The final chapter of the Van Helsing Saga by Neocore Games is finally here. I am glad to have played the two early iterations of the saga (and also to review them) and I definitely had high expectations in regard to this one. Neocore Games promised great fanfare with The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III and I was hoping they would deliver, for the sake of giving the franchise a nice finishing touch. I grew fond of Van Helsing and Lady Katarina and I wanted to remember them in a good light.
The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III is an action-RPG like its two prequels. It was developed and published by Neocore Games, a Hungarian game developer. What more can I say about them that you already don’t know if you have been following my series of reviews? They seem pretty cool guys, and other than Van Helsing III’s two prequels they have also developed the King Arthur series, The King’s Crusade and a tower defense game called Deathtrap. And here is a video of them dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song called “Happy”.
The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III
Like in the previous game, the story picks up right where the last game’s ending left it. The civil war is over in Borgovia but there is no time to settle down. A powerful ally has betrayed Van Helsing and the denizens of Borgovia and he has as well tampered with the dimensional portals known as “The Ink”. Monsters and demons have taken advantage over this and are pouring all over Borgovia and other places causing chaos. Also, a mysterious cult has appeared prophesying the end-days. As the de-facto leader of the Resistance, Van Helsing will have to deal with this problem the way he knows best: Taking arms and slaughtering monsters. His ghostly companion, Lady Katarina is up to the challenge as well and this time we’ll finally get to know her back-story.
The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III offers six new classes to begin with. He can be a mêlée specialist playing as The Protector, master the art of sharpshooting as The Bounty Hunter, command weird science as The Phlogistoneer, become a tactical master as The Constructor, control magical forces as The Elementalist or be converted into a stealthy assassin as The Umbralist. Every character class is stoutly different from the others, both in the terms of character design, playability and customization. Neocore Games shines once more in these departments, making every gameplay singular and unique. One feature I greatly missed is the ability to import your character from the previous game but I understand that the starting classes differ very much from the starting classes in previous games and that greatly compromised the ability to implement such feature.
Combat in Van Helsing III remains archetypal action-RPG fighting and it is as electrifying as ever. There still is an excess of skills that players can mix and match in any way they can possibly think of. You can specialize in one or two skills or you can diversify and equip many. The difficulty of the game and the toughness of the enemies entice players to experiment with various settings. The customization levels are big enough so you can set your own play style and combat strategies. Perks, auras, skills and talent points are still a treat for you action-RPG fans and also the surplus of items you will find laying around. Luckily enough, for inexperienced players, it’s possible to reset skills and ability points and even perks so a bad decision never sticks with you forever. Items can be customized through the use of runes, essences, enchanting, renaming, etc. Katarina is nearly as customizable as Van Helsing, so keep a close eye on her level-ups and the items that she can use.
Tower defense mini-game is back once more, there are also some remote missions where Van Helsing can send minions to advance certain parts of the story, send his pet chimera to hunt and collect loot, and collect certain “story items” for the various NPCs in the Borgovian underground lair to toy with. All of this remains entirely optional, so you can play them if you want to make your experience with Van Helsing superior or you can ignore them and rush to the game’s ending.
The first two games looked incredible and really defined the visual outline of the franchise. The third one looks unbelievably high-quality too. You can definitely expect more of the gothic-noire, steam-punk extravaganza world Neocore Games worked a lot to create. The grim and dark villages and forests, underground lairs, derelict factories remain visually astonishing and extremely detailed. The different classes for Van Helsing, Lady Katarina, the various NPCs, the monsters and demons that serve as enemies definitely look amazing too. The same feature where we can explore levels vertically introduced in Van Helsing II remains in this edition. The GUI, maps, inventory visuals look simpler and less cluttered than in previous editions as well.
Most graphic bugs or glitches that were present in the previous editions of Van Helsing have been neatly polished. Even in the preview build that I managed to play before the game was launched there were some nasty visual bugs that Neocore Games worked around the clock to remove. The FPS count remains rock solid. However, the game is far from perfect and some minor visual bugs or glitches persist that I am certain that will be solved in the near future as more game patches are developed. I haven’t been able to try the multiplayer mode as I finish this review but I will try it and upgrade this review accordingly to keep you up to date. There is a four player co-op mode and a four vs. four eight player pvp mode.
The voice acting was one of the highest points during the prequels and it is also great during this final chapter. Van Helsing and Katarina remain sharper and smarter than ever, and there is also a bunch of fourth wall-breaking and pop culture jokes. For example, right at the start of the game there is an NPC called “The Daywalker” that looks conspicuously a lot like Wesley Snipes as he appeared on the “Blade” films based on the Marvel Comics character. Regrettably, not all voice actors share the same quality as those playing Van Helsing and Katarina and that makes a dent on the overall quality of the audio department.
To sum up, I had a really satisfying time playing The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III as I had it playing Van Helsing I and Van Helsing II. It definitely is mesmerizing to see a saga of games reach a satisfactory conclusion rather than expanding indefinitely with products of questionable quality as other successful franchises do. Van Helsing III is the effective ending of a compelling story with a great playability to go with it that doesn’t disappoint fans of the franchise or the genre in general. At fifteen dollars apiece, it remains a great bargain for all the content that comes with it. If you liked the first two entries, definitely buy it. If you’re a fan of action-RPGs, give it a try along with its two prequels. Neocore Games presents a very interesting take on action-RPGs. Join Van Helsing on his fight against evil for a final time.