Okay, a few days ago I noticed there was another ARPG at the gates and it launched yesterday. I've played it for a few hours so far and it's looking pretty good. Good enough that I felt I might want to point out it's existence here. Before I launch into the review part of this post, let me point out one fact: The game is less than 15€ on steam. This does enter my considerations, but I'm of the opinion that a cheap turd is still a turd. And this is not a turd. I do not yet know how long the game takes to finish, but I already know that I will get my money's worth. So, without further ado, let's take a look at: "The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing" (Which is a slightly silly name, I shall henceforth refer to thee as "Van Helsing". Also I am too lazy to type the full name). Visuals This is the first thing that piqued my interest in the game. It probably comes as no big surprise to anyone that I am usually the first guy to be like "I don't give a rat's behind about graphics". Which isn't quite true, what I am actually trying to say is that you're not going to impress me with Crysis <number here> graphics. What I care about in graphics is a coherent style, well crafted worlds and animations. And that doesn't mean silly ragdoll physics or motion capturing. I still like D2's graphics, and that has nothing to do with nostalgia tinted glasses. They are just plain good. And Van Helsing get's that right. The world looks great. There are interesting things scattered around, character design steers well clear of the "uncanny valley", which is a problem I've encountered more and more in recent years. Less is more sometimes. So far spell effects aren't obstructing my view either, which is always a plus. Torchlight and Path of Exile get this wrong (personal opinion). Character Development At first glance it might seem that there is not much to it, as there are no classes here, just one Van Helsing and that's pretty much it. But at second glance, I find that I don't mind, because there are several ways you can develop your guy. Attributes Van Helsing comes with 4 Attributes that you can put points to at level up. Body - Max HP, Defense, Melee Oomph Dexterity - Ranged Damage, Dodge Willpower - Spell Damage, Max Mana Luck - Gold Find, Magic Find, Critical Damage, Dodge Skills Van Helsing has three skill trees that he can put points into at level up as well, different pool than the attribute points. Mystic Warrior - Melee & Spells (seem to be mostly close range) Occult Hunter - Range & Spells (seem to be mostly longer range spells, am not using this, though) Tricks and Auras - see below The abilities of the first two trees also have little additions to them that you can purchase. Cleave's range can be increased, for example. Each ability also has 3 powerups that you can activate during combat to enhance or alter the skill. Tricks and Auras actually needs a little more explaining. This is (obviously) two things in one. You can have two tricks and two auras equipped at the same time. Tricks are hotkeys to (a) and (s) by default, but this can be changed, auras are always active but you can pick which two you like. Tricks as well as auras can also be improved by skill points. You need to find someone to teach you these things, though, once you know a trick you can put points into it as you please, but the initial ability has to be picked up at a trainer. Tricks might include things like an AOE heal spell or an ability to freeze time for a few seconds. Nifty stuff. Perks Then there is perks. Perks are purchased with Fame points, similar to the fame thing in torchlight. You kill stuff and eventually you get another rank of fame and another perk point. Some perks are available from the start while others seem to unlock as I go. For example, the "Bully" perk became available when I developed my Body attribute to a certain point. Which was kinda funny. Companion Van Helsing also comes with a companion, the Lady Katarina. She's a Ghost. She can do things similar to the pets in torchlight, except you can configure her behavior a little better. You can tell her to automatically pick up items as you go and she also gets her own little skill tree and levels up on her own XP. Her abilities are passive and usually provide some boon to van helsing or herself. She can be switched between a melee, ranged or passive form (provides additional buffs). Combat The combat in this game is actually more involved than one might think. Aside from HP and Mana, Van Helsing also introduces a third resource called "Rage". This builds as you smack things and can be used to power your skills. Each skill has 3 possible power ups and each of these can be charged up to 3 times with a total of 3 charges spent per skill. So I might increase Cleave's damage 3 times or I might increase damage 2 times and use 1 charge to steal 5% of the damage in HP. You can also use presets here to save your favorite powerup and skill combos. Or you could use the time freeze ability I mentioned earlier to set things up at your own pace. All in all combat is pretty fun. You can hotkey multiple abilities (some reviews got this wrong. rtfm, people) and you can use "tab" to switch between two sets of abilties as well. Basically this has a nice feel of "easy to learn, hard to master" which is exactly what I want. I've started on the second hardest difficulty and I've already gotten my *** handed to me a few times, but not in a manner that felt unfair. Humor Yes, I made a category called humor. Van Helsing and Katarina have a lot of funny banter going on between them. I did not expect this from an ARPG, especially not at this price point, but there you have it. The voice acting is pretty good as well, I've seen worse in AAA titles. Well, not that I can see voice acting, but you know what I mean. The loot, the loot, the loot is on fire! I really like how you can improve MF via attributes here. Considering how disappointing I found loot to be in torchlight and path of exile, I really like it here. In addition to your standard fare in terms of rarity, items can also have a capacity for "essence" which is essentially open sockets, but on a more fluid scale. Let's say my Sword has 17 essence points, that means I can put two thingies of +10% MF into it (5 essence points each) and one thingy of ouch! for another 7 essence points for a total of 17. Or I could put 3 x +10% MF and have 2 essence left over. Rare items drop at a decent rate, the way I spread my stat points around to get some MF going and they are interesting enough to be useful. I find myself swapping items around way more often than I did in PoE or TL2 because things that drop actually improve what I have. to be continued... I'd keep going but I actually am itching to get back in the game now. Later guys!