I’ve been playing The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing on Steam lately and for the most part it’s an enjoyable game, though that might depend on what you like from your action RPGs. If you’re like me and you beat Diablo, cracked your knuckles and said “Job well done Mr. Fancy Pants, I’ll probably play through that game again sometime down the road” then you’ll probably get some great fun out of Van Helsing. If you’re one of those people who feel that beating the story is a minor point, and grinding for thousands of hours to get the best gear and highest paragon level, well the game has gotten better in that regard but it still lags behind the competition.
But none of that is really what I want to talk about today because today I have a complaint. In these types of games I like to feel like a badass that can leap into combat and slaughter dozens of creatures in seconds! That happens a lot of the time in Van Helsing, true, but sometimes the game just throws dozens of enemies at you, many with elemental ranged attacks, that completely overwhelm you. I’ve died just a second after an encounter has started many times while playing and while that could just be me sucking at the game, it doesn’t really bother me too much. What DOES bother me though are cowardly ranged enemies!
Vodyanoy Bilespitter? More like VodyANNOY Bilespitter! Am I right?
In this game most of the packs of bad guys that you run into will have three to six ranged types firing away at you. Normally this would be great, it would force you to prioritize targets and use your movement abilities to get to the enemies you need to take out quickly. Here though the ranged enemies often have a very fast movement speed which means it can be hard to chase them down. On top of that they run away when you get close. Often you can only get one hit on them before you have to chase them down again and this would be bad enough, but they also have Veteran creatures in the game, enemies with more heath. When you run into a pack of six ranged very quick veterans, you can kill every melee enemy within a few seconds, and then spend several minutes running in circles chasing the damned mobs, hitting them one hit at a time.
In The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing enemies have special tags under their names that give you a clue as to their abilities. Some might have tornado summoning powers, and a lot of them are Extra Fast.
There is very little in gaming more frustrating than chasing an enemy while it runs away. If done well, and sparingly, it can work as a frustration that gets the player good at using their movement and crowd control abilities. Sadly that’s not how it’s done in Van Helsing, and while I could go with a ranged spec or stick with a low DPS weapon that has a chance of slowing enemies, I shouldn’t have to spec my character around avoiding frustration.
There are another type of “Haha! You can’t hit me!” enemies in Van Helsing as well. In the last section of the game you run into Gargoyles that will leap into the air, becoming immune to damage for the duration, and then come back down for an AOE attack. Other games have enemies become ethereal or go underground, and it’s never better. It’s just frustrating because it’s not dangerous, it doesn’t make me have to change my tactics to survive, it just makes me stand there while I wait to be allowed to hit the damned enemy again!
I don’t mind it if developers make enemies that can avoid being hit, or use them to make a fight much more dangerous, but if the enemy just takes longer to kill and that’s IT then you need to rework that enemy! It’s a time waster, and it makes the game less fun overall.