Victor Vran: Overkill Edition (Xbox One Review)
As far as ARPGs go, there’s a particular formula that’s ever present, and that’s kill, loot, kill. Rinse and repeat. The loot collecting is an especially addictive part of that habit-forming process that hooks our brain on an non-stop rewarding binge of compensation for time spent invested in that game; a sort of pyramid scheme, with swords. And Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is one such culprit–enslaving gamers hours at a time to keep on grinding, finding better loot only to find out that said loot unlocks more avenues to get even more loot, and it’s oh-so gratifying.
Victor Vran sets the stage in a fantasy gothic setting full of vampires and ghouls– a love letter to Bram Stoker’s Dracula universe– with Victor Vran being the fateful hunter that must lay rest to these weary souls. The city of Zagoravia is plagued by a curse that sees all manner of creatures spill from the Well of Worlds, a dimensional gate that can tear the fabric of one reality to the next, forcing Victor and various other hunters step forward and try take back the city of Zagoravia and seal the gate once more.
Though the story of Victor Vran has an alluring start, it pales over time compared to most other ARPGs. Characters mutter a few lines here and there with very assertive and concise lines of dialogue, as to not ramble on more than needed and then it’s off to kill things. Any information that the player needs or exposition that must be unraveled is communicated by an enigmatic voice that speaks to Victor through some form of telepathy. It’s never really explained, and mostly jaunts on about nonsensical matters or blurts out a wisecrack or joke–only to have them fail painfully flat, as a few are intended to do so. Granted there isn’t much story to be had but that’s not really Victor Vran’s allure.
As you’d probably expect from a top down ARPG, there will be lots of mobs to kill and powers at the player’s disposal to dispense said mobs; nothing out of the ordinary. But what is unusual is the exemption of a class system. Usually, you’d expect a list of suitable archetypes to choose from, be it your bruisers or your bustlers. However, Victor Vran has rolled them all into one. The player character –Victor Vran of course–is a jack of all trades, master of everything kinda bloke. Able to wield any weapon and accommodate any scenario given the right equipment set, nothing is off limits. Swords, spells, scientific machinery, he can work it all. And with the combat being so prevalent in Victor Vran, it’s just as well he can.
Fighting in Victor Vran is a dance between weapon sets and Victor’s Demonic Powers. Slaying foes is as satisfying as any late ARPG, be it Diablo, Torchlight or even Dungeon Siege, with the former being a more accurate reflection on Victor Vran’s combat system; precise, yet haphazard-ish. With monsters coming at you from all directions, it can be a bit difficult to understand what is going on at times considering the varying buffs and debuffs that can take effect, monster weakness and strengths, weapon combinations and your quickly diminishing health bar. The player’s main focus, arguably, is building and maintaining their Overdrive meter, which is in essence a rage meter. Once filled, Victor can unleash one of many Demonic Powers that tip the edge of battle in Victor’s favour–with some simple ones that rain meteors from the sky to more crowd-controllers such as the Loudspeaker from Hell that encourages weaker foes to dance on the spot. Whatever your fancy, there’s plenty to go around with over 15 Demonic powers, 8 weapon types and a plethora of Destiny Cards,all with differing rarities,you’ll be hard pressed to run out of options.
As I mentioned above, Destiny Cards are another tool in Victor Vran’s toolbelt of destruction. These playing cards are Victor’s passive buffs that can be equipped in belt slots as you progressively level up. Not very many of them are as exciting as any of the active buffs you get with weapons, but there are plenty of them to offer up variances on Victor’s static class layout. Mix and match your cards to suit how you play. Opt for a combination of The Runner (increased movement speed), The Beast (armor penetration) and The Rouge (increased crit hit chance) to create and fast and agile damage dealer. And there’s far more combinations to choose from.
You can even reroll items or gamble them for new ones through Transmutation, a process of combining items to create new ones or level up the rarity on existing ones. Saving you the hassle of buying them or crossing your fingers for a lucky drop.
Throughout Victor’s campaign against the scourge, he will travel to numerous locations, although not all of them are as diverse as the last. Since most the game takes place in and around the city of Zagoravia, the majority of stages are either streets, houses and the occasional cave. Some more expansive than others, acting as a sort of merging hub for other smaller stages to attach too. Though the majority of the stages will whisk you by in a second, they are rather detailed and nice on the eyes. And the same can be said for the enemies, though what they boast in appearance they, surprisingly lack in distinction. For long portions of the game, you’ll be fighting the same old spiders and skeletons and be begging for new challenges, and even when newer foes do step out from the shadows, they more or less become walking tanks. Bullet and blade sponges that take ages to whittle down, sending your desire for diversity to be a wish well forgotten.
The encouragement that the developers, Haeimimont Games, place on the player to continually delve into the combat of Victor Vran is rather unneeded. It’s a solid and fun experience all round. However, they have gone and added a number of challenges to each stage on Victor Vran’s campaign. These simple challenges range from getting so many kills, to finding secrets and even timed ones for particular cases. The difficulty ramps up on later stages as the inclusion of Hexes takes precedence–modifiers that hamper the player character by constantly sucking their health pool, reinforcing the enemies with armor and health and even making them move faster and hit harder.Regardless, it was these challenges that had me coming back for more as each one would offer a sum of gold, EXP, or items for me to gather.
If you felt that Victor was the lone wolf type then you’d be right, as he often tells other hunters to mind their own business as he can handle himself. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t like the company; in fact he prefers his own company to be more exact, as players can play online with four of their friend, each one taking on the role of Victor respective to their own world. Or if you don’t have an internet connection or you’d rather just slump over on the couch with a mate then Victor Vran allows for local play too. However, playing online lets players roam freely as if they were in their own game world. One player can undertake a challenge in one level while another can continue with their own story progression. It’s not very cooperative, but hey, it’s an option. On the note of non-cooperation, The Freakshow Carnival, once discovered, lets players battle it out on stage to see who is the tougher Van Helsing wannabe.
And finally, if all that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, then you’ll be glad to know that Victor Vran: Overkill Edition comes with all its previously released DLC wrapped into one neat package. The Motörhead Through the Ages and Fractured Worlds DLCs are both included andt offer up their own story line, equipment, challenges. An awesome soundtrack takes centre stage for the Motörhead DLC too. DLC equipment is included in the main campaign too. Players, once leveled, gain access to the Cauldron of Chaos: a randomly generated dungeon that grants daily rewards to those tough enough to undertake it.
It’s safe to say that there is a lot included in Victor Vran: Overkill Edition. Whether you’re playing through the story solo or with a friend, there is plenty to keep you occupied. Even if you don’t get around to doing very little thing, there’s well over 50 hours of gameplay here if you’re determined to stick around. The only downsides I could really see with my time playing Victor Vran was some intermittent framerate issues when mobs became to plentiful, forcing the game to slow down and at one time completely cut out all the audio. That, and the story has much to be desired. However, Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is a must buy for any top-down ARPG lover.