A celebrated hero from the Vampire War, Abraham Van Helsing certainly looks the part with his commanding presence and cutthroat personality. A stoic man almost always seen with a frown on his face, he makes it clear that he’s only joined Cardia and the others to use them for his own mission: to investigate a man who apparently cheated death after being assassinated. However, despite the wall he builds around himself, Cardia soon discovers Helsing carries more than just titles and awards from the war two years ago; he shoulders regret, fueling a dark, almost desperate desire for revenge.
* * This is a spoiler heavy review. For a non-spoiler review, please read my full game review for Code:Realize (not yet posted) * *
Secretive and distant, Abraham Van Helsing first gives an impression of someone who only comes alive during conflict. When he’s not fighting or being confrontational, he’s indifferent to what’s going on around him; you can probably count the number of times he smiles throughout the entire game on your fingers. However, despite how many times he’s said he’s only part of the group to use them for his own means, Helsing isn’t completely without a heart; while his words may come across as cold and ruthless, he shows his kindness through his actions. His reputation of efficiency and heartlessness may precede him in many circles and he himself may believe what’s said about him, but the true Helsing is uncovered throughout the story as more is revealed about his past.
Helsing’s route is largely made from his past and the relationships he shares with individuals from it. His desire for revenge on Finis, his regret from the Vampire War and subsequent relationship it gave him with Delacroix II, and his friendship with Aleister shaped him to be who he is in the present.
His desire for revenge is revealed early on in the common route and is probably the largest defining trait he has as a character. Everything he does is done with revenge in mind: finding Cardia, joining the group, searching for clues about Beckford, and solving the Azoth cases. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that his sole purpose for living is to exact revenge on Finis. However, he doesn’t stay a “human weapon” throughout the game; as the story progresses, you find out more about Helsing as a person, especially after the heir to the vampire royalty, Delacroix II (aka Dracula or Delly, a nickname Impey bestowed on him lol) joins their company.
Delacroix II was a great supporting character. While he’s vampire royalty, he’s also a child; burdened with the legacy of his royal blood and the duty he feels to bring together the remaining of his race together because of it, he had to grow up quickly. However, the child inside of him is shown whenever he interacts with Sisi or acts spoiled around Cardia; it’s hard not to grow fond of him!
Sorry, Delly is best son, I don’t make the rules
While Helsing’s relationship with Delacroix II seems like one of mutual hatred at first, it’s apparent that Helsing looks after Delacroix II; after Delacroix II interacts more with their group, it’s easy to see that Helsing carries regrets from the Vampire War and Delacroix II is a reminder of those regrets to him. While exactly what he regrets isn’t revealed until much later on, the relationship between Helsing and Delacroix II changes as more of Helsing’s past is revealed and I personally found it the best developed relationship in the route, even more so than Helsing’s relationship with Cardia. Delacroix II and Helsing mirror each other in that they both carry burdens from the Vampire War and aren’t sure of how to interact with each other; while they very much want to say that their relationship is one of a killer and victim, they both know it isn’t as simple as that and want to understand each other while also wanting to stay ignorant in that they feel it’ll shake their own missions if they did come to know more than they already do.
I won’t go into his relationship with Aleister since it would spoil too much for the endings, but I will say that once the truth was revealed, I was completely shocked. I didn’t expect the story to go that way but thinking about it afterwards, I suppose there were very (I mean very) subtle hints throughout the story that pointed to it.
Helsing’s relationship with Cardia was done well for the most part. It felt like there was a bit of a jump-start for Cardia’s feelings after the game branched off from the common route, but I think it was developed well from there and flowed pretty well after that little hiccup. While romance took more of the backseat for Helsing’s route, it certainly was there subtly. While she was definitely more “human” in heart by the start of Helsing’s route, Cardia’s growing feelings for him played an important part of her growing to understand more of what it means to be human through her own feelings and her wanting to understand Helsing. Being the type of character he is, it’s very difficult to see Helsing’s growing feelings for Cardia. My advice would be to pay close attention to his actions and don’t take his words at face-value; if you do so, his feelings won’t feel like they came out of the blue.
Cardia grows a lot in this route. Like Helsing, she also carries regrets about not being able to protect people important to her in her past, but she grows the courage to protect the people important to her in the present when dangerous situations present themselves. She’s a braver and stronger person in all sorts ways by the end of this story and I really enjoyed watching her development. Her understanding of Helsing plays an important part towards the end of the story and shows how far she’s come since the start of the game; my eyes were a little watery when she gave her little speech about what he really wanted wasn’t revenge (won’t go into too many details because spoilers).
I played the normal end before the happy end and I’m glad that I did. The normal end was sad and I actually cried (just… a little…) playing it. If you want to end the route on the happiest note possible, definitely save the happy end for last! I really enjoyed the happy end; it was so cute and happy my face hurt from smiling so much. I also liked how realistic it was. I won’t go into too much detail here, but it definitely was happy and made me want more; I’m expecting great things from the fan disk!
I think Helsing’s route was written extremely well. Although much of the focus was on Helsing’s past and not much was put on Cardia’s side of things, the route stood by itself well and kept me intrigued. The suspense and mystery made it difficult for me to put my Vita down; I ended up trying to finish Helsing’s route late at night and pulled an all-nighter from it! The extra scenario was adorable as well and also blush inducing because of the CG >///<
Unfortunately, after coming from a history of playing mobile otoge, it hit me hard when it realized that after I played the extra scenario, that was it. The end. Nothing more. On the bright side, the fan disk is being released this month and Aksys announced they were looking into localizing it as well! I can say that I definitely enjoyed Helsing’s route and it has me looking forward to playing the rest of the characters. I’m planning on playing Frankenstein next, so until my next review, happy playing!