Victor Vran follows the adventure of a moody demon hunter on a quest to aid the cursed city of Zagoravia from a demon attack. The eponymous hero must help a mysterious queen to discover the origins of the demon outbreak, meeting an array of colourful characters along the way, all the while accompanied by The Voice, a wise-cracking demonic sidekick. The back and forth of the moody and ever-serious Victor and the comical ridicule he suffers at the hands of the voice works well and raises a smile although it can be slightly cringe-inducing at times. The story takes place in a Gothic/Victorian style world with a mixture of steampunk inspired weaponry and magic at your disposal as well as the usual array of guns and swords. The console version of the game also includes the Fractured Worlds and Motorhead expansions and all extra content that came with them.
Before I start going into detail about the gameplay, I feel the elephant in the room should be addressed which in this case is Diablo 3. It’s hard to discuss a game of this style without mentioning Diablo as it is the bar that these games are measured to, Victor Vran is similar in style and core gameplay but in terms of mechanics it plays very differently, as I will outline below.
Victor Vran is a dungeon crawling action RPG played from a top/side perspective in which the style of play is down to the player. Rather than picking a class at the beginning of the game like most games of this ilk, every player plays as Victor but it is the costume and the weapons chosen that adapt the play-style, both of which can be changed at any time. This makes the game play differently to other titles of the same genre as players can change their style on the fly, rather than committing to one play style and having to use if for the entirety of the game.
Players pick from 3 outfits at the beginning of the game and each have a different effect on the overdrive meter. Overdrive allows the use of demon powers, which are powerful magic skills which can offer damage, buffs or healing so how it is used will have an effect on how the game is played. Players who are used to a more magic based role will choose an outfit in which the meter fills over time so they can start a battle with full overdrive. Those who prefer a damage based role can choose an outfit that makes the overdrive meter fill up when damage is dealt but depletes over time, making a new role that is much more aggressive. The choice of 3 outfits is available when starting the game but more are obtained as the character is levelled up, allowing a change or role if the player wishes. This offers a range of options but is much less rigid than other titles and is a welcome change from picking a class and being stuck with it.
Once an outfit has been picked, players can further customise the way they play by the weapons they choose to use. The weapons available are swords, hammers rapiers and scythes for close range combat and Shotguns, lightening guns and hand mortars for those who prefer to dish out punishment from afar. There are also 2 extra weapons in the form of twin revolvers and a guitar which came as part of the Motorhead expansion. Each weapon comes with its own style as well as 2 special moves unique to the weapon. Players are able to equip 2 weapons at a time and with the tap of a button, can switch between them which allows for tactical play and adds a layer of depth to the gameplay. This can be incredibly satisfying to use, going from slashing your way through a horde of skeletons with a scythe before switching to a shotgun to blast away a wraith and quickly switching back to the scythe feels very slick and cool.
As players level up, certain base stats are improved automatically such as health and armour but with each level increase, players are given a choice of 3 bonuses. These can range from destiny cards which increase stats further or offer buffs and bonuses to weapons or overdrive cards. This means that players are able to customise their character further as they progress meaning that in PVP or multiplayer, each character will be different. This is needed as making every player the same character is a risky move, but enough has been done to allow players to individualise themselves and play with a style that works for them.
Victor Vran also has an interesting map system, with the map being broken up into individual areas, each with their own challenges. These areas must be reached before they are unlocked and can then be accessed from the world map. Each stage has 5 stars available, with each star equalling a different challenge and offering a range of rewards such as experience or gold. The areas are short and sweet meaning it doesn’t feel like a chore to redo an area a few times to hit those elusive stars as it is often not possible to hit them in 1 go. The challenges range from killing a certain amount of enemies with a specific weapon, killing enemies without taking damage, or killing enemies with hex cards equipped. Hex cards are 5 cards that make the game more challenging but in return, offer greater rewards. There are 5 in total which can be turned on or off at any time and the effects range from making monsters stronger, depleting Victors health or making monsters faster. These add yet another element to the game and I felt really made me want to have ‘one more go’ in order to get those trickier stars.
Victor Vran is a great deal of fun to play and despite having a lot of mechanics to learn, is relatively user friendly. In my time reviewing Victor Vran, I put around 20 hours in and feel like I am only just scratching the surface. I may be towards the end of the story but the challenges are addictive and fun and I’m positive I will spend many more hours trying to get all of the stars across Zagoravia and that’s before I even start to dig in to the expansions. Victor Vran is not without its flaws, the back and forth between Victor and The Voice is great fun but can feel very grating at times and when starting an area, there will often be some dialogue from the main pair which is repeated every time the area is replayed. This may not seem like a big deal but due to the challenges and the focus on replaying levels, this becomes incredibly annoying and more than once I found myself listening to music with the game on mute just to avoid hearing the same line of dialogue for the tenth time. The over-serious voice acting doesn’t help; Victor is voiced by the same actor as Geralt of The Witcher fame but where Geralt was occasionally humorous and partook in banter, Victor does not…..he is just moody and serious to an almost laughable level. Another area I felt could have been improved are the variation of enemies that are fought. There are colour and difficulty variations between them but I feel in my 20-or-so hours, all I have killed is skeletons, spiders or ghosts. A little more variation in the enemy types would have gone a long way to making the game feel a little less repetitive; this said, I haven’t spent an extended amount of time on the expansions so this may open up new enemies to fight.
Overall Victor Vran brings little new to the genre but none the less, is a lot of fun to play. It is accessible to new players but I feel is difficult to master and the expansions will keep you interested for a long time. The overly serious tone of Victor and the constant jokes of The Voice take are laughable at times and it feels like the game takes itself a little too seriously at times but this is minor on the grand scheme of things. Definitely worth a look for fans of the genre.