by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
With The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, Neocore games turned left at the sign that said “right for what you usually do” and “left for stepping out of your comfort zone”. Traditionally a strategy studio, Neocore’s chance paid off handsomely and resulted in one of the most refreshing action-RPGs we’ve played in recent years. Neocore have just released The Incredible Adventures: Complete Pack, the culmination of six months worth of tweaking and adding to the game, to the point that one could easily call it a Director’s Cut.
At the heart of the pack stand Van Helsing’s three DLCs. The Blue Blood DLC upgrades Katarina’s deadliness, the Thaumaturge adds a playable mage class and the Arcane Mechanic a ranged… well… bulldozer. Odd? Certainly, but in that good Van Helsing way.
I call your tarantula, and raise with one of my own
Katarina’s new skills come both in offensive and defensive flavors. If you prefer to have her in the thick of things, Wail of Vengeance will have her die in a burst of flame that damages everything around her. Ethereal Evasion reduces the effectiveness of any critical hits that she may suffer. There are many more skills and her new versatility works extremely well in tandem with the new classes, if applied correctly. Of course you can still use Katarina’s original skills to buff your own character, but both Thaumaturge and Arcane Mechanic focus heavily on ranged combat so why not use the new skills to turn her into a deadly melee fighter? The complete pack offers many such choices, adding heaps of variety in the process.
The Thaumaturge plays as you would expect from a magic wielder. Stay out of range, throw magic spells at the throngs of monsters coming your way and dodge whatever they have in store for you. The run and gun gameplay style becomes fun when you start unlocking some of his more powerful skills. The Thaumaturge can cause deadly ice shards to rain down from above, doing damage to enemies over a large area or a pull a concentrated ray of fire from the sky that slices through foes like a hot knife through butter. Combine them, and the result is absolutely spectacular to watch.
The Arcane Mechanic prefers to keep his enemies at arm's length as well but is a little more steadfast when enemies come in close range. His weapon spews out grenades that bounce to extend their range at a relatively slow rate. He can conjure up mechanical spiders to fight on his side and distract monsters away from him.
Both classes are a little limited in what weapons they can use, as they are locked to only a single weapon type, but the diversity in their skills more than makes up for that.
Co-op fans will be happy to know that the game sports new netcode that fixes the issues that have been plaguing some players since release. Going beyond co-op, there is now also a PvP mode. And when you’re done playing through the campaign, a new Neverending Story mode will let you pop right back in and fight even tougher monsters while restricting your own ability, to add to the challenge.
Even with all the extra content, the complete pack occasionally trips over its own roots. The Arcane Mechanic Van Helsing is as puzzled about the work that Borislav does on the generator in his not-so-secret hideout as the vanilla Van Helsing. One would think that being a charge-pack carrying, grenade hurling mechanic would give him at least some basic insight in how generators work. I had hoped to see some improvements in load times as well but if anything they are a little slower than the original. In the grand scheme of things, however, such minor issues do not take anything away from the overall package.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Complete Pack really is the ultimate Van Helsing experience. It offers all the attractions of the original game, adding enough new flavor to keep you coming back for more.
New classes bring lots of gameplay variety
Load times have not improved