On paper, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III sounds like a fun little low-budget alternative to games like Diablo, Torchlight or Dungeon Siege. Conceptually, the gameplay is similar, the quest structure is similar, the leveling system is similar, pretty much everything in Van Helsing III borrows from other franchises in one way or another. In practice, however, Van Helsing III doesn’t do any of the individual elements well. “Functional” just about sums up my entire experience with the title. I’ve never played the first two entries in the series, and while many Steam user reviews praise the original, I have little desire to experience the entire story after finishing Van Helsing III.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III isn’t a bad game by any means, it’s just painfully uninspired. The developers have done nothing to differentiate themselves from the series they were inspired by. Instead, they’ve played it safe through and through. Van Helsing III can be enjoyable in small burst, but this isn’t the type of genre you want to play in small sessions. I struggled to play for more than a few missions at a time. Boredom kicks in before you can even warm up to the action. It may be just bad timing. Van Helsing is arriving a little too late. There are countless similarly themed games out there that are infinitely better and only cost a fraction of the asking price. Maybe the genre is in serious need of an overhaul, or maybe we should be just happy that titles like Pillars of Eternity exist so no one has to waste their time with this mediocrity.
"In practice, however, Van Helsing III doesn’t do any of the individual elements well. Functional just about sums up my entire experience with the title."
While previous Van Helsing entries were received relatively well, I still can’t imagine the narrative being any better. Between the laughable voice acting and lack of plot coherence, it’s impossible to pay attention and care for anything that goes on in Van Helsing’s shallow world. The voice acting is truly atrocious. It’s not awful enough to be “so bad that it’s good,” it’s just plain bad, period. I played through the game using the Warrior class, and while I tested each available class afterwards to compare gameplay styles, I found the controls incredibly dull. Everything is functional and the game is playable with both mouse and gamepad, but there’s no weight behind any of the attacks. The action is rudimentary and boring.
Upgrading your character doesn’t make things better either. Special attacks feel clunky, and there’s always a micro pause between switching commands. As a result, you end up spamming the same basic attack over and over. When playing solo, you’re accompanied by an AI who only makes things more frustrating. Like a flying wet rag, your companion just gets in the way and does very little to assist you during heated battles. Playing with friends makes the fighting more tolerable, but to be honest, it only made me want to player other titles in the genre instead.
"The entire game feels like a bad case of deja vu, and unless you’ve exhausted all other options, there is no reason to pick this up."
Van Helsing’s mediocrity extends to the overall presentation and performance. Even though I haven’t played the predecessors, I could spot reused assets just by comparing screenshots. The performance isn’t too stable either. After launching the game, it can take up to a minute for the main menu screen to show up. Our rig (GTX 780, i7 4770, 32GB of RAM) struggled to keep a steady 60fps when maxed out at 1440p. This is embarrassing considering the barren visuals. Turning some of the HDR settings helps, but it completely removes special effects like fogs and atmospheric lighting. Hopefully this will get patched in the future, but then again I wouldn’t recommend the title even if it ran smoothly.
All in all, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III offers nothing new or different from other, and better, entries in the genre. The entire game feels like a bad case of deja vu, and unless you’ve exhausted all other options, there is no reason to pick this up. If you’re really curious about the series, and you’re a huge fan of the lore, then you’re better off tackling the predecessors.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: PC