If you’re going to discuss great efforts at Diablo-esque dungeon crawls, you’re going to talk about Torchlight and you’re going to talk about the Van Helsing titles. The first of these, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, was a genuine surprise – an out-of-nowhere dungeon-crawling monster-slaying romp, and it distinguished itself with an excellent soundtrack, and a really neat Lovecraft-meets-Steampunk aesthetic. The second was more of the same but in a way that was easy-to-swallow – it didn’t reinvent the wheel because the wheel was more than good enough to pass muster. It simply added classes, combat options, and a little polish to a formula that already worked just fine. The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III, on the other hand, is an odd duck. Bewilderingly, it does try to reinvent the wheel; it attempts to fix a formula that wasn’t broken, and in so doing it significantly reduces the depth of the game-play, and mars the overall experience.
I’d like to get the positives out of the way – it’s a good-looking title, and it runs well. It possesses the same sense of humor as the previous incarnations of the franchise, and it certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a lot of variety in the game-play – the classes are clearly distinguished from each other, and there’s a mix of dungeon-crawl, staff management, and tower defense, though not as much of the latter two as the former, and this is a rather large misstep. There’s a good bit of min-maxing to be done if you’re into that sort of thing, but Van Helsing III removes both the ranged vs. melee option from every class and reduces the complexity of the classes that were carried over from the previous titles.