Van Helsing review for Diablo fans
There's this friend with whom I've been playing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. We are having a blast. Not because it is a game filled with adrenaline, but the exact opposite. It is fun and somewhat relaxing. Perfect for my friend who wants to chill out while having a conversation after he's done with his work.
Van Helsing vs Diablo
At first, it seems a lot like Diablo 2, but that's just on the surface. I mean, yeah, it's a dungeon/map crawler action RPG, but there are three key differences:
Handcrafted areas. Maps are not randomly generated. This is somewhat weird at first, considering the procedural generation expectations, but it turns out well because the pace is set just right.
Unique magic. I am loving my firewall spell. It's what I'm using the most throughout the game because of the way it works. You "draw" the firewall with your mouse. It sucks up mana and appears while you draw it. But the way magic (and therefore combat) works in general feels a bit more sophisticated, properly accompanying game design advances.
Completely different lore. Finally, you are not in the ultimate struggle of good versus evil. You are just some guy with cool origins traveling around, doing what you want to do. Even if the game still follows Diablo's structure of "city + areas" for each chapter (aka "Acts" for Diablo fans), the world feels genuinely something of its own thanks to this.
Different enough, but is it for you?
The beginning of the game might turn you off for a while, because the first chapter is really easy, but if you sit back and enjoy the ride, you'll feel difficulty escalate as you progress. I have taken 2 hours to beat the first and second chapter while doing most side quests. I think there's just one more chapter... I'm not sure as I haven't read spoilers. So you can expect at least 7 hours of playing time.
There is some replay value thanks to the very different character classes, along with bonus end-game content. You can also try starting a new game at level 1 but at increased difficulties. I am actually playing on normal because I don't want that much of a challenge, so if you want to take the game a bit more seriously, you won't be let down.
All in all, I recommend The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing even if it's not on sale. However if you do spot it under a discount, you must get it if you're a fan of the genre. Just make sure you get the Final Cut version of the game, which has all of the available content and then some. There's also a high-resolution texture pack for it.