Just over a year ago gamers were graced with a dungeon crawler known as The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. Games featuring the famous monster hunter are in very short supply, the art was fresh and different, and the plucky yet rude Katarina companion brought something very new to the table with the Van Helsing mythos. The game worked rather well but it suffered from a group of development issues that did not seem to be finished. Neocore has revealed the game series is going to have three entries. We now have the second game and it picks up right where the first one left off. A lot was added in this installment so I will be sure to cover the biggest ones.
It all seemed so simple: defeat the mad scientist, free the land and ride into the sunset, but sometimes the fall of a villain only opens the way to more sinister foes. So the incredible adventures continue, and Van Helsing, the famous monster-hunter returns to save the day again with the help of his charming, ghostly companion, Lady Katarina. The gothic metropolis of weird science is on the brink of destruction as chaos rules the streets and a new enemy plots revenge. It’s time to enter the dark side of Borgova and the forbidden wilderness, but beware: you are not the only one behind a mask.
The story picks up immediately after the first game and Van Helsing's journey shows no sign of stopping. The man in the mask and the peculiar demon that continues to visit the monster hunter clearly knows something but he refuses to spill the beans. The story has a great level of mystery to it and the progression is rather nice. It hardly feels like there is any “filler” missions that you are required to do until the story deems it so to progress.
Side Quests have been revamped in the new game and they are much better to complete and manage this time around. There are two sets of side quests, the ones you complete in the overworld by finding a certain item or slaying a particular monster, then there are the quests in the secret lair. Much like the assassin's in AC Brotherhood, you recruit generals as you go through the game and they will take on a mission to earn you items and a buttload of gold. In theory this is a great way to earn money, but at the same time it is way too easy. I have 100000 gold after completing a few of these quests and I have nothing to do with it. The other side quests are not bad, but some of them have a problem with giving too little information to go off of. I understand I have to find a gem, but it would help if I had a general idea of where to look for it.
The core gameplay has remained the same as there was nothing wrong with it in the first place. You have a set of skills that you can activate with hotkeys set by yourself. New skills are learned by completing quests or leveling up using skill points. The more you invest in a set of skills the more they unlock in the skill tree. Trying to make a hybrid class is rather tricky but hey, more power to you. Something new is the “Veteran Mode”, this is chosen when you start a new game. You can immediately start at level 30 and have your skill points automatically arranged in the order that is relevant to the class you pick. The classes added in the first game as DLC have been included in this sequel, it would have been odd it they didn't considering you can import your character file.
The game's maps feel a bit small, just like the previous game and the menus are still poorly designed. These are the same problems I found in the previous game and it is a letdown in that aspect. However, these problems do not hurt the game as much as you would think. Van Helsing 2 still has a great art style to it, everything from the monsters to the teslapunk machine style just looks fantastic. The character dialogue is hilarious as the interactions with Katarina and Van Helsing are unmatched in today's gaming environment.
Van Helsing 2 plays very well, if not better than the first game. There is still one more to come and I am very excited to see what will be added or changed in the new game. Co-Op has made a return and the way to match up with other players is easy to use. This game is certainly better with someone else playing with you. I still find this game to be better than games like Diablo and even Torchlight (in some ways). I highly recommend this game to the avid PC gamer. I give The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II a 9/10. You can get it on Steam and similar PC gaming online stores now.