Some of you may recall our own David Soo Chan previously reviewed “The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III” in-depth, and brought up many of the same concerns I had when playing the recent re-release of all three games. You can check out his review right HERE. But does “Final Cut”, a compilation of all three games, fare any better than the sum of its parts?
I started up a gunslinging Bounty Hunter on the hardest difficulty, because I’m just badass, and I figured the bonus XP gain would help me grind faster. Unfortunately for me, the game seems to actively discourage grinding, with monsters not respawning for an absurdly long time, if at all. Perhaps it’s just me, but hack-and-slash games are one of the few instances I somewhat enjoy grinding for XP and rare gear.
It was part way into the second episode, which I arrived at frighteningly quickly, considering each episode was originally sold it’s own separate game, that I realized Van Helsing really just didn’t have anything new to offer me. The writing, which I initially liked, quickly devolved into predictable one-liners, and the story was difficult to follow.
Interestingly, Van Helsing also lacks the procedurally generated maps, which have become a staple of the genre, making replayability a little lacking, especially when each area is so short to begin with. There are several “scenario levels” if the story mode wasn’t enough for you, though it’s largely more of the same.
“At it’s core, it’s technically sound, but the handful of interesting mechanics are lost in a sea of terrible ones, and does an injustice to the titular vampire-hunting doctor.”
The loot system was uninteresting; with most item enchantments being useless to my chosen character class and skill build. Perhaps with more multiplayer companions, this would make sharing loot more advantageous, but even then, the only real item stats I found useful were weapon DPS and defense on clothing. You’ll be upgrading gear in favor of those stats so often that enchanting things yourself is also pretty pointless, at least until super late in the game.
Van Helsing: Final Cut also does away with different potions and tonics, an interesting choice given the history of the character. Instead you’ll find a single health potion button, complete with cooldown. While I can see what the developers were going for, if they were intent on streamlining combat, why bother having a potion at all, when you already have regenerating health outside of combat?
I can’t speak for all the classes, but I can tell you my experience; the Bounty Hunter is largely focused on ranged combat, which, when paired with Van Helsing’s faithful companion Lady Katarina tanking for me, seemed like it’d be an interesting change of pace from how I usually play. Disappointingly, Katerina’s skill tree seemed more interesting than my own; with skills custom-suited to a wide breadth of different play styles. Meanwhile, I was often stuck choosing between Generic Passive Upgrade A and Generic Debuff Ability 1. More interesting skills certainly existed, but were all pretty far down on the tree, and were still a far cry from the devastating crowd-control spells or awesome ability synergies of Diablo II.
In fact, even by dumping all my stat points into gunnery and DPS skills, and all of Katerina’s stat points into survivability, damage, and attack speed, it still took a ridiculous time to kill the monsters the game expected me to kill, and it wouldn’t allow me the luxury to grind until I’m the appropriate strength. Boss fights were a particular annoyance, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to fall 20 or 30 times before the end. And yes, this was even after I lowered the difficulty back down to “normal”.
Thankfully, the game allows, or, more appropriately “forces”, you to respawn in the boss fight at no cost to you, your progress or your stats, which just baffles me to no end, and makes bosses nothing more than a waste of time. Perhaps if I had a readily available source of income and XP, I could test out different skill builds and re-spec if needed; however that was not the case.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut is a game I really wanted to like, but ultimately just made me wish I was playing Diablo or Torchlight instead. At it’s core, it’s technically sound, but the handful of interesting mechanics are lost in a sea of terrible ones, and does an injustice to the titular vampire-hunting doctor.
***Reviewed on PC with a code provided by the developer***
- Eye-catching graphics
- Lady Katarina is awesome
- You get to wear a fancy hat
- Small maps
- No respawning enemies
- Tries to fix what isn’t broken in genre
- Short & lacking in replayability