More of the same is not a bad thing.
I was thoroughly surprised when I first booted up The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. It had the loot, the action, the skill trees and the atmosphere that really drew me in. Since this was a planned trilogy from the beginning, Neocore was able to churn out Van Helsing II within a year’s time. Let’s just say, after playing the first game, I was excited to hear I wouldn’t have to wait very long to dive back into the world of Borgovia.
Obviously taking place after the events of the first game, Van Helsing and with his spectral assistant, Lady Katarina, begin their story in this sequel holding off the armies of the evil General Harker. Commanding and assisting the resistance, Van Helsing must find a way to defeat Harker and his army by any means necessary, and those means are shown to him through a mysterious psychic known as Prisoner Seven.
Price I’d pay: $15
Multiplayer: 4 (co-op) 8 (PvP)
Length: 10-12 hours
Much doesn’t deviate from the first game. It still plays like an action RPG much like Torchlight or Diablo. There are tons and tons of loot to collect and equip, numerous spells and abilities to level up and learn and multiple quests to take on. It is a dungeon crawler fan’s dream.
Leveling up is serious business.
Along with finding better equipment, there is a robust advancement mechanic in upgrading weapons and armor, as well as buffing stats and skills through leveling and skill points. Players can add essences found as loot to weapons and armor for better stats, or create new ones by breaking them down and combining them together for even better upgrades. This can be as complex or as simple as the player wants it to be, but for hardcore RPG players like myself, it was stat tracking heaven.
The levels vary in ways that can offer up new paths to take, and some side quests that the player can even miss if they’re not paying attention. The amount of content in just the story and the quests is rather impressive.
With a DLC update to the first game, there were two new classes added. These come right out of the box in Van Helsing II. They are completely different feeling and offer up varied game play styles with different equipment and skills to use.
Van Helsing and Katarina = Riggs and Murtaugh.
The voice acting and character interactions are very well done, and the story itself is very compelling. The banter between Van Helsing and Katarina is very funny at times and offers up come nice comedy breaks between all the monster slaying. It feels almost like a buddy cop movie at times. It works and kept me invested.
There are a few extra things to take on in Van Helsing II. There are optional tower defense missions where players set up traps to slow down and damage waves of enemies. Of course, if I wanted to just hack and slash them myself, I could most certainly do that as well. There is also a rather extensive management system built around the resistance and their lieutenants. Van Helsing can order them and a group of men to take on jobs that can offer up rewards, and the player is tasked with choosing who to send and how to train the soldiers. It’s a nice little distraction.
Players looking for some co-op action can find it here in the form of 4 player online co-op. There is also an 8 player PvP mode, but much like the first game, I find it far too hectic and confusing when skills and attacks start flying everywhere, but it is there for players wanting to test their skills against others.
There are a few technical hiccups here and there that took me out of the experience a few times. Dialog would cut off during cut scenes and some graphical hang ups would throw me off as well. While the game does run well, I found some significant screen tearing in some instances, but these were secondary to the amount of fun I was having.
The first game was also known for being rather unforgiving in some areas, and the sequel is no different. The difficulty, even on the normal setting, can be brutal in spots. It’s not as bad as the first game, but I still died numerous times while on normal, and that’s the second lowest difficulty available.
For all intents and purposes, Van Helsing II is more of the same. It just so happens that “same” is really, really good. Action RPG players should not pass this game up, and dungeon crawling fans looking for a satisfying loot and stat game need look no further. There is a ton of things to do and see in Van Helsing II, and I for one enjoyed pretty most of it, even if I had to die a few times to get to it. Once again, I highly suggest this series and this game.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.