The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Preview

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Independent
Developer:Neocore Games
Release Date:2013-05-22
Genre:
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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When you kill enemies in the game, you use your skills, which (other than the basic melee and ranged attacks) cost mana.  Each skill also includes some powerups, which require you to spend rage to use.  You gain rage as you fight things.  As an example, the Explosive Shot skill has three powerups: Shrapnel (to increase the blast radius), High Explosive (to increase the damage), and Hex Round (to steal back some mana).  The more rage you spend on a powerup, the better it works (up to 3X), but interestingly, some passive bonuses give you better damage if you're at full rage, and so you have to decide if you should use your powerups or not.

You can also earn perks to improve your character.  As you kill bosses and mini-bosses, you earn reputation points (another nod to Torchlight), which eventually lead to you increasing your reputation level, and each time you gain a reputation level, you get to pick a new perk.  Perks provide you with useful passive bonuses, but the ones you have available depend upon how you've been playing the game.  For example, if you loot enough equipment from the enemies you kill, then you gain access to the Scavenger perk, which gives you an extra inventory bag.  And if you do enough elemental damage, then you gain access to the Elementalist perk, which increases your magic damage and resistance.  During my time with the game, I saw 15 different perks, and I was able to choose three of them.

Of course, with Van Helsing being an action RPG, you also find a variety of equipment to help you in your pursuit of killing monsters.  Your character can wear 12 different items, including three pieces of jewelry, two weapons (one ranged and one melee), a cloak, five kinds of armor, and a trophy.  Meanwhile, Katarina can only wear jewelry, weapons, and body armor.  Your equipment and Katarina's equipment are exactly the same, and the game makes it easy to see if the new items you find are upgrades for either character.  The equipment comes in (I think) four tiers of rarity, with the rarest items being the most powerful.  I saw three of the tiers while I was playing (white, blue, and yellow), and I also saw some unique items (orange), but I didn't see any set items.

Along with just finding equipment, the game gives you a few ways to manipulate it.  One armorer has a forge, and if you place three items of the same quality on it, then you get back an item of slightly better quality (so three blues might give you a better blue, or maybe a yellow).  You can also add essences to certain items, with essences working about the same as gems and sockets in other games.  Finally, the interface indicates that you'll eventually be able to do some gambling, but I didn't see any options for it in the starter town.

So far I'd say that The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing looks pretty good.  I liked the theme of the game, with fighting evil creatures in dark caves and forests, and I also enjoyed the rapport between Van Helsing and Katarina, who have amusing conversations with each other.  I didn't see much of the main storyline (you receive a plea for help from somebody in Borgova, but I was still on my way there when the preview build ended), and so your ultimate goal in the game is still a mystery, but I'm optimistic that it will be fun and surprising based on the writing samples I've seen so far.  Look for Van Helsing to be released at the end of this month.