If there's one thing that keeps a gamer happy it's loot. Not just restricted to RPGs, these days loot is everywhere. I mean, is it even worth picking up a control pad if there's no promise of a loot chest at the end of it? Ok not everyone is loot mad, but if you are, then Victor Vran will be on your radar.
If you've ever played a Diabolo game, then you'll feel right at home. Victor, a hunter of demons, is on a quest to liberate the cursed city of Zagoravia, and plot-wise, you don't need to know much more than that. It's the combat where the game shines, combining action RPG elements with reaction-based moves which allow the player to dodge attacks and avoid damage. Stopping short of becoming a cookie-cutter, however, Victor Vran has no specific character classes. Instead, players can change their playstyle freely by switching between different weapon classes and your ultimate ability, here known as your demon power. This does provide a certain amount of freedom, but depending on your preferences, this is not necessarily a good thing.
Here's what I liked:
Smashing gameplay – Probably the most important factor of any game, but the action in Victor Vran is most satisfying indeed. Players can equip two weapons at any one time, switching easily between them using the bumper buttons. Since we're fighting demons here, enemies have a pesky habit of coming back to life, but it's possible to stop this by overkilling them. This basically means killing them with more power than is necessary and forms the basic theme of the game: over-the-top killing sprees. And let's be honest, whilst there's not a lot of skill involved, it's massive fun jumping into a huge swarm of demons and walloping them with a hammer or spamming hordes with magic attacks.
Sounds familiar – Unless you've been living under a rock the past 10 years, you'll instantly recognize the gravelly voice of Victor Vran, played superbly by Doug Cockle, best known for voicing Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series. Putting the mmm in moody, Cockle sets a dark, gritty tone to the game, basically reprising his role in The Witcher in all but name. Not to be overshadowed however, the rest of the cast also put in a good turn, in particular, the game's narrator, voiced by Andrew Wincott, who in a similar style to The Stanley Parable, lifts the mood throughout by mocking
Gerlat Victor, if we take a wrong turn or struggle with a new threat.
Here's what I didn't like:
Customization, or lack thereof – Victor's abilities are tied to your choice of weapon. As much as this makes sense not to be casting spells whilst welding a massive hammer, it does limit a number of player options. Each weapon type comes with two abilities alongside the basic attack. However each weapon shares the exact same skillset as every other weapon in its class, and there are limited weapon classes, to begin with. Equally, there is next to no armor to equip other than your starting suit, and very little stats to tweak, for those who enjoy a bit of tweaking. Victor does have an ultimate ability which can be changed using stones that drop as loot, but due to my choice of starting outfit (picked solely for aesthetics) my overdrive meter barely built up enough for me to make much use of it. The only other customization option is using tarot like cards which you can equip to boost various player stats like health and strength, but they didn't make much difference to gameplay, so I tended to forget to switch them up.
Muddled Menus – After hard day smashing demons, there's no better way to end the day than to sort through your loot, equipping the good stuff while selling all the tat to the nearest unsuspecting vendor. Unfortunately, the game manages to remove all joy from this end of adventure tradition, by providing a mess of a menu system that seems to jump between pages while you are trying to compare your items again the vendor equivalent. Similarly, the games map, where you can select which level to play, is a mess of a menu. Vague and unclear at best, it was impossible to easily find your next adventure location other than through trial and error.
Meh – Playing the Overkill Edition gave me access to the game's two add-ons: Fractured Worlds and Motorhead: Through the Ages. While Fractured Worlds brings more of the same, it was the Motorhead add-on which really stood out. Here we are tasked with bringing the mighty Snaggletooth back to life with the help of Motorhead legend Lemmy. An over-the-top story with the action is all set to the riffs of the band, even introducing guitars as a new weapon class. The mode was fantastic, but since is only a fraction of the game (both priced at an additional $9.99 if you only buy the base game) it really highlighted what was missing from the main story: a bit of personality.
Victor Vran is an ok dungeon crawler. There's nothing majorly wrong with it, but the Motorhead add-on shows us glimpses of personality that the main game lacks and the limited customization holds it back from being anything more than average. One of the main draws for these types of games is the loot, but when most of the loot is same or didn't change much, there's not a lot of reason to keep going. Whilst the fighting itself is satisfying, and the co-op (both online and offline) modes kept the game interesting socially, the longevity just isn't there. Unlike The Witcher 3, which I've still to finish. Thanks for the constant reminder Victor.
Score: Reader's Choice
Victor Vran was developed and published by Haemimont Games on Xbox One. It was released on May 30 for $19.99 or $39.99 for the Overkill Edition. A copy of the Overkill Edition was provided for review purposes.