Preview: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

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Hungarian Developer, Neocore Games, gives us much to be excited about with their new action-RPG The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing.  The point-and-click Diablo-style gameplay, known for its dark and mysterious settings, is the perfect haunting ground for an epic battle between the legendary vampire hunter and his nefarious foes.  We were extremely lucky to get some detailed looks at what Neocore has been up to so hang some garlic, grab a stake and let’s get to it!

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“Take a walk in our gothic-noir metropolis! The town of Borgova – the capital of Borgovia, the fictional kingdom at the very edge of the known continent – is almost a character in itself. It’s essentially a gothic Eastern European city that never existed, warped by the anachronistic modernity that weird science has brought to this world.”

Legendary Bloodline

Just a little background on the title character and setting — this is not your typical take on Van Helsing.  While the setting very much resembles 19th century Europe, Neocore has stated that their game takes place in a different universe.  The main character, Van Helsing, is also not the legend that we know him to be, but rather his son.  Walking in his father’s monster hunting shoes, you will take control of Van Helsing, who is joined by Lady Katrina, a female apparition.  The game lets you control Van Helsing while Lady Katrina is somewhat of a pet, in loose terms.  You will control her skill points, equip her with effective weapons and also have the ability to load up her inventory and send her off to town to sell it for you.  She is a really powerful ally, as well as the source of entertainment when she parries Van Helsing with her quick wit.  You’ll get a chance to use razor sharp weaponry, steampunk ranged rifles, pistols and sniper rifles, and dabble in the arcane arts to thwart the many monsters that will cross your path.

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Monster Hunter’s Toolkit

I have to say that beyond the impressive gameplay, the most stunning parts of the game are the character skills and customization.  Van Helsing can equip a ranged weapon and a melee weapon—starting off with dual pistols and a sword.  As you progress, you will not only find varieties of these weapon types to equip yourself, but also open up a plethora of skillset options.  There is an incredibly diverse amount of customization to be found in both the ranged and melee skill trees, with arcane powered attacks and stat buffs to be had.  If that isn’t enough, there is also a ‘tricks and auras’ section to upgrade that features non-weapons related skills like stat buffs and healing spells.  All in all, there are a ton of ways to spec and respec your version of Van Helsing, and that’s not even touching what you can do with Lady Katrina and her customization.

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The combat itself is smooth and frantic — smoothly controlled and frantic as you are overwhelmed by the game’s various mobs.  Van Helsing can keep two weapon sets, so you can quickly switch from guns to melee on the fly.  Right and left mouse clicks will start out as similar attacks, depending on the weapons equipped, but you will quickly be able to replace one or both of those with newer attacks from your skill tree.  For example, the left-click can remain your default sword attack while your right-click may be mapped to be a sword attack imbued with lightning.  Obviously, you’d want to keep one of those buttons as the default melee attack to preserve mana, but you get the idea.  With all of the combat tactics you can employ, learning to retreat and heal is one you must master early on.  I have noticed that the game is not as wickedly difficult as it was before the more recent patches, but it still provides a fair challenge.

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In addition to all of the usual action-RPG features and neat twists that Neocore is throwing in, you will have the ability to customize your own lair.  Sadly there hasn’t been much information on this topic, but just the thought is intriguing.  The script is fantastic, with both the writing and the game engine being handled in-house by Neocore.  There will be various side-quests and consequences to your decisions and actions throughout.   In addition, there will be item crafting to master and up to four player co-op in the final game.  From what I’ve seen hinted at on the forums, the campaign will take around 7-10 hours to complete.

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My Life…My Job…My Curse…Is To Vanquish Evil

My time with the preview build has been nothing short of stunning.  It’s fantastic to see all of these elements blend together so fantastically in a 119th century European setting smattered with magic and steampunk features.  I really think the concept just sells itself, and Neocore’s attention to detail is the icing on the cake.  Needless to say, we at EDG are very excited to see how the final build looks when it hits Steam and digital distribution on May 22nd, 2013.  You can head on over to Neocore and buy the game directly from them for $15.00 (with tiered bonus packs available) or simply purchase directly through the Steam Store.  Either way, this summer will be filled with things that go bump in the night, so stock up on holy water and garlic!  I’ll meet you in the guilds online, vampire hunter!

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