The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing I – Complete Pack (PC) Review – A Whole Lot of Content, and a Few Fixes Too

Van Helsing boxart
Review by
Score: 87
Published by: NeoCore Games
Developed by: NeoCore Games

Game Features:

  • 1 player
  • 2-4 player co-op
  • Scenario mode
  • Neverending storymode
  • PvP mode
  • DLC support
  • $19.99
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PC Requirements

Minimum

  • OS:Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor:Dual Core CPU 2.0 GHz
  • Memory:1 GB RAM
  • Graphics:Nvidia 8800 GT, Intel HD4000 or AMD HD3850
  • DirectX:9.0c
  • Hard Drive:20 GB HD space
  • Sound:DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Recommended:

  • OS:Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor:Quad Core CPU 2.0 GHz
  • Memory:2 GB RAM
  • Graphics:Nvidia 275 GTX or AMD HD5770
  • DirectX®:9.0c
  • Hard Drive:20 GB HD space
  • Sound:DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card

Mac System Requirements

Minimum:

  • OS:OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later
  • Processor:Dual Core CPU 2.0 GHz
  • Memory:1 GB RAM
  • Graphics:Nvidia 330M, Intel HD4000 or AMD HD4670
  • Hard Drive:20 GB HD space

Recommended:

  • OS:OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later 
  • Processor:Quad Core CPU 2.0 GHz
  • Memory:2 GB RAM
  • Graphics:Nvidia 285M or Nvidia 640M or AMD HD4870
  • Hard Drive:20 GB HD space

This past May I had the opportunity to travel across the globe to beautiful Budapest, Hungary to visit developer NeoCore Games. While there I attended a review event and played their latest game, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, a Diablo-esque APRG centred on the offspring of Van Helsing and his ghostly companion, the Lady Katarina. I was pleasantly surprised by this game. Its single player campaign is rich with content, such as numerous quests and boss battles, extensive character customization, delightfully witty banter between the protagonist and his companion, and a beautiful gothic setting filled with mythical creatures from Slavic lore and towns and structures paying homage to the studio’s home town. Van Helsing still stands as one of my favourite PC games of 2013.

Although I really enjoyed the game it wasn’t without its faults. Combat was somewhat repetitive and the multiplayer was broken to the point where it was downright unplayable. The lack of character classes was also somewhat of a disappointment, and once the story was complete, unless you wanted to play a hardcore character, there really wasn’t much point in going back. The community voiced their concerns and thankfully the team at NeoCore listened as they were fully committed to resolving these issues

Over the past few months NeoCore has released a series of paid DLC packs for the game. While they can be purchased individually for those who have previously purchased the base game, NeoCore has recently released Van Helsing 1 – Complete Pack, which includes the core game and the previous three DLC packs, Blue Blood, Thaumaturge, and Arcane Mechanic. Fans of the game will be pleased to learn that to coincide with this release the game will be patched for free to include new Scenario levels, never ending story, a new PvP mode, monster respawns, a Mac version and PC controller support. Sadly, I haven’t returned back to Borgovia since my review, so I was quite eager to return to check out the new classes and the additional content.


The first DLC, Blue Blood, focuses on the beautiful Lady Katarina, and adds some much welcome additions to expand her skills.  A newly added second skill tree adds new passive skills that makes your already worthy companion a ferocious fighting machine, increasing her attack power, HP, improving dodging, enhancing resistances, and causing damage to surrounding enemies if fallen. But what truly makes this DLC pack spectacular is the addition of a new trick, Ghostly Mirage. When active, Lady Katarina summons two illusionary images of herself, both who fight just like her. Having three Lady Katarina’s at your side can be truly devastating, which can certainly make or break a fight when used at the right moment. No doubt this will be one of the most important skills or tricks to have hotkeyed. Speaking of hotkeys, I noticed that two extra slots have been added for skills and tricks, giving you access to six different abilities.

