By: Ted Chow
Van Helsing is back for some more vampire slaying, loot collecting and a whole lot of leveling. As the third iteration in the series, Van Helsing III finishes the epic trilogy that has seen many different changes and improvements from each subsequent game. While this may be the last game in the series, it is easily accessible for newcomers or veterans of the hack n’ slash genre.
Players may wish to play the other games if they care to follow the story, otherwise, the hacking and slashing is universal. If you’re looking for some dreary, gothic fun, then Van Helsing III is a game that takes the mythos and adds a twist with its overall setting and atmosphere.
If you have played Path of Exile or Diablo 3, the control schemes are very similar to many of the other hack n’ slash games on the market. Most of the character’s movement and interaction are handled with the mouse, while your spells and abilities can be accessed with the keyboard. Key binding is also available if you want to customize your experience. Aside from the basics, the controls seem to fit your standard hack n’ slash affair.
Visually speaking, Van Helsing III captures the atmosphere of the gothic mythos well with the broody mood and appropriate lighting. The character models were the weakest aspect of the artistic package, however, especially the lack of change when you equip different items.
One of the more enjoyable reasons to play a hack n’ slash is the cool progression of your equipment, but that core fundamental experience you’d expect is blatantly excluded. That is a shame as it could have enhanced the game further. The soundtrack, though, was rather tasteful relative to what I would have envisioned a gothic steam punk setting to have.
Van Helsing III can be considered another hack n’ slash clone, and as far as what else is available on the market, there aren’t many unique game mechanics to make it stand out. That isn’t to say that the game isn’t solid, but if you were expecting to garner more from the gameplay, you can find better experiences elsewhere.
Similar to any hack n’ slash, the main objective is to kill loads of enemy minions and collect new items to power your stats, spells and abilities. This is the core fundamental experience of the genre, and what isn’t broken doesn’t need to be fixed.
The game comes with six playable classes that offer some unique abilities worthy of multiple playthroughs. From the rogue-inspired umbralist, to the elementalist, there is a character that will appeal to most players. Characters will gain points that they’ll be able to spend in the core stat attributes as well as their skills and abilities whenever they level up.
Abilities go even more in depth as you can rank them up to offer additional passive stats that give new advantages. Reputation points can also be earned and used to acquire passive traits. In addition to all of these features for your main character, Lady Katarina is also upgradable in a similar fashion, but with more supportive abilities and passives.
Travelling through the world of Van Helsing III is probably the most intriguing aspect of the game as locations vary from dark laboratories to ancient forests. The scenery really provides the player with that gothic vibe that easily sells the Van Helsing story. Each new area works similarly to other hack n’ slash games with waypoints to and from your base of operation.
Your base will also be the central hub of all new quest lines, NPC interactions, item transactions and different “mini-quests” in the form of sending out your chimera to dig up loot or soldiers onto special recon missions. The game seems to provide the player with different things to extend its shelf life by offering these additional features, and for the most part, they’re novel to play around with.
The story is a continuation of the past Van Helsing games and starts up right after the second. Even if you didn’t play the first two games in the series, however, this should be pretty accessible with enough back story mentioned to fill any gaps.
Van Helsing III is a solid addition to the hack n’ slash genre and is a fitting end for the series as a whole. Whether the game has any staying power is really dependant on individual cases. The multiplayer helps, though it’s still plagued with a lack of visual customization. It’s worth playing for a new take on the Van Helsing mythos, but players should quell any high expectations on the supporting gameplay, unless they wish to come out a bit disappointed.