Neocore Games’ The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing took many of us by surprise, but it’s perhaps the developer who’s most surprised. After all, given the lack of enthusiasm for the name Van Helsing, it didn’t seem like this indie hack and slash would promise much. But lo and behold, it not only stands on its own but manages to do justice to the gothic lore on which Van Helsing is based.
Speaking to Orsolya Toth, Community Manager at Neocore games, we talked about the inspirations for the game, the decision to avoid generic monsters and locations like Transylvania and whether we’ll be seeing anything from the developer on the PS4 or Xbox One.
Ravi Sinha: Firstly, regarding the critical success of the game, did you expect it to be appreciated so much? Especially considering the amount of AAA hack and slash titles coming out on a yearly basis.
To be honest, the game’s success surpassed all of our expectations, and of course we are extremely happy about the amount of positive reviews the game received. It’s always nice to see that players enjoy our game, especially if we take the heavy competition into consideration. With so many ARPGs released frequently, we are very happy to see that a lot of people chose Van Helsing.
"When creating a game based on the style of a book (however loosely), the danger of slipping off the slope and creating an abomination is always there."
Ravi Sinha: The design choices for Van Helsing were heavily skewed towards The Mysterious Stranger, which became the default character model for the hero. How far does this representation influence the overall tone of the game and the character?
The Mysterious Stranger was one of the three options for Van Helsing’s appearance when we asked our fans to decide how our hero should look. We are glad that they chose this design, because this was the character that stood the closest to our hearts. As over 70 percent of the community voted for this character, it was clearly a win-win situation. This decision influences Van Helsing’s character, dialogue, gear, and pretty much his whole style very heavily. Also, the character of the Mysterious Stranger fits into the dark, noir-ish game world very well. The humorous quotes and Van Helsing’s frequent quarrels with Lady Katarina are also heavily influenced by the style of the Stranger.
Ravi Sinha: Following up on the events of Bram Stoker’s Dracula without outright relying on it, how difficult was it to walk this tight-rope? Was there always a danger of not successfully fulfilling the intended vision or going ridiculously over-the-top and disregarding the source novel’s best aspects (like the abysmal Van Helsing film)?
When creating a game based on the style of a book (however loosely), the danger of slipping off the slope and creating an abomination is always there. However, we only used Stoker’s Dracula as a starting point to fill a freshly created world with our own ideas. This way, our hands weren’t tied so tightly and we had a lot of room for our own implementations.
"For now, we do not plan to port Van Helsing over to next-gen consoles. However, this does not mean that in the future, we won't plan on doing so. "
Ravi Sinha: Where did the inspiration come from for the gothic-noir tone of the game, and the fictional setting of Borgova?
There were plenty of literary pieces and movies that affected our content designer, the most important sources are: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the movie and the novel), Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hide, all sorts of classical gothic stories, The Brotherhood of the Wolf (French movie) and Vampire Hunter D (the anime). To create the gothic world of Borgova, we drew a lot from Budapest; we were inspired by a lot of buildings and places that represent the capital’s style. Just to mention a few: the Heroes’ Square, the St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Royal Palace were all notable sources of inspiration.
Ravi Sinha: The creatures in the game are a result of technology gone wrong. Why not have Van Helsing go about travelling the world – particularly Transylvania – to just hunt Dracula and other mythical creatures?
The most important reason of this decision is that we did not want Van Helsing to hunt the “generic”, traditional fantasy monsters that can be found everywhere. We wanted to create original monsters, so we let our designer and graphics team’s imagination free, and the result was an army of monsters that were new, original and various. Based on fan feedback, this was a successful decision because the players love hunting down these new creatures.
Ravi Sinha: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is currently available for PC and is planned for the Xbox 360. Why not on the PlayStation 3? Will it be available at some point in the near future?
This is something we haven’t given a serious thought yet. For now, we aren’t planning a PlayStation release.
Ravi Sinha: As you are aware, both Microsoft and Sony have announced next generation consoles. Given that they both have PC like architecture, do you guys plan to port over the game to the PS4 and Xbox One?
For now, we do not plan to port Van Helsing over to next-gen consoles. However, this does not mean that in the future, we won’t plan on doing so. We always keep an eye out on freshly opened fields of market where we can advance to.
Ravi Sinha: Where does Van Helsing go from here? Are we going to see him back soon?
Van Helsing has a lot left to explore and he will set off to a new journey pretty soon as we have already announced The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing II. So, the show will go on!
A big thanks to Orsolya Toth from Neocore Games for setting this interview up.