The second released DLC is a brand new class, the Thaumaturge. I had to research what the heck a Thaumaturge was prior to playing, and simply put it’s a fancy name for a mage. Instead of using the swords and guns like the original hunter, he uses arcane abilities to create mass destruction and manipulate his enemies. The trademark hat and bandana are missing, replaced with weird masks, spell cuffs and magical capes. Unlike the hunter, the Thaumaturge only has one skill tree to choose from, and he tends to favour elemental attacks, using ice, thunder, lightning and fire to deal some serious damage. He can also use his arcane abilities to teleport, slow time, use fear, and boil blood. There is really nothing special here, pretty standard cast skills. I briefly played this class, and perhaps it’s because I didn’t delve too far into the character’s skill tree, or my build was not effective, but I had a bit of difficulty taking on hordes upon hordes of vrikolaks and rusulkas, despite having Lady Katarina’s Ghostly Mirage skill activated. I often found myself dying or running away, and I certainly did not deal the damage that my hunter did in previous playthroughs, nor was I impressed with the Thaumaturge’s attacks. Still, this class was enjoyable to play, and I imagine that with the proper building of the character that he has the potential to be devastating. Included with this DLC is additional content specifically for the Thaumaturge, new maps and quests to complete, and some awesome new gear to collect.

While I have a tendency to favour casters, the Arcane Mechanic was by far my favourite class to play in Van Helsing, which is added in the third DLC pack. I had a lot of fun with him. An engineer specialist type character who uses explosives, gadgets and traps, and weird science (a prominent theme in the game), he creates a path of destruction in his wake. He is very steampunk looking, wearing goggles and weird helmets while wielding strange looking weapons. While there is only one skill tree available it’s filled with awesome abilities such as being able to create things like a mechanical spider to attack, missile turrets, barriers and shields, as well as having the ability to poison the enemy and use a jetpack, all which is vastly different from his hunter counterpart. The Arcane Mechanic also brings additional maps, quests and new gear.

With numerous complaints about co-op prior to the patch release I am quite pleased to report that I had no issue playing with a co-op partner. He was able to join my game seamlessly without any connection issues and we wreaked havoc throughout Borgovia together.  I highly recommend playing this game with a friend. Just imagine the damage that can be done with both using Ghostly Mirage…..an army of vicious Lady Katarinas can be quite deadly! Players can also face off against each other in a Battle Royale PvP or work together to complete one of the Scenario maps.

I did check out one of the Scenarios prior to the patch, which can be accessed through the Secret Lair, but be forewarned, the monsters that you face are level 30+ and venturing in with a low level character by yourself is not recommended! I met my end within seconds of entering. After the game has been patched, it seems there is a Level 27 requirement needed to play these maps. Scenarios certainly adds a nice replay value for those who have completed the game, gaining glory points and collecting new gear, which I should note will be ported over into the next installment. Finishing the story mode also gives players access to the Neverending Story mode, in which monsters become increasingly difficult and the drops for epic gear increases dramatically. And while I did not receive any official communication from NeoCore regarding Steam trading cares, I noticed that there are cards available, as I found some in my inventory, adding even more replay value.

In my initial review of Van Helsing I had noted that NeoCore was truly was committed to support and updates, and with the recent changes it is quite evident that they listen to their community. The base game was pretty good, but with the improvements they’ve made with the DLC and patches, addressing the multiplayer bug and adding two new classes, it’s now spectacular. I have concerns that the new classes and changes to Lady Katarina are paid DLC content, priced from $1.99 to $3.99 per pack, but considering the low cost of the base game ($14.99), and the amount of content included, it’s somewhat excusable. For those new to the game, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing I –  Complete Pack offers an ARPG filled with fun and interesting content that will keep you coming back for more. With the addition of new character classes, new maps and quests to complete, scenario levels, co-op, PvP, Steam trading cards and a never ending story mode, all for a mere $19.99, it’s an experience that should not be missed.