Developer: Neocore Games
Publisher: Neocore Games
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac
Release Date: November 6th, 2015
Price: $44.99 [New], Free [If you own the trilogy]
Neocore Game (King Arthur, Crusaders) has been putting work into episodic ventures into the gothic world of Van Helsing since 2013. The third and final of these episodes was released earlier this year on Steam, receiving mixed reviews. Now, a mere six months later, Neocore has released Van Helsing: Final Cut which includes all three games from the trilogy and updates the smooth over gameplay in a single package.
For those new to the Neocore’s Van Helsing titles, they are Diablo-esque Action RPGs set in Borgovia, a gothic-styled setting in which you are set out to restore balance between human and monsters. The story is certainly not unique; pretty rudimentary on the surface. However, the dialogue is so well executed that it’s hard to be at least a little interested in what is going on in Borgovia.
Also, this is the first (to my knowledge) Diablo-styled game in which player choice actually holds weight. For example — and this may be a spoiler if you’re really adamant about discovering everything for yourself — I was sent in the beginning of the game in a wolves’ den in order to slay the leader. Upon killing his wolf minions and meeting him face to face, the game gave me a choice to kill him or spare his life. I don’t mess with wolves so I killed him. Later in the game while I was trying to gather power from a electricity center for a quest, a group of wolves attacked me and said it was because I had killed their leader. While the choice isn’t Dragon Age levels of sophistication, it is a really nice touch to Final Cut.
Originally, the episodes were meant to be home to cheap, 10-hour campaigns that could be kicked out by Neocore every six months or so. Doing the math, it would seem Final Cut would come out to about 30 hours depending on play-style. The game pushes closer to 50 hours worth of content, even more if you include multiplayer. Quests have been extended, or added, and dialogue has been ramped up. For an extra 20 hours, it never felt like Neocore was trying to fluff up the game, rather enhance what was already there.
For any of you that have played Diablo or Torchlight or any other of the thousands of ARPGs, the gameplay will be familiar. A constant slamming on the left and right mouse buttons for hours on end. For some reason, Final Cut just doesn’t feel the same though. It feels better. I’ve played every major ARPG to some extent and I’ve never played one so smooth and responsive. I don’t know what it is, but everything comes out feeling like it was without flaw.
This smooth experience is also largely due the huge amount of play-styles Final Cut accommodates. With six different characters, each suited for a different style of play, and an immense skill tree, the game caters to what you want to play. There’s no filler skills, or low level ones that give only a negligible effect, but rather the skills start good and only go up from there.
It would be a bit suspicious if Neocore didn’t upgrade the textures for this Final Cut edition, and at first I had thought that they didn’t. It turns out that the HD texture pack is a separate (and free) download on Steam so that the core game downloads more quickly. I have never heard of this idea and it is absolutely genius! Download sizes are becoming huge in this age and it’s nice to be able to jump into the game quickly and wait for HD textures to download later (and it will be later considering the HD textures are about 20 GB).
Even without the HD textures, the game still looks good. Not stunning by any means, but good. The pulled out camera softens the rough edges of the terrain and the explosions of color (yes, color in a gothic game!) on screen overcome the senses. At the highest the game can run vanilla, the graphics are passable at best, but still almost an oversight when compared to everything else the game has to offer.
Included in this oversight seems to be the soundtrack. Much like the graphics, it isn’t bad, not even okay, just good. Not great, but good. The music is exactly what you’d expect it to be. I’ll leave it at this. Final Cut has the same music as any other game with a blacksmith or a potion shop. That isn’t to say it doesn’t fit because it certainly does, but Neocore didn’t try to break the mold in this aspect.
Final Cut is really a complete package. Just a summary of the features included in it could fill up this entire review. Not only the amount of gameplay, but the quality of the gameplay is amazing. Very rarely is a definitive edition of a game released that doesn’t disappoint or feels like a cash grab. Instead it feels like Neocore is giving you more for your money, which would be well spent.
However, this is three games combined into one which means the size alone is prone to problems. Long loading times plague you between each area, and the textures and sound can become redundant very quickly. There is a lot of content, it’s just a matter of how quickly we decide to consume it.
— THE BOTTOM LINE —
If you own the other trilogy of Van Helsing games by Neocore, then picking up Final Cut is a no brainer considering it’s free (find out how to redeem it here). However, for those new to the series, $44.99 may be a lot to ask for an Indie title. Bear in mind that it is three $14.99 games, plus DLC and extra content specifically for Final Cute; all of this more than justifies the price. If you find Final Cut on sale, pick it up, if not then you should still consider it, even for the high price.