World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap (Xbox One) Review

By David Jennings 18.02.2017

Review for World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap on Xbox One

Sometimes it pays off to go into something with low expectations, because every now and then, it's nice to be surprised. The birthday cake you didn't think would be waiting there upon arriving home, that party where a long-lost friend is bumped and suddenly it's like they were only gone for mere seconds. Okay, so perhaps that's over dramatising things a little bit, but here's a story about a time when a reviewer sat down with a game by the name of World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap… Are you sitting comfortably?

Having never played any of the previous Van Helsing games from the studio NeocoreGames, it was with fresh eyes that this was approached. After looking a little at the team's background on the run up to starting the final review, it quickly became apparent that it has played around with the Helsing licence for some time now, being greeted with a mixed reception, to say the least. World of Van Helsing is different, however, to those have come before it. Yes, it is a single-player game played through an isometric perspective with RPG elements, yet the key change here is that Deathtrap features more than a tad of tower defence gameplay mechanics - something new to the series to jazz things up slightly.

Here are the basics: kicking things off, there are three different classes to play as - a pretty standard bunch. There is a sorceress, for those that love playing with magic (what is this armour that you speak of?), the warrior for those who would much rather get into people's faces with close combat weapons (all the while ensuring that they have got plenty of armour on offer), or, finally, a gunslinger...a modern day archer...the person at the back, dishing out the ranged DPS. The core concept of the title is to fight against waves of enemies using a number of powers and abilities that most will have come to expect from the three different character types. The enemies, which in this case comprise of all sorts of ghouls, monsters, and demons, all want a piece of the world and that simply cannot happen. The NHS is too busy as it is, after all...

Screenshot for World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap on Xbox One

Very quickly there is a need to utilise the map to gain an advantage, springing well laid traps that vary from weapons to summoning allies. The basic premise of a level is that players start prior to first wave next to the portal that must be protected. A red line will lead to where the first lot of villains will come from, of which, thanks to a couple of button clicks, you can find out who's going to be up against you in the upcoming round - say, for example, three or four basic hordes and a couple of abominations that are susceptible to poison attacks. With this core information in hand, it is time to set about laying the traps. These cannot just be placed anywhere as is found out during the course of the opening tutorial. There are four different trap points, each having the ability to house different traps. If you have done your homework correctly, players will have a good idea what is coming along that particular route, so it is a case of throwing up some turrets, perhaps a poison ground trap or two, and all sorted. Some techniques will work better on some villains than others, though, obviously.

Once the traps are ready, or having ran out of 'Essence' (an in-game resource that is spent to build the traps, and to prevent gamers building every trap on every point), it's time to start the wave. During the wave, the goal is simple: kill them before any can get to the portal. If enough of the enemies get through, then it's game over. The traps will do what they can, but a lot of the slaying is still up to those in control. Character-based combat attacks are mapped to three button presses, with a fourth slot, at least to begin with, home to potions. The mini map will show where enemies are heading, and if they are moving towards the portal along the red line previously mentioned. It is easy enough during wave one, yet the more progress is made through the waves, the more lanes will be active. That means being careful not to miss any lanes leading to the portal is imperative, checking to see, for instance, that enough of the right traps are placed, and so on. Once all of the demons and such that you were expecting have been sent packing, then it is time to be greeted with a wave complete, giving the chance to upgrade traps, build new ones, and to check out if anymore lanes are open to the portal (just remember to check prior to starting the next wave what enemies to expect before building new traps).

Screenshot for World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap on Xbox One

Once all the waves are completed during that particular level, it's then back to the main hub to dish out any experience gained from combat, further advancing the currently available traps, unlocking new style ones, and/or upgrade your character. Different minions can also be unlocked, of which you can pick one of prior to a level to accompany you into battle.

World of Van Helsing does a very good job of explaining how the trap system 'works,' both in terms of gameplay and locations, as well as point upgrading/unlocking of new ones; however, one pretty big gripe is that this title seems to neglect someone a little - the person calling the shots here. The tutorials and such do touch upon character progression and the like, but there is a general feeling that the developer wanted gamers to make the most out of the traps, forgetting about the main character (that is, of course, you). By flicking through the pretty standard layout of the RPG element menus, it is clear there's a lot to unlock along the way, but here - ladies and gentlemen - is where another major snag is hit: the longevity.

While the opening few levels are a whole heap of fun, and it is great learning about the types of enemies, trying to gauge what to attack first, where to spend essence, and what to unlock. It almost feels like the game is really getting into its stride before suddenly realising, 'Haven't I done this before?', 'This is very similar to that level a few back', and so on. It starts to feel less fun and more like you are rinse-and-repeating elements and judgements made earlier on.

Screenshot for World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap on Xbox One

It does help, though, that the presentation of levels, and, to be honest, the game as a whole, is great and fits the ethos of the lore and the stories of old for anyone thinking of the adventures of Van Helsing. Steampunk fanatics will be right at home, as will those who enjoy adventures set in mystical and fantastical worlds. As mentioned, the gameplay is fairly simple to grasp, although the tutorial should have been expanded slightly so that those who maybe have never dabbled in any action RPG antics like this could feel a little more comfortable at home within the main menus.

Trying to explain how Deathtrap works is difficult, and while it isn't perfect, the groundwork for a very decent isometric RPG with a little tower defence is indeed here. NeocoreGames could just have done with giving more end game content and a touch more explanation into how some of the deeper RPG elements work. For those wanting more after finishing that solo mode, there are also multiplayer and co-operative options available, which are equally as entertaining as the single-player mode, if not more so.

Screenshot for World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap has recently been available via the Xbox Deal of the Month promotion. If you managed to grab it before it went back up in price, you've got no reason at all not to try this out as it breaks all misconceptions. For anyone thinking this will following in the footsteps of previous Van Helsing outings, proving to be a poor, un-eventful, drag of a game, get ready for a very pleasant surprise. Perhaps it is not a full price kind-of game, but definitely one that is great to get stuck into for the right price. Clever use of traps and abilities, polished and presented well, this is an example of a great budget strategy affair, and, overall, good work from NeocoreGames.

Developer

NeocoreGames

Publisher

NeocoreGames

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
imjamesgrech, mikem52, Ofisil

There are 3 members online at the moment.