You know what? I am a fool, a fool who lives in his own bubble of optimism. I like to try and think only good things about games, because people put their time and effort into making these pieces of entertainment that I think many of us take for granted. Which is why generally I won’t attack many games negatively, because there is always some good in them.
Which is why it pains me a little to write this review, because the good in this case only rarely pops out from cover to let us know it is there. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III are anything but incredible.
I found out a couple of years back that I liked Diablo. Actually scratch that, I loved Diablo and even liked many other games that are either in the same genre, or that have basically tried to clone Blizzard’s glorious title.
There have been many that have been wonderful in their own right and others that whilst not being as good as Diablo, have at least been entertaining and given me my money’s worth. So I was pretty optimistic going into The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III, I’d not played the previous two, but had heard good things.
Here is the problem for me. This is a game that so wants to be a Diablo type game, but doesn’t quite know how to make it fun, how to bring enjoyment to your time with it. It just doesn’t seem to get what makes a game like this such a joyous thing.
My first and biggest issue is with the controls, they are clunky, awkward and just don’t feel as smooth as they need to be to really concentrate on the action. Becasue that is what makes a game like this work, controls that become second nature, that don’t mean you are concentrating on your character, but rather the intense action that surrounds you.
Here though, you are so focussed on Van Helsing himself, to make sure he is where you want him, is aiming correctly and generally doing what you want, that you often get overrun by groups of enemies.
Now I am not against difficult games, I love a challenge, but only if that is by design. Difficult because enemy AI is recognising your attack patterns, or using techniques to create more damage, not because you just can’t concentrate on what is important.
The same goes with the looting in the game, at no point did I feel myself getting excited about what may drop or what I can gain to make my character even better. If anything it just feels like it was put in the game because it is the done thing.
So therein lays another massive problem, Van Helsing III just isn’t fun, it lacks character, which is criminal withy a game that features a well known creation in the world of literature. It is a great starting point and there are loads of references to create something special, it just isn’t here.
Now it isn’t all bad, so I do want to finish on a couple of positives. Firstly, despite the lack of character in the game, the visuals and the world creation are pretty damned sublime. It’s why I got so excited when I first booted the game, it just look wonderful, the effects, the lighting, the atmosphere are there in spades.
The other thing I really did like and the one thing that pushed me further, was the mission structure. The main and side quests mix together really well and you do get to meet some interesting characters and potentially some good lore based stories, it’s just that these are never expanded on enough.
Now The Incredible Adventues of Van Helsing III isn’t the absolute worst game you can think of, it does have some nice ideas and it looks lovely and many of the issues I mention above can be patched and the issues I have with the lack of character are personal due to an interest in Bram Stoker’s original creation and what became of that over the years. Others will unlikely share those same concerns.
However. in a world where this genre has been done so much better and there are so many other options, it is nigh on impossible to recommend it to anyone.