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Video Game / The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing

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The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is an indie Hack and Slash RPG by Neocore Games (who also created King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame).

You play as the world famous monster hunter Van Helsing...'s son. Ever since your father retired from adventuring, you have taken up the family wide-brimmed hat and cloak and have become a famous monster hunter in your own right, accompanied by your loyal, but snarky companion, Lady Katarina (a centuries old ghost).

One day, you receive an alarming mission. The country of Borgovia, which your father brought peace to by forming a peace treaty between the country's humans and monsters, has suddenly fallen into chaos, and in that chaos has arisen a brutal dictatorship ruled by Professor Fulmigatti. Taking up your trusty swords and pistols, you depart for Borgovia, intent on finding out what exactly has happened, and to bring peace back to the land.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple...

A sequel (named Van Helsing 2) was released on May 22, 2014. In it, after successfully overthrowing Fulmigatti, Van Helsing leads the Borgovian Resistance against the Mad Scientists that rule the land, and their new leader General Harker. 2015 saw the release of a third game (in which Van Helsing must hunt down his nemesis and save Borgovia once and for all), as well as a "Final Cut", which lets one play through the three games' stories in one campaign, and the spin-off Deathtrap, expanding upon the original's Tower Defense sections as an unrelated hero tries to stop an invasion of monsters from a recurring alternate dimension called the Ink.

This game provides examples of:

