The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II

Van Helsing is back to the monster-ridden land of Borgovia in this second ARPG outing from developer NeocoreGames.

By potter, Posted 27 May 2014

Van Helsing is back to the monster-ridden land of Borgovia in this second ARPG outing from developer NeocoreGames. It’s a direct sequel to 2013’s The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing and it picks up right where the last game left off. Borgovia is being torn apart by an all-out war, with Van Helsing and the resistance fending off waves of deathly steampunk machines and strange monsters born in a mad scientist’s lab. Making a welcome return alongside Mr Helsing is Lady Katarina, your spectral sidekick with a sharp tongue and even sharper claws. Fans of the first game will be pleased to hear that the witty dialogue and genuinely funny pop-culture references have also made a return. It might be an NPC quoting Gandalf the Grey, or the Half Life logo spray-painted on a wall. I found myself laughing out loud when they popped up and thankfully they aren’t overdone or made too obvious, so it adds a refreshingly comic touch to an otherwise thematically dark game. It makes the characters likeable, too, and how often does that happen in games these days? Let alone Action RPGs.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II,Review,NeocoreGames,Borgovia Battleground
Borgovia Battleground

With three character classes to choose from, players can start from scratch with a fresh skill tree, import a character from the previous game, or start as a pre-levelled hunter with a choice of semi-progressed skill trees, depending on how you wish to do combat. Speaking of combat, it’s just what you’d expect from a Diablo-esque ARPG, but Neocore have improved on the solid combat from the first game by making the UI easier to read during the frantic brawls and there are now dozens more skills to play with. One playthrough just isn’t going to be enough to try each of the varied skills and abilities, such as an ice blast that, after leaving your rifle, splinters off to impale multiple enemies. Or a time-freezing aura that stops your enemies in their tracks and gives you ample time to unload rounds into their nasty faces. The number of enemies can really ramp up, too, so it’s handy to have plenty of tricks up your sleeve to dispatch the hordes. What would an Action RPG be without loot, though? Unfortunately I feel this is one of the game’s weak points. Sure, there’s loot, plenty of it too - but it all pretty much looks the same, so ultimately you just end up looking at numbers. Yes, I know that’s really the most important aspect, but over the course of the game I didn’t feel like my character looked any different from when I started. I would have liked to see some variation in my outfit, or just have some wacky hats or over the top weapons I could equip to my character.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II,Review,NeocoreGames,Searching for an ancient power
Searching for an ancient power

Borgovia is very pretty and the art team at Neocore have done an impressive job bringing this neo-gothic world to life. The environments are detailed and often beautiful. It’s not all dingy dungeons either, the maps are diverse enough to offer a change in scenery for each mission - from snowy werewolf infested forests to nightmarish psychedelic worlds in the ‘ink’ dimension, with equally nightmarish monsters populating the place. Each time I entered a new area I was excited to find out just what I would be fighting and I was always kept on my toes with the menagerie of creatures, machines and ghouls I had to blast or chop my way through. Exploration is encouraged on the off chance you stumble upon a hidden chest, side mission or quirky conversation with the friendlier inhabitants of Borgovia.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II,Review,NeocoreGames,Ink World
Ink World

The story mode is generous considering the low price point of the game, but how replayable it is will depend on how much you will enjoy experimenting with different character builds, or whether or not you can find three other friends to join in for some jolly cooperation. It was easy enough to go online and set up a co-op game with strangers, but unfortunately it seems the other multiplayer modes are not as playable this soon after launch.

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II,Review,NeocoreGames,Level diversity
Level diversity

It’s another solid Action Role Playing Game from Neocore and fans of the first game should definitely come back for a second helping of monster hunting. Newcomers shouldn’t be put off either. While it is a sequel, it’s not the most complex story to pick up and enjoy without having played through the first game.

William Potter, NoobFeed (@thequiffisdead)

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC
Publisher(s): NeocoreGames
Developer(s): NeocoreGames
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Dungeon Crawl, Hack And Slash
Release Date: 2014-04-07

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