Tag Archive | steampunk

Video Game Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing (PC Only)

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The core concept originates from one of the protagonists in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, namely Van Helsing, the legendary vampire hunter, in this case set in a similar universe that resembles Europe in the 19th century, where monsters, magic and weird technology is real. Our protagonist is the son of the legendary Van Helsing who takes upon himself his father’s duties – a young man trained to slay monsters and rescue innocent souls, confident in his abilities as a hunter but still lacking the experience in using these abilities in real life.

Young Van Helsing is a gothic noir hero with a flair for the dramatic and Romantic gloom, who sees the world in black and white, taking everything a bit too seriously. He is the protagonist of his own grand tale, narrating his own adventures almost continuously.

And now he will face the most incredible adventure of his life, when the strange twist of fate brings him to the aid of the ancient and noble monsters of Borgovia threatened by a menace even more frightening than they ever could have imagined. Now the vampire lords and the werewolf clans need the greatest hunter of all times to fight the scientific nightmares appearing in their realm, created by a Frankenstein-like mad scientist who intends to give birth to a new age of enlightenment.

Van Helsing travels to Borgovia, to the kingdom on the very edge of the map, to the dark place where all legendary monsters used to roam. He will explore the snow-capped mountains and forests of the wilderness and walk the sprawling, gothic city of Borgovia, the town of black stones, marble spikes and gloomy courtyards where the helpless citizens need a new hero to free them from the nightmares of science.

I’m what you would call a “casual” girl gamer. I like to game but I don’t do it as a full time hobby (like reading). I do own quite a few games but I’m rather particular in my gaming habits. I prefer hack & slash (H&S) RPG games that allow me to point and click. I also prefer smaller scale RPG games vs MMOs/MMORPGs – I prefer to play single player at almost all times.
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Review: The Voyage of the Minotaur (Senta and the Steel Dragon, #1) by Wesley Allison *SPOILERS*

the Voyage of the minotaur

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In a world of steam power and rifles, where magic has not yet been forgotten, an expedition sets out to found a colony in a lost world. The Voyage of the Minotaur is a story of adventure and magic, religion and prejudice, steam engines and dinosaurs, angels and lizardmen, machine guns and wizards, sorceresses, bustles and corsets, steam-powered computers, hot air balloons, and dragons.

The Voyage of the Minotaur by Wesley Allison is the steampunk version of Imperial colonization with a little murder mystery thrown in for spice. The Dechantagne siblings – Iolanthe, Terrance, and Augie – are nobles who live in Mallontah (a country similar to colonial England). They – Iolanthe – have used all of their family’s influence and sunk their family’s fortune into a venture to colonize a newly discovered continent, Birmisia. This book covers the settlers’ voyage, landing, founding, and first interactions with Birmisia’s natives – intelligent two-legged lizard-men that the Dechantagnes’ want to use as labor and dinosaurs.

This is a new author and a new sub-genre for me, so I had no preconceptions prior to reading this novel. When I first started reading [the sample], I was pretty impressed. The author has a solid plot and the activity is rather interesting. The sample – about 4 chapters – was good enough that I purchased The Voyage of the Minotaur and its sequel, The Dark and Forbidding Land. Depending on how the sequel reads, I may buy book three, The Drache Girl. This is felt like a first book for Allison, but I know he has written many others. I really enjoyed this book – there is a lot of additional potential in this book (and therefore this author) that a good editor can drag out of it.

Characterization
It was after purchase that the issues of this novel started to appear. One of the first problems I had was characterization. Allison did not spend a lot of time building character – almost all of his main characters feel rather static: Iolanthe is rather cold, Augie is flighty, and Terrence is a troubled drug addict; Senta is happy-go-lucky, Zurfina the Magnificent is a mysterious Sorceress, etc. Allison’s secondary characters are so under developed as to be throw-aways – almost impossible to tell apart (unless you read with a moleskin and a pen :). We [the reader] aren’t really given enough information into character motivation – in addition to knowing what a character does, I also want to know why a character did it.
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