  • An Adventurer Is You: In the first game, Van Helsing was confined to one class, which could be built to either rely on swords, guns, or magic. DLC later added two more classes, the magic-wielding Thaumaturge or the Mad Scientist Arcane Mechanic. The second game maintained and expanded upon those three classes, while the third game (and the Final Cut) have a total of six:
    • The Protector is a heavily-armored Tanking class that uses swords and shields to do heavy melee damage.
    • The Umbralist is a Scrapper who does close-range burst damage with magic focused on stealth.
    • The Elementalist is a Nuker who uses magic to do heavy AoE damage.
    • The Phlogistoneer is a Tank/Nuker hybrid who wears Powered Armor equipped with weapons such as flamethrowers and missiles.
    • The Bounty Hunter is a gun-user who relies on charged ranged attack via rifles or dual pistols, and is aided by drones that mark his target.
    • The Constructor is an Pet class who summons up swarms of robots to overwhelm his foes while providing fire support with his BFG.
  • Absurdly Low Level Cap: 30, which is rather low for a Hack and Slash. However, after beating the game defeating enemies earns you Glory, which can be spent to gain passive upgrades such as Crit Damage. The Final Cut, where the level cap raises it to 100.
  • Alternate History: The opening map has the French Confederacy, United Kingdom of Avalon, New Istanbul and bunch of other little tidbits showing that 19th Century Europe in-game is rather different than it was in Real Life.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Gold and essences are automatically picked up when Van Helsing steps on them.
    • Katarina can be sent to the nearest town to sell all the content of her stash.
    • The difficulty level can be lowered (or raised) at any time during the game.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Katarina flat out refuses to believe that Koschei the Deathless could have been real. Vampires, werewolves, monsters from the darkest nightmares of Dr. Frankstein, sure. But Koschei, oh no. It becomes even more absurd when she reveals the whole reason she's dead is because she was sacrificed in a ritual to Koschei.
  • Ascended Extra: The Tower Defense mission of the first game got expanded in the second with many more of them in the second with more features and maps. And now the developers are making a Tower Defence standalone game called Deathtrap...
  • Assist Character: Katarina can be set to attack your enemies or buff you passively as well as be sent to sell loot.
  • Bat Signal: Van Helsing has one on a roof of Borgova city; finding it is one of the second game's secrets. It is refers as "the Van Helsing Signal", and looks identical to Batman's logo, which is lampshaded by Van Helsing himself (who points that the local vampires are really obsessed by bats).
  • BFG: The Dreadknecht Snipers wield an oversized rifle which looks similar to a Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr anti tank rifle.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Your pistols, rifles, crossbows, machine guns, etc... never run out of ammo.
  • Broken Bridge: Well, it wasn't broken when you first arrived, but the bridge to the capital of Borgova is blown up by bandits when you try to cross it and you are forced to take a long detour through the mountains.
  • Chained by Fashion: Broken chains are hanging around Katarina's wrists.
  • Charged Attack: The Bounty Hunter class in the third game can aim his basic attack so that it does ridiculous damage (generally a One-Hit Kill on most regular foes). His drones can be upgraded to increase damage as well as shorten the time needed to aim, though good luck getting them to target the enemy you want.
  • Common Place Rare: A sidequest in the first game requires to gather 5 ratbones. The only way to get them is to find the five ratmen corpses in the slums' level. Living ratmen (who are a very common enemy in this level) don't drop them; ratmen corpses in other levels don't drop them either.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Averted. There's no visible greater power of good, all sides of the conflict are either humans or dark supernatural beings. It would have been a Devil, but No God situation if not for shrines giving Van Helsing supposedly holy power-related buffs. On the other hand, Koschei is Crystal Dragon Satan. Literally.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby: Bowler hats are among the available hats Van Helsing can wear.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Van Helsing and Katarina. Especially Katarina.
  • Drone Deployer: The Constructor class in a nutshell.
  • Dual Wielding: Longsword class weapons.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Van Helsing, world famous monster hunter, is treated like dirt by pretty much everyone he encounters. Early in the game, he has to pretend to be Katarina's manservant (more "manservent") just to get into the first town.
  • The Engineer: The Arcane Mechanist class focuses on using BFGs, drones and explosives to deal with enemies. In the third game, the Constructor has a mobile weapons platform that can be used to create turrets and drones while also dealing out damage on its own.
  • Evolving Title Screen: In Final Cut, the title screen shows the current player character wearing his gear, in front of a scenery which changes depending on the chapter you're playing.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Nutty Stefos.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Count Vlados, who's been leading the resistance against Professor Fulmigatti until Van Helsing arrives. He serves as your friendly Mission Control until he gets captured by General Harker's forces.
  • Generation Xerox: The apple didn't fall far from the tree where your Player Character and his more famous father are concerned.
  • Genre Savvy: Van Helsing himself takes this to the point that even Katarina, pretty well-versed on the topic herself, is genuinely bothered that he sticks to his knowledge of genre tropes rather than common sense and logic. Then comes Professor Fulmigatti, outright quoting Hollywood villains and acknowledging he's the final boss in a game. Koschei seemingly averts it, being puzzled by Van Helsing's antics, but, as shown in final dialogue, actually takes it EVEN further, fully aware he's the villain of the story and just being very good at playing his role. Surprsingly, all of them manage to avoid Breaking the Fourth Wall at that.
  • Genre Shift: The game's first chapter (which is essentially Diablo set in Transylvania) suggests a fairly standard take on a Van Helsing story, with a Vampire Hunter protagonist and a Monster Mash bestiary spiced up with Slavic folklore. However, by the time Van Helsing arrives in the capital city (which happens early in the first game) it suddenly shifts to macabre dystopian dieselpunk heavily inspired by Warhammer40000, with humans (first a Mad Scientist and then a General Ripper) as main antagonists, while the only vampire in the game is Van Helsing's ally. Only by the third game it returns to Gothic Horror roots (with plenty of hostile vampires), though it quickly escalates to a journey into the depths of Hell.
  • The Ghost: Abraham Van Helsing, the player character's father, is often referred in dialogs (the first game's plot is the direct consequence of his past actions in Borgovia), the protagonist is occasionally mistaken for him, and he has his own entry in the ingame encyclopedia, but he never appears in the game.
  • Glass Cannon: The Bounty Hunter, especially on the higher difficulties.
  • Guns Akimbo: Van Helsing wields his pistols like this.
  • The Gunslinger: The Bounty Hunter class.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You can change Van Helsing's first name into whatever you like, though it doesn't matter since everyone just uses his last name.
