How do we begin a Van Helsing game review? Over the last 2½ years this 3-part franchise has had more discussion…both positive and negative…than most in its genre. Now we’re back for round four; the final round. (Re)introducing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut. While the title currently sells on Steam for $45 (USD), owners of the original Van Helsing trilogy can have Final Cut free of charge. Without going too deep into franchise history, I’ll just say that the first game in the series rated a score of 7/10 from me. The second episode was somewhat improved…an 8/10. However the third installment seemed a regression from its former fine formula, earning a 6/10.
So what does developer NeocoreGames have for us this time? A great product, I must say. At it’s core, Final Cut is a compilation of the original three-game series. Extra content, of course has been added, and old features have been revamped and polished. For example, the characters’ skill trees have been reorganized for easier viewing and point assignment. Characters themselves can now grow to Level 100; a 66% increase over earlier titles!
The actual game-play remains largely familiar. Van Helsing titles fall into the action-RPG (ARPG) genre. Basic tenets involve taking your character out into a dangerous realm, filled with virtually nonstop combat. The world itself is presented in top-down ¾-view, and a simple mouse click tells your character where to go. Inventory and skill menus are just an icon-click away and are easily moved and customized on screen.
Before you deal with any of that, you must first select one of the six spiffied-up character classes. Each has completely different attack styles, skill trees and passive perks…so choose wisely. The following is a brief rundown of each class:
Protector: The traditional “sword-and-board” fighter. If general melee is your style, this guy is for you.
Bounty Hunter: A master of firearms. A good choice if you prefer medium to long-ranged combat.
Elementalist: A summoner of the elements. If you fancy yourself a mage, this class fits the bill.
Umbralist: A master rogue. Hides in shadow until ready to unleash dual-wield blades at unsuspecting foes.
Phlogistoneer: A one-man arsenal. With flamethrower and heavy machine gun, this guy represents the traditional short to medium-ranged “tank”.
Constructor: Master of long-ranged combat. Builds turrets, gun platforms and a variety of mechanical creatures to take out enemies.
The story begins with you, son of the original famed monster-slayer. You embark on your long quest accompanied by Katrina; bound to service after being rescued long ago by your ancestor. Yes…Katrina is a ghost!
If you’re new to Van Helsing games, welcome…you’re in for quite a ride. If you’ve already completed some or all of the previous installments, I believe you’ll enjoy returning to discover the additions and enhancements that make this game amazing. Perhaps you’ll try a new character class and experience the game in a new light.
Overall, is The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut worth it? Absolutely, yes! If you’re a fan of ARPGs in general, or simply enjoy reading the classic Van Helsing stories, this game should make it to your top shelf.