Julkaistu 6. heinäkuu.
The return of Van Helsing was heralded with much excitement and anticipation to the return of hunting beasties and baddies throughout the Romanian-inspired expanse of Borgovia, but it was met with disappointment and hands thrown up in confused defeat.
Like the first installment, The Incredibly Long Title of Van Helsing II (herein referred to as Helsing II) places the player in control of the gruff speaking monster hunter Van Helsing, son of the more famous Helsing that you're thinking of. Haunting his side is the impolite and begrudgingly helpful ghost Katarina, who takes on a variety of roles depending on your pre-made script for her. Taking place immediately after the events of the first game, Van Helsing finds no rest as he is instantly thrust into a new conflict that has arisen from the wreckage he left upon solving the last one.
There's something lost in the adventure by continuing the story so soon after the first game, and keeping you locked into the land of Borgovia. The first installment generated a lot of adventure and captured imagination of the player as they continuously unlocked more secrets about the odd monster hub of Borgovia. The player would move across the country side, rescuing small villages and delving into secret ruins and all-around truly capturing the feel of being a Van Helsing. This game, however, locks you back into Borgovia, with very little left to explore. Van Helsing is now well versed in the country's conflicts and legends, leaving only a few snippets of secrets to discover on his path. Also gone are the days of basic monster hunting, and instead he is charged with leading a resistance against a mechanical and undead army, none of which really feels like something that fits in with Van Helsing (they were featured in the first game, but not to this degree).
The variety of monsters you face feels limited, though it could only be deceptively so. It's hard to tell as any monster design is usually lost in the pulled back camera, environments blending in with the colors of the monsters, and the sheer mass of baddies that will swarm you. I feel bad for whomever designed the creatures, putting time and effort into creating each and every unique monster, only to have 90% of their design lost in the crowds. There are unique enemies, much like in Diablo, but unlike Diablo they are few and far between, with no real randomness to their set up. For the most part you'll just dredge through wave after wave of swarming enemies, only able to pick out your allies in the crowd by the color of their health bar.
Musically the game falls flat. The title score perfectly matches the backdrop of the time period (fictional though it may be), but you'll be hearing that and not much else for the entire game. Your attacks have adequete sounds to follow their barrage, but the enemies will pretty much just roar and snarl, if anything. Voice acting is average to below average in some cases. The actors read their lines, do the inflections as best they can, but there's no passion or thought behind the efforts.
Just like the first game, the gameplay is heavily inspired by Diablo, where you move by clicking on an area or just holding down the mouse button and aiming your hunter, and attacking is also controlled by the mouse buttons and the 1-6 keys, so you wont really be mixing movement and attacks at the same time, though it's highly recommended you learn to not stay in one place for too long unless you're really good at slowing enemies down.
To help you in your quest you have skills, auras, and tricks. Skills are acquired through the skill tree, the points for which are gained with every level. At first they're cheap, needing only one point to upgrade, but soon they raise the price to two points per upgrade and then three. This is done so you don't get more powerful abilities as quickly as the lower level ones, but as a result progression through your tree feels very slow, especially as you debate whether or not you should upgrade an existing skill, either through a passive effect or one of three bonus effects that you can toggle in the field. To its credit, this game does well with an individual skill, tossing aside the notion that it's all just upgrade the skill in a lateral fashion, and instead allowing you to further customize how you want your skill to operate, but much like the costs of skills this also serves to slow down progression through the tree. You can argue if this is good or bad, objectively, but to the player it feels dull. Auras are passive upgrades and tricks are mana-less abilities usually reserved for when situations get tough. Both auras and tricks are upgraded with skill points as well, though, further slowing down tree progression and either resulting in you having a few of each, or a lot of skills and virtually none of the other two.
Coming over from the DLC of the first game, Helsing II allows you to choose between three classes instead of one: hunter, engineer, and mage (the exact names I don't remember or care to look up). Hunters can use guns or swords and swap between either on the fly (though you'll most likely only stick with one as they don't share a skill tree but they have to share points - further progression slowing). Engineers attack more slowly and deliberately as well as summon turrets and mechanized spiders to help out. Mages do what mages do best: magic. All three can dabble in different elements (fire, ice, poison, and lightning), so they all feel very similiar in their effects even though their executions can be different.
The game would had been better served with just the original class, much how the vanilla version of the first game came. This allowed for a very varied class, offering lots of avenues to explore for your hunter. Now, all three feel slightly more limited compared to the original design of the previous game.
Gear comes much like in diablo, in different rarities with a lot of different stats to consider. You can enchant gear, there are set bonuses, the usual fare you come to expect from an action RPG. The large variety of stats that can be on a piece of gear allows for gear progression to be less linear than most games, which can be overwhelming but it does make for a richer experience.
Tower defense is back, but you can completely skip over it if you want; while fun, it's understandable if you do skip it after the first or second try, as it can get tedious. Along with tower defense you have unique npcs you can send out on missions along with soliders you pay to train and equip, and a beastie that can also go out on missions and collect loot and gold for you. It's a concept that has been done before, but honestly it's not one I'm a fan of. You are given these quests that sound interesting, and then are told that you are not allowed to go - you have to send an npc on the mission and you don't see how they progress, just if they succeeded or not. It's incredibly hollow and I saw no point in its inclusion at all.
Overall, the game plays much like the first game, but what content was there has been watered down by the inclusion of new, often shallow, content and all of it is spread too thin on a surprsingly short game. There is three chapters to the game, each relatively short and the story of the game just...ends. You can see it coming rather easily, but you're still interested in what will come of the predictable development, but they don't give you the satisfaction. The cliff hanger of this caliber is almost insulting, flaunting the idea of a sequel or future DLC so blatantly you get the feeling that they just didn't feel like giving you a real story when they could chop it up and serve it to you over a longer period of time, hoping you are willing to pay up each time you get another chunk.
If you're looking for a fun action RPG, you'd be better suited with the first Van Helsing, or better yet Torchlight I/II.