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July 28th, 2013, 16:28
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

Hack & Slash with a couple new/unusual approaches. As much as I enjoyed it, will pick up the next one, it just doesn't offer anywhere near the content of TL 2.

A couple of missions function like a Tower Defense game. Enemy is trying to invade your hideout, usually from multiple points simultaneously. Goal is to stop them from getting in obviously by kill them yourself, or the use of traps. After the first mission like this, the attack pattern was pretty clear and it was very easy to shuffle traps around for future invasions to prevent all but 1 monster from getting through.

Every attack skill has 3 possible addons. These addons modify the skill, kind of like D3. These addons can be stacked in any combination of 3 you wish, 3A or 1A + 1B + 1C for example, and will proc the addon's special effects when you spend Rage.

Much like TL 2, you have a pet that can buy/sell gear for you. Unlike TL 2, she actually levels up and you get to spend points on attributes & skills. I definitely noticed a difference in my melee combat effectiveness without her buffs. Also, in TL 2 reputation level ups resulted in an extra skillpoint, in Van Helsing, it results in a perk. You only get 10 (I think) through the entire game with a total of 38 (not all available at once, have to be unlocked) to pick from. For the most part, I felt these were well done. Some clearly targeted for ranged, other for melee, and some with universal usefulness.

Really liked their approach to the major boss fights. The boss for Chapter 1 for example, could be "face tanked" or you could run around and utilize the environment to speed things up a bit.

I also enjoyed the story and banter quite a bit; I did LoL on a couple occasions. There's a fair amount of side quests too but, outside the tower defense stuff, nothing stood out as new.

As said, as much as I enjoyed it, TL 2 just offers more content. You only have 2 skill trees & passives + a buff/utility ability tab filled from buying them from teachers (as opposed to 3 & passives in TL 2), Ranged and Melee. You're limited to 2 active skills and a combination of 2 buffs/utility skills. When you compare this to other games in the genre, it's very limiting. The 2 skill trees also amount to only a handful of classes/builds. Each tree can do physical or magic damage with a couple AoE skills in both. Again, other games in the genre offer much more variety.

I also noticed a slight issue with ranged balance. Most games like this melee has a problem, have to be in range to take damage to deal it and have to close with ranged opponents. In Van Helsing, it seemed like ranged lacked damage/survivability in comparison to melee builds. Entirely possible it was operator error, I make a good tank and a horrible kiter, but it stood out to me here where it normally doesn't.

Mobs do not respawn, ever. The game is hand crafted so you'll never seriously out level content but, if you get stuck or want/need better gear, you won't have many options.

And finally, the game isn't very long. Took me slight north of 10 hours to finish without skipped side quests. At release, there was no endgame at all. You killed the final boss, you're done. They have since recycled 3 (or 4) maps for level 30+ monsters (30 is level cap). They offer absolutely nothing new or different besides enemies that out level you though. There's no NG+ or random affix Maps.

TL;DR Good game for fans of genre if the above isn't a deal breaker. I will buy the next one they roll out, but it simply doesn't compare to TL 2 in terms of content/variety.
Last edited by greywolf00; July 28th, 2013 at 17:00. Reason: Punctuation!
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