Having already released The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing and The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II on Xbox One, it was only a matter of time before NeocoreGames dished out The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III. The game allows you to reprise your role as the titular monster hunter alongside his ever so charismatic companion Lady Katarina. In this third installment we get to take a trip back to Borgovia, a land in which we’ve already chased away the tyranny of mad science, but at what cost? The city of science is in ruin and the small factions and criminals fight for power to control what’s left. Alongside this a strange inconspicuous cult sees the coming of “the end times”, and it looks as though they could be onto something.
Your former ally tuned arch-villain is determined to turn Borgovia back to its hell-on-earth state, and it’s up to you to step on up and hunt the most dangerous monster who has ever lived. Worry not if you haven’t yet played the first and second installment, as the story does a good job at filling in the gaps for potential newbies. Much like the previous entries you’re able to select from a handful of character classes (six in this case) to kick some monster ass with. Classes all come with their own pros and cons, offering up a solid portion of variety throughout. You can either rely on the base Bounty Hunter class or opt in for something with more flavor such as the stealthy Umbralist class or the melee-specialist Protector class. Regardless as to what class you tether yourself to, you can utilize a wide range of passive and active skill trees to aid you on your quest.
Sadly there isn’t a tutorial to feed you into the experience but if you’ve played RPG games of the same type, you’ll have a good idea as to what to expect. That being said, this isn’t a game that’s overly hard to gel with. The controls are super easy to pick up and understand, and if you have any problems you can just make your way over to the options screen and see the layout first hand. As you play through the campaign you’ll be leveling up both Van Helsing and Lady Katrina, both of whom come with a level cap that can indeed be reached fairly quickly. That’s not a bad thing by any means but it would have been nice to have this stretched out just that bit further.
Gameplay has you taking on a wide variety of different minions and monsters throughout the tightly packed environments within. There’s no denying that there’s a heap of content to get your teeth stuck into, with a sizable band of quests and side-quests to keep you busy and engaged. That to the side I did manage to complete the game in under ten hours on my first run, and whilst that may be considered to be on the short side for a game of this standing, there are some other modes unlocked thereafter to dive on – more on that later. Moving back to the skill system, the skills for each class prove to be innovative. Skills can be further strengthened via upgrades, which will grant you access to additional modifications in the process. Again however – and due to the short campaign length – much of your skill-sets will remain untouched. One thing I will say in defense of this aspect is that the game heavily expects you to carefully consider your options from beginning to end, to get the most out of what you have got equipped.
Enemies still flood the screen whenever they attack you but if you’ve got a good character build and a decent sense of what to do, it soon becomes second nature. These enemies range in difficulty, with certain monsters packing a much harder punch than others. It has to be said that the enemy variants in this game are much more impressive than the previous entries, and they put up a much tougher fight too. You’ll get your standard foes that can be bashed to pieces with ease, you’ll get your bulkier foes that house powers of their own, and you’ll get spotlight hogging foes that that not only have power, but dish up one hell of an ass kicking. The game does a good job at scaling the difficulty if you choose to take on the story with your buddies via co-op play. Co-op comes with support for up to four players, but this game can indeed be nuked as a solo player just as well.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III serves up some excellent level design and location variation. Sure, there’s less emphasis on wide open exploration but the game makes one hell of an impression nevertheless. I was constantly impressed with the diverse environments within, often taking me through some truly intriguing places throughout. Unfortunately this does have an adverse effect on the combat, being that it’s far too easy to get backed into a corner due to the linear layout. It’s not a huge concern and certainly far from what I would describe as a deal breaker, but it can lead to some frustrating moments of play. Mercifully the combat itself feels fluid and simplistic, which is exactly how a game like this should be. It’s not a scratch on Diablo, that goes without saying, but it still manages to hold its own ground regardless.
When you’re done with the campaign – or when you hit level twenty seven to be precise – you’ll unlock a mode known as Scenario. In scenario you’re able to play on multiple maps with different rules in an attempt to complete quests. It’s very much the end-game content given to the player slightly early, but does manage to be quite exciting. The locations in this mode are largely taken from the campaign, so don’t expect to see too much here that you wouldn’t have already witnessed. Outside of this you and your nearest and dearest can trade co-op play for the PVP mode, which also supports up to four players. This is hardly the best section of the game and it did take quite some time to get a match going, but it’s a good mode to test out your skills in a more competitive based format.
The game is currently a part of January’s Games with Gold, meaning you can pick this up for no cost outside of the cost of an Xbox gold membership subscription. It also supports Xbox One X Enhancements, giving owners of the premium platform that extra visual kick. Sadly the game doesn’t come without some issues, chief among them being some inconsistencies with the framerate. This often becomes a problem when you’re trading blows with a large group of enemies, and although it’s far from a persistent problem, it can be jarring. There’s currently a wide range of different add-ons available for purchase on the Xbox Store. These add-ons consist of item sets, item packs, and more. They’re all generously priced and will no doubt entice, should you want to extend or bulk-up the experience.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III doesn’t stack up against the likes of Diablo, but it does indeed provide a well rounded action-RPG experience nevertheless. It implements much of what worked in the immediate predecessor and improves upon what didn’t. The game provides plenty of action, heaps of loot, and a conclusion that neatly wraps up the overarching story. With minor issues to the side, this installation is arguably the best in the trilogy.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.