I fell in love with The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing when it first came out. I praised the art, the story, the gameplay, as well as the unique difficulty curve and clever level design. Van Helsing II improved on the formula in every way, offering more skills, more variety, and more gameplay. There was more to do for side quests to earn better gear in Van Helsing II, making the replay value much higher. Now that The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III has come out, I am left disappointed – I wanted to love this game. I loved the tie-in spin off, Deathtrap, which helped introduce some new classes to play. Unfortunately, the third installment is lacking.
What makes a good sequel is improving on a formula that isn’t necessarily broken, but a formula that would benefit from added spice to give a more sophisticated flavor. This is where Van Helsing II shines, and Van Helsing III failed. Everything from VHII is in the new game, and that’s it. This game could have taken out mechanics and reintroduced them in a more balanced manner, but it all feels the same. Even the story seems to be a misguided mess.
The story of Abraham Van Helsing continues as he slays demons and monsters in a dystopian tesla-punk world riddled with famine and death. Despite this story being a finale, it feels nothing like one. I never cared about the story in this game because it felt incomplete. I was so enthralled with the other two games, and this presentation left me hanging. The game recaps on what happened previously, allowing you to play the third one without missing too much of the story. Sadly, it doesn’t add very much to the plot.
Combat is the same as the previous games. It is a traditional dungeon crawler RPG that borrows the Diablo/Baulder’s Gate play-style and control scheme. As you level up, you will get points to allocate into skills and stats to become stronger. Your left and right mouse clicks will move and attack respectively. There is a special meter that allows you to enhance your skills and give them added functionality. It feels the same – if anything, it’s almost worse.
Despite having three new classes to play as, they are all kind of boring. They also do not feel balanced at all. The roles are too strict when it comes to these classes. The Protector (Tank) class is too tanky, so it takes too long to kill things. While this can be remedied by playing online, there are people that prefer to play alone.
VHIII still has a great atmosphere. Side quests and the tower defense minigames from #2 are back, and while they can be fun to play, if you have stuck with the franchise since the beginning, you are not necessarily going to care that they are back because you want a new experience, not an old one.
I’m glad the developers closed out the trilogy. The game is still good, but is suffers from being average at the same time. People who have played the previous games will be dramatically disappointed with the third installment. However, I encourage new players to play this Van Helsing III. It is a solid dungeon crawler if you are not a Diablo fan.
You can grab the entire trilogy on Steam.