This tower-defense role-playing hybrid may find an unexpected fan base – ‘80s toy enthusiasts. Like classic action figure playsets of yore, hidden traps are the focal point here, varying from monster filled cages to spring-loaded platforms. These slyly hidden booby traps were the highlight of any playset, be it He-Man’s medieval Castle Greyskull or MASK’s far more technologically advanced Boulder Hill. Heck, even The Get Along Gang’s Haunted Badger Mansion had a trapdoor that lead to a dungeon; a toy line based on cutesy greeting card characters, of all things.
World of Van Helsing: Deathtrap is far removed from The Get Along Gang, rest assured. Developer NeoCore is quite proud of how grizzly this series spin-off is, in fact, boasting of its ultra-violence in both the press release and product description. It certainly doesn’t disappoint here, with such traps as whirling blade saws grinding enemies into a crimson-hued pulp. Zoom the camera in close and often the screen is transformed into a sea of red, with various mythical creatures sliced, diced, frozen and shattered or burnt to a crisp by the traps you’ve precariously placed.
The idea is to place traps strategically so they cause as much damage as possible to the constant onslaught of enemies. The ungodly beings march along a glowing red path to a precious underworld portal, only deviating if you engage directly. If too many creatures make it through to the other side, then the mission is failed. After each wave new routes and enemy spawn points open. Between waves all the time in the world is at your disposal to plan for the next assault – there’s no nagging time limit whatsoever.
Each trap requires Essence to build, gained from killing enemies, and at the end of each mission your entire arsenal can be upgraded to provide wider range and deal more damage.
The overhead map screen soon proves invaluable as during later waves some enemies will take a short route and breach the portal from behind, where it may be unguarded. Fortunately, it’s possible to warp around the battlefield via magical portals, so you can get to where you’re needed in a matter of mere seconds. It’s also possible to change the game speed to 2x – it’s very easy to become accustomed to running around with haste, making it hard to go back to default. Alas, when playing co-op you’re forced to play on regular speed. This can make online play feel a little slow paced. At least the frame rate never falters, even when things get extremely hectic.