Welcome to a whole new month of free games from Xbox Live’s Games with Gold. Here, at BlazeKick, we play every game and review them so we can determine if the games are good or bad and which game deserves the title of the Golden Game of the Month.

Deathtrap: World of Van Helsing is a unique tower defense, action-RPG hybrid brought to us by NeoCore Games. This interesting combination allows for a fresh breath into the tower defense genre, bringing new gamers to the scene but not changing it so much to divert old time fans of the genre, like me. With beautiful graphics, tasteful music, enjoyable challenge, and replayability, this game is definitely a great start to the month and the year.

Starting off, the story is pretty basic; you play a hired gun to stop monsters in a separate dimension known as the Otherworld. These creatures are being released to go through the portal to the human world so that they may destroy the human race and it is up to you, as the Huntsman, Sorceress, or Mercenary (with the help of deadly traps), to stop them. The story is nothing to write home about, but in-depth writing may not be necessary for a tower defense game. Either way, it helped create the world and a purpose for wanting to play the game.

Visually, this game is absolutely stunning. The environment creates a ghostly guise that makes you feel like death is imminent, hiding around every corner. Being in a place like the Otherworld, this helps put you into a situation that Van Helsing would be in. The look of the glyphs on the walking stones, the darkness of the forests, the grittiness of the lava stones, and the translucent crystals had me staring in awe at each stage. The style of the playable characters and monsters are unique and fit the style of the world very nicely, as well, with the outfits looking very reminiscent of the times with the monsters having a very sick, grotesque appearance.

However, I have experienced many instances where the frames would drop, dramatically. Usually, this would happen when I’m closer to the enemy gates or during boss fights that spawned creatures as they moved throughout the stage. While it didn’t really hurt my chances of winning, it was still irritating to be so focused to have my rhythm be thrown off because one too many enemies spawned.

The background music sounds great, it enforces the ghastly atmosphere that the visuals bring out. Now, even though it fits well, it’s not really that memorable like the soundtracks of games like Ratchet and Clank, Halo, or Overwatch. I found myself wanting to mute it and listen to my own music, instead.

The voice acting falls in the same boat, or, rather, falls out of that boat and into deep water. Basically, what I’m saying is that it is horrendous, especially the Huntsman. The voice, itself, sounds great; it’s gritty and deep which I find fits perfectly with the type and appearance of the character. It’s the expression that falls short, where he keeps pretty monotone for the majority of the lines with anger and shock coming out every now and then. However, when those emotions come out, it doesn’t sound authentic and seems very forced.

The gameplay is definitely where this game shines. I have always loved tower defense games and action-RPGs are always fun when done right, and this game delivers. Having to focus on both the towers and the character mid-fight creates an interesting challenge that forces you to decide on what’s most important and requires multitasking to complete. The enemies are also difficult enough to not have the player only attack with just the chosen character or the towers but require a mix of both. It’s thoroughly enjoyable to play and I soon found that, after playing for just one night, I realized I had already plunged ten gameplay hours without hesitation.

Further into the game, on level ten, I hit a huge challenge. From level one to nine, you do have a steady increase in challenge, but on ten I found I had to lower the difficulty just to get passed it. I found that it was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, level in the game. I got so fed up with losing I went to older levels to beat them on hard to get new items and experience and even then I did so poorly. The funny thing is that the next level was wicked easy in comparison. There were too many lanes open at the beginning to be able to put sufficient defenses up with enough upgrades with the little amount of resources available.

But, even though it’s fun, it still has issues. For instance, the controls, in-game, took a while to get used to. They aren’t like average controls, but they do keep to a decent mapping that you get the hang of after a few levels. The over world controls, however, are not good in the slightest. They have both the level pick map and the character/store windows in the same area so the control stick and A covers part of t and LT/RT and X cover the other. Even after beating the story, I found myself pressing A or use the control stick by accident when I wanted to go into a level. And speaking of the character screen, it confuses me that, when you look at the store or inventory, the item being worn is shown twice, making you think you have an extra item. It wasn’t until I realized there was a star next to the worn item that I figured out what to sell/scavenge.

Have you tried out Deathtrap: World of Van Helsing? What’d you think? Who is your favorite character? Let us know in the comments, below, or tweet us at @BlazeKickTweet or on my personal Twitter, @GeminiTrinity.

Written by: GeminiTrinity

I'm a Communications major/Business major at New England College. I'm also an aspiring Director, Screenwriter, Editor, Producer, and Actor. I also make music videos, skits, and "Let's Plays" for YouTube.