
The game menu has various options to adjust gameplay in a way you want. Audio and video settings, controls and all other needed for a good gaming experience. Starting simple, you are asked to choose between 6 playable character classes, and if you are feeling tough you can enable the “Hardcore Character” mode to experience the real meaning of death. Each class has its strengths and weaknesses, though choosing the one that best suits your play style is always a good idea. Your companion, Lady Katarina, is set by default and she is rather sarcastic ghost that was rescued by your father.
At the beginning you find yourself in Factory District, which has to be defended from monsters. I must say, there is plenty of them and each type varies in difficulty. From Eliminators to Behemots, none of enemies was too hard to kill. Although it might be because in Beta you start at level 30, with handy equipment. The hardest part of combat is that monsters come in packs and you will often encounter several types marching towards you at the same time. At times, it was more challenging to get to the location highlighted on map to complete the active task, then to actually defeat enemies. With an ability to respawn at the exact same place where you got killed, and giving you few seconds of invisibility after coming back to life, defeating enemies seemed too easy. Good news is that, unlike the first instalment, in Van Helsing II enemies do respawn and you can just run around the map to kill them over and over again. Some good loot drops from dead enemies.
Gameplay consists mainly of running around and finding the place marked on the map, with tons of fighting and an occasional dialogue. Conversations offer choices and your decision will shape the progress. For instance, you can choose whether to command defensive actions, or to let someone else do the job. Sure, it is always tempting to do everything by yourself and true RPG fans will certainly choose that path. The game has all core RPG mechanics including equipment, skills-tree, quests and ability points. It is not set in an open world and that is refreshing these days. Instead, Van Helsing II game has a set of maps that will unlock as you progress. Loot is scarce, or maybe I am just used to modern RPG games being packed with various loot on almost every inch of a map. Speaking of loot, items in the inventory could have been designed better. The whole look of my inventory just felt like I stepped in some old game.
Maps and monsters alike are designed in a good way, with focus on details and unique features of each race. Although the art-style looks like those we have seen in ARPG titles more than 5 years ago. It’s a fictional world based on Bram Stoker’s novel and the noir look is there for a reason. The atmosphere is dark, monsters are ugly and sometimes futuristic, and there is a lot of blood. You can turn blood effects off in the menu, but then it won’t be the same effect. Mad scientist rules with violence and that feeling is there throughout the Beta. Sound effects and soundtrack just add to the dark setting of Van Helsing. Lady Katarina and her wits were a nice surprise, the ghost that understand sarcasm was the best NPC in a game.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II is a good action role-playing games that sometimes feels like a tower-defence and lacks in few elements such as an improved item’s design. Hack’n’slash combat tactic plays good and fans of ARPG will surely find a reason to play the second title in a series. The game is still in development so I hope some aspects will be enhanced before the final version.