  • Industrialized Evil: What has replaced traditional monsters in large parts of Borgovia. Dreadsknechts march off the assembly lines and out into city and towns, killing and imprisoning anybody who dares oppose the new government. Lab created monstrosities work as overseers, magistrates and elite guards. It's telling that the locals would rather be dealing with the vampires and werewolves again.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Katarina wears a gorgeous dress with a torn bottom and chains around her wrists. Careful examination of her ingame model also shows that her severed head is floating slightly above her neck. The third game reveals that she was beheaded during a ritualistic human sacrifice disguised as a fancy ball to lure in victims.
  • Kill It with Fire: Every class has a flame based attack; be it using an actual flamethrower, firing incendiary rounds or summoning a fireball.
  • La Résistance: In the second game, Van Helsing is the leader of the Borgovian Resistance.
  • Large Ham: Several characters. Since the characters that are not like this are lukewarm in their voice-acting quality, it really helps.
  • Mad Scientist: Professor Fulmigatti, the Big Bad from the first game.
  • Magic Knight: The Protector class. Heavy armor, sword and shield backed up by a few magical abilities.
  • Magikarp Power: Nearly all abilities start off as very weak, and require not just upgrades but high level, specific talents and minmaxed gear to shine.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Dreadsknechts.
  • Mercy Rewarded: If you spare Gruumsh the Werewolf Leader, one of his minions will later give you an epic trophy. Katarina lampshades this.
    A reward for mercy?! What has happened to my beloved Borgovia?!
  • The Musketeer: Van Helsing can use a variety of melee weapons and ranged weapons.
  • Mythology Upgrade: Koschei the Deathless is usually portrayed as a skeletal sorcerer in fairy-tales and popular culture. Here he is the setting's God of Evil, a mix between Devil and Cthulhu, and his true form is draconic.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In the game's backstory, your father, the original Van Helsing, overthrew the vampire overlords who previously ruled Borgovia. He then turned control of the country over to a group of "enlightened individuals". The result? Turning Überwald into industrialized hellhole of a Police State. It's bad enough that a lot of people look back fondly to the time the vampires were in charge.
    • The first game ends when Van Helsing overthrows Professor Fulmigatti, the Mad Scientist ruling the country. In the second game, Borgovia is now suffering from a civil war and the new ruler (and Big Bad) is General Harker, who has access to the dangerous toy created by his predecessor and who is sane.
    • It happens again at the end of the second game. Prisoner Seven, the creepy guy who helps Van Helsing in the course of the game? It turns he is a captured supernatural entity, thwarting General Harker's plan allowed him to complete his own one, and he becomes the Big Bad of the third game.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The forcewall technology has been invented by a Nikola Tesla, who you meet in a later part of the first game when you need a way to bypass them to confront Fulmigatti.
  • Noodle Incident: The Europe map in the first game's opening cutscene displays several notes appearing along Van Helsing's initial journey to Borgovia, refering things like "The shadow casino - DO NOT ENTER!!!" at Monte-Carlo, or "The Carnival - NEVER trust the masks!" at Venice.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite most characters being Eastern European, almost everyone besides Katarina, vampires and the Alchemist speaks with bog-standard American English accent.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Katarina is incredibly mouthy, snarky and vitriolic about everything. When she gets solemn and quiet, be prepared for the game's plot to take a Darker and Edgier turn.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: The base game only comes with the "Hunter" class. You have to buy Thaumaturges and Arcane Mechanics.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Man-wolf style, averaging a good seven-to-nine feet tall. They retain they're human intelligence and are not bound by the phases of the moon.
  • Powered Armor: Phlogistoneer class utilizes it and it comes equipped with grenades launchers, missiles, flamethrowers, force fields, etc...
  • Public Domain Character:
    • It's Van Helsing! Wait, it's his son. It's okay, half the NPCs made the same mistake.
    • The third game reveals that Prisoner Seven is none other than Koschei the Deathless.
  • Rule of Cool: The very essence of the trilogy, with almost everyone being a Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot (or at least an electric werewolf cyborg). A Steampunk Vampire Hunter clad in Powered Armor (or who is a Gentleman Wizard, or Corvo Attano's Expy, etc) guided by Nikola Tesla to claim the power of the God of Thunder and stop an army of Gas Mask Mooks besieging an Industrialized Evil city built upon the corpse of an Eldritch Abomination is an unremarkable quest from the middle of the second game. It gets crazier (and more awesome) from there.
  • Ruritania: Borgovia, if you look at the map at the start of the game, is located in Real Life territory of Romania and Bulgaria.
  • Science Is Bad: Zigzagged. The Big Bad is a Mad Scientist turning Borgovia into a mechanized hellhole, but Van Helsing himself is able to use science to his advantage with various classes.
  • Sensual Slav: Played with. Katarina has a thick Slavic accent and some of her lines are rather suggestive, but her relationship with Van Helsing is completely platonic (since, you know, she is a ghost of a beheaded witch). She attempts to seduce an NPC in one scene, only to scare him senseless by taking her monster form.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: 80% of dialogue between Van Helsing and Katarina is this.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Elementalist class, lots of magical firepower and area-of-effect spells, but lacking in durability.
  • Steampunk: Borgovia, including Mecha-Mooks.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Bounty Hunter, Phlongistoneer and Constructor classes have a lot of explosive attacks.
  • Tower Defense: Defending the resistance's HQ in the first game was an (optional) foray into this, expanded upon in the second game and finally given its own spinoff, Deathtrap.
  • Travel Montage: The first game opens with Van Helsing doing some exposition narration, while the camera follows his journey from London to Borgovia through a red line drawn on a map of Europe (with occasional mentions of incidents which happened in various places).
  • Überwald: The series takes place in a fictional Eastern Europe country named Borgovia, and features a combination of steampunk, gothic horror element (vampires, undead creatures, werewolves...), and Slavic folklore.
  • Updated Re-release: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing: Final Cut, released on Steam in November 2015, includes the three original games' storyline as a single campaign, the six character classes from the third game, a level cap raised to 100, and a high-resolution texture pack (as an optional download). The Final Cut can be obtained for free by owners of the full original trilogy.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: You can actually engage in this from time to time, with Gruumsh being the first example, as he and his pack actually rescued the mayor from the soldiers. One of your possible responses upon learning this fact and bare in mind this comes after he has already surrendered to you? "Die Rabid Beast!"
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Van Helsing and Katarina. After defeating Prisoner Seven, Van Helsing releases Katarina from her binding to his family, only for her to stick around because she enjoys the company and the adventures.
  • Walking Armory: Bounty Hunter, Phlongistoneer and Constructor classes all apply but it goes double for the Phlongistoneer who is pretty much a Steampunk Iron Man.
  • Zerg Rush: There can be a lot of enemies onscreen at a time.