July 27, 2015 9:21 PM | Sean Flint
Silly me. For some reason, Victor Vran has slipped under my game radar for the past few months of its Early Access run. Luckily, with the recent full-release of the game, I've been introduced to its loot-filled and darkly humorous world, and I couldn't be happier. Victor Vran is an isometric action-RPG that manages to add some interesting mechanics and bring some much-needed changes to the genre to make for an interesting and unique experience.
Victor Vran puts you in the shoes of none other as it tasks you with hunting demons. I must admit, I was initially under the impression that Victor was a poor man's Van Helsing, and after seeing the game's sense of humor, I feel that I was pretty spot on. One of the biggest strengths of Victor Vran is that very same sense of humor, which manages to keep the game from drifting into that grim territory that we see with other titles in the genre. The fantastic narrator constantly talks down to you and second-guesses your every move, which provides some very funny sequences that break up the story and gameplay. While I cannot give an example at the risk of spoiling it, just know that the narrator will often make you do silly things just to laugh at you once you perform the task.
The most important part of any action-RPG is its combat system, and luckily, Victor Vran's combat system is fantastic. At the beginning of the game, you are able to choose your control scheme, and decide whether you'd like to move with the mouse or WASD. I'd highly recommend choosing WASD, as it really does a lot to make the game feel fresh, and allows you to perform some really cool movements during combat that I feel wouldn't be possible if you were just moving with the mouse.
An interesting aspect of movement that was added would be the ability to jump. In many ARPGS, we find ourselves unable to jump over small obstacles, which definitely doesn't help immersion. Taking this a step further, you can use this jump to bounce from wall-to-wall to reach hidden chests and secret areas. Wall-jumping, while it doesn't always work as well as I'd like, really adds a nice twist to the gameplay, and helps to differentiate Victor Vran from its competitors.
In terms of its combat system, the game is fairly simplistic. There are different weapon types, each with their own abilities that you can use. These abilities take the place of what would typically be your class abilities, meaning that you can quickly change the way you fight by swapping out your weapons. After gaining a few levels, you'll have the ability to equip more than one type of weapon that you can easily switch between during combat, ensuring that you are always ready for what any encounter may bring.
Stat bonuses in Victor Vran are handled through its Destiny Card system. These cards are collected through drops or purchased at vendors, and each feature a buff such as extra crit damage or more armor. You begin with a certain amount of destiny points, which increase as you level up. Each card requires a certain amount of points to use, so the higher level you are, the more powerful destiny cards you will be able to equip. I feel that this system is a nice way to get some passive stat boosts, and there are definitely some difficult choices to be made as a result of the cards being well-balanced.
While you are allowed to choose difficulty in Victor Vran, the game really goes into detail allowing you to customize the amount of challenge that you would like to face. Through the use of hexes, you will be able to add specific modifiers to your difficulty, such as stronger enemies, less health, and quicker foes. Each of these hexes will provide you with a bonus such as more gold or item drops, and will make the game more difficult if you're finding it too easy. This system reminds me a lot of how Bastion handled difficulty, and I think it's a really interesting way to allow players to tailor the game to their own skill level.
As we all know, ARPGS are best played with friends. Victor Vran allows up to 4 player co-op, so that you can bring friends along in your hunt for demons, loot, and glory. The networking seemed to run extremely smooth during my time playing with friends, and I never had any connection issues. While it is a bit tedious to invite players to your game, as you're not allowed to do so through Steam's interface, it's definitely worth the few extra clicks. Victor Vran is fantastic on its own, but the inclusion of multiplayer makes the game even more entertaining and adds some extra replay value that fans typically expect from this genre. There are even plans to add local co-op in the future, which I think would be a really great idea.
Victor Vran is a fantastic action-RPG, plain and simple. After playing the game through, it's easy to say that I'll be back for more. While the story, enemies, and environments are nothing new, the gameplay and humor gives the game just enough to stand out among the crowd. The narrator comments on your movements, and creates some moments that are just plain hilarious. Victor Vran does not take itself seriously whatsoever, but the combat, upgrades, and loot in the game make it one that you should seriously be considering.
Victor Vran is now available on Steam for $19.99.