There are whispers on the wind that your fellow hunters have been called to a besieged city only to never return. That demons, monsters, and creatures that send shivers down your spine have ransacked and terrorized those still holed up in the area. Adrian, a fellow hunter and one of the very few you call friend ventured to that godforsaken place and recently a letter has arrived from him, calling you to Zagoravia. You are Victor Vran, hunter, and it’s time to kill some monsters.
Originally released on Steam back in July of 2015, then on PS4 and Xbox One in 2017, and now coming to the Nintendo Switch in 2018 in this Overkill Edition, which bundles in all the Fractured Worlds and Motorhead Through the Ages DLC.
Zagoravia, the tormented town you are working to save, is divided into individual levels where you will find additional dungeons and routes that will unlock additional areas. Each area comes with specific goals that you can work to complete that will reward you with additional experience, money, and loot chests. These goals can be a simple as killing x amount of a specific creature to restricting your use of skills, potions, or the like for a certain amount of time or number of kills in that area. These little quests gave me just enough incentive to wander around and explore each area a bit longer in an attempt to complete areas. You are also able to reset your every area’s progress, which I found to help in the loot and level grind.
Victor Vran plays akin to a game like Diablo, adopting a fast-paced hack-n-slash combat system that people can expect from an Action-RPG title. Utilizing dodge rolls and well-timed skill use and specials as you strive to collect better loot to improve your version of Vran. Weapons and other gear adopt a similar rarity system that gives loot increasing stats and power the higher in rarity the item is, a mainstay in the loot-fest genre.
The combat in Victor Vran has you running around dodging enemy attacks from all sides as you hurl back attacks of your own. How attacks are handled are the biggest departures from the genre’s norms, with each of the 10 weapon types each having three unique attacks that the player can use. One is your standard attack with the other two being special attacks that are tied to cooldowns.
Two weapons can be equipped and swapped between at any given time, giving you access to six basic attacks. You can further bolster your arsenal with two additional Demon Powers whose uses are tied to your Overdrive bar, a resource that is gathered in various ways, and two consumable items. Both the consumables (five bomb types, five potion types, and three medkits) and demon powers (19 powers) are drops and rewards that you will come across while you play.
The concept of classes are also gone in Victor Vran, in its place are a variety of different outfits that Victor can wear. Unfortunately, the primary purpose of these is to alter the way that Victor generates his overdrive resource that is used to power his demon abilities. These outfits can be improved through the use of the transmutation system, but instead of feeling like an important defining aspect of your character, they come off as just another piece of swappable gear.
Victor himself is extremely limited when it comes to equipment slots, having only his two weapons, his outfit, and a spot to equip his talisman. All deeper equipment tweaking comes through the use of the Destiny Card mechanic which will allow you to improve other aspects of your personal Victor from reducing the cooldown of skills or causing a giant frost explosion when landing a critical hit. There are 37 different cards with cards having a Divine and Wicked version that adds additional effects. Each card comes with a point cost that is dependant on the rarity and power of that specific card.
As you go up in level, up to the level cap of 60, you will recieve the choice of one of three different rewards and a specific stat boost or additional slots in which to equip weapons, cards, or powers that are level specific. As an example, at level 4 you will unlock the ability to carry a second weapon while at level 13 your max health will increase by 300. I found during my play that leveling seemed to take a little longer than it should, finding that I started getting impatient as I waited to unlock gameplay features such as transmutation to improvement and craft gear (unlocked at level 16) or unlocked hexes (level 12) that allow you to augment your difficulty to improve item drops and experience gained.
From a presentation standpoint, the visuals and voice acting won’t be winning any awards for monumental achievement in the field of video games, but they still do a nice job of presenting an interesting eldrich, mixed with Victorian steampunk, atmosphere. The standout is Victor, voiced by none other than Doug Cockle, who you may recognize as another grizzled hunter of monsters, the Witcher Geralt of Rivia. If you were to close your eyes and listen to his lines, you really wouldn’t be able to tell that you weren’t listening to a Witcher game. The rest of the voice acting leaves a bit to be desired, with voices ranging from uninspired to rather grating. The voice that will speak to Victor as you explore the various areas acting as a forced comic-relief I found particularly cringy.
The game runs well in both handheld mode and docked. I didn’t experience any noticeable slowdown while playing. It remained a consistent 60fps even when the screen was flooded with attack effects and creepy-crawlies. I was able to play a bit of the online multiplayer and the game performed well there too!
I see a lot of potential in the Victor Vran world for a strong Action-RPG series with many strong systems in place here but are hindered by a lack of options currently. I found the concept of the Destiny Cards to be something special but after some time, I found myself coming to realize they acted as what pants, boots, and other gear would do in other games of the genre. If they were to expand the equipment situation in a sequel, I would love to see the cards be incorporated as an additional system to further customize and tweak your preferred character style in addition to a more fleshed out and traditional equipment system.
Outfits desperately need to be expanded into a full-fledged class system. Each has such a distinct visual flair to them that it quickly becomes a let down that the main purpose they serve is to change how a resource is gained. Perhaps a special buff when using a specific weapon type when equipped with a certain outfit, or even lock one weapon type to be special to each outfit to add more of a unique feel to each outfit. What is present here comes off as a largely missed opportunity.
Each weapon type having its own unique attacks, great idea. Love it. Having each only have three attacks, one of which a standard attack, not great. Much like the Destiny Cards and the outfits, this system has a lot of promise that could be expanded into something magnificent in a sequel. This genre of game’s calling card is customization and player choice. Give each weapon five or six special attacks (separate from the standard attack) and let players swap out or choose the abilities they want. I would happy to lose a handful of different weapon types if it fleshed out and gave all the others more moves and options.
For all my qualms I may have with Victor Vran: Overkill Edtion, I still found myself having a fun time as I slew legions of the undead, spiders, and spirits. Dodge-rolling out of danger, leaping over walls to discover hidden areas were always rewarding and scratched that loot-fest itch. At the time of this review, you can snag the Switch version for about $40 and the PS4/XboxOne/PC version of the Overkill Edition for between $20 and $30. As a budget Action-RPG, this series has a lot of potential which I hope it will tap into should a sequel be made. In the meantime, if you are in the mood for a different Action-RPG that isn’t Diablo or Path of Exile, give Victor Vran a try.
This game was reviewed on a Nintendo Switch system with a review code provided by PR representative of the title.