While game developers usually start thinking about sequels after their games come out, and are successful, the good people at NeocoreGames actually conceived of The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing as a trilogy before the first game was released in 2012. With The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III due out on PC at the end of May (and later on Mac and Xbox One), I spoke to narrative designer Viktor Juhasz and CCO Linda Bozoradi about this series, as well as what they’ve added, changed, and improved for this final chapter of the trilogy.
For someone who hasn’t played the first two, what is The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III, what kind of game is it?
Viktor: The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing is a trilogy of games focusing on the adventures of Van Helsing, a monster hunter in late-19th century Europe in which magic and monster are real. They’re action-RPGs with a lot of focus on storytelling and characters.
What other games do you think The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing is similar to, and what do you think makes it different?
Viktor: One thing that makes it different is that you have a sidekick named Katarina who’s a ghost. She has her own abilities, she can carry items, you can set her behavior, and can also be a melee character or a ranged fighter. She also has her own skill trees that level up, though they’re not as elaborate as Van Helsing’s.
Does she level up alongside Van Helsing?
Viktor: No, she levels up on her own. Though she does, in this new game, have her own gear as well as exclusive items.
When you sat down to make the first game, was the idea always there that it would be a trilogy, or did that come later?
Viktor: We always planned to make it a trilogy. Though at the same time, we wanted to make sure each game could stand on their own, but would be much more enjoyable if you played all three in order.
And just to be clear, each is a full game unto itself, it’s not that The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing is like three hours long, part two is another three hours, and together all three make a full game, right?
Viktor: Right. All three have beginning, middles, and endings. If you only follow the main quest, it might take you ten hours to finishing this third game on its own. And that’s if you skip all the side quests; if you do all of those, it can be like seventeen, eighteen hours.
Viktor: I’m so glad you said that. Usually, I have to explain that these games have nothing to do with that movie. Plus, the Van Helsing in our game is the son of the character in Stoker’s book.
Okay. Anyway, since it is connected to the book, what I’d like to know is, aside from that novel, what works of fiction — be they books, comics, movies, or even other games — were big influences on elements of The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III?
Viktor: There are dozens and dozens of inspirations, including a lot of classic gothic novels and pulp fiction, as well as such old movies as Metropolis. But I also think Sir Terry Pratchett was a big influence when it came to the setting, especially since we didn’t want to take ourselves too seriously.
People also sometimes refer to it as being steampunk, and I do too sometimes. But I actually think it goes beyond that, so I refer to it as “Mad Scientist-punk.”
One of my pet peeves about action-RPGs is that you can never carry enough loot and have to constantly run back to town to sell it off.
Viktor: This is where Katarina comes in. You can have her take stuff back to your lair.
Linda: You can even tell her to pick stuff up.
Viktor: You can set her to only pick up gold, or to pick up only the best items. But when you send her back to your lair to sell stuff, she’s gone for about ninety seconds. You have to hold the fort for a while. It’s not that long, but you don’t want to send her away in the middle of a battle.
Speaking of the lair, when you die, you also have a choice of where you want to respawn. You can respawn in your lair, which you do for free, but then you have to run all the way to where you were; you can respawn at the most recent checkpoint, which costs you a little bit of gold; or you can respawn where you died, which costs you a bit more gold.
Interesting. Now, when you started to work on The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III, what were some of the things you wanted to add, change, or improve upon from the first two?
Viktor: Well, one big thing is that we now have six new classes that replace the three from the first two games. Though these six classes are descendants of ones from the first two games.
Which is why you can’t carry your character over from the second game into this one like you were able to carry your character from the first game over to the second. Though to compensate, a level one character in The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III is way more powerful than a level one character in the first or second game. I wasn’t part of that process, but I would say it’s like being even higher than level ten.
Linda: Though people won’t be able to bring their characters over from the first two games, we are going to be giving people who’ve bought all three games a special DLC pack some time after launch that will have some additional side quests. That should be out in a few months, but I don’t know when for sure.
You mentioned earlier that this was always conceived as a trilogy of games. So was the plan always that the third would feature six different character classes than the first two games?
Linda: No, we changed that based on community feedback.
Viktor: When the first Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing came out, it didn’t actually have character classes. You would just determine his specialization — should he be a ranger fighter or someone who uses magic — through the skill tree. But the community really wanted there to be classes, so we introduced them through DLC for that first game.
Now, in The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III, we have six new classes, and they’re even more specialized. For example, we previously had a class where you’d use magic. But now we have The Elementalist, who also uses magic, but his magic uses the forces of nature to unleash terrible damage from a great distance. He’s great with fire, and can summon flame serpents. Another one is The Umbralest, who also uses magic, but he hides in the shadows he creates, and summons shadow creatures.
So, The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing III support controllers?
Linda: It will, but a few weeks after the game comes out.
And will the game be coming to anything other than PCs?
Linda: For now, it’s just PC, and then for Mac a bit later, a bit after the controller support. And then later we’ll be bringing the first game to Xbox One. The game is actually ready, we’re just finalizing things.
And the Hugh Jackson voice pack will be out…
Viktor: ….it won’t. Though in the second part I included an Easter egg of someone asking why you’re not using a crossbow [Jackman’s weapon in the movie], and in this third part, you finally get to.