Victor Vran: Overkill Edition
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on PC and Microsoft Xbox One
Loot-based dungeon crawlers are extremely popular on PC and not too surprisingly also on console if the developers are able to adequately port them across - a case in point is the fantastic Diablo III Reaper of Souls released on console back in 2014. Sadly though for console gamers looking to get a piece of such sweet loot-driven traditionally PC only RPGs, pickings have been slim. All that seems to have changed with the introduction of the particularly Windows 10-like Xbox One and the similarly architected PS4; as a result we are now seeing more and more being quickly and lovingly ported across. Such titles include the aforementioned Diablo III, the Van Helsing titles, Tides of Numenera, Torchlight as well as the forthcoming Pillars of Eternity and Path of Exile. It’s a good time for lounge gamers to get stuck into some of the most beloved PC RPGs as their following on PC is in most cases very much warranted. This brings us nicely to Victor Vran.
Originally released in 2015 to solid reviews, this action RPG is brought to us by a team ever so slightly smaller than the Blizzard team that created the much loved Diablo III. Haemimont Games, the small Bulgarian developers responsible for the Tropico series have managed, with Victor Vran to produce a fantastic action adventure which has been ported across with no noticeable degradations to both the Xbox One and PS4. We’ve taken a look at this one on the PS4. The console release not only contains the base game, but also includes the available DLC; these include the incredibly random Motorhead expansion pack, containing within three new Motorhead-inspired worlds and some new enemies. The second DLC is the Fractured Worlds pack which provides generated dungeons which change daily (think Rifts in Diablo) and a level cap over the base game. As a base package for a console gamer this represents some great value, more akin to a Game of the Year release of a popular title than a simple dodgy PC port.
Victor Vran is pretty much Van Helsing in all but name, voiced by none other than our beloved friend Geralt of Rivia (real name Doug Cockle) and plays out in traditional top-down, twin stick action RPG glory. Set in a world besieged city of a Zagoravia, Victor is a demon hunter who, after some light convincing, sets out to help its inhabitants fight off a demon infestation of unknown origin. The city is a mess, with half-collapsed buildings, raging fires and general chaos everywhere, with demons destroying everything in their path. As you begin, Victor starts with basic weapons and initial customisation doesn’t go that far beyond his outfit. As you progress through the early stages and pick up the gameplay systems in place though, you quickly see that this action RPG is going to throw a lot of variable loot at you, allowing you to continually customise your character and in turn play style as you progress. The weapon variety is excellent and messing around with the various combinations will give you slightly different gameplay experiences, thus allowing experimentation and enhancing the depth of the gameplay somewhat. Added to this are demon powers, of which you start with one which is activated on a cooldown, moving up to a set of two at any time. There are many different options for these one to two power slots, each of which has a variety of levels associated. This feature again enhances and/or changes your build setup which in turn directly influences the way you play the game. Overdrive is yet another feature which is best described as an accruing power up gauge which builds as you slay demons and overdrive powers the demon powers. The speed at which your overdrive gauge builds can be influenced by the changeable outfits which can be acquired throughout the game. Outfits are something that isn’t broken down into respective pieces but are purchased as a single unit, and equipped as such, some of which have fantastic passive bonuses which are always active. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough variance for you, there are destiny cards and as you rank up you can have five of these bad boys active at any one given time. Destiny cards aren’t like the hugely pointless Grimoire cards in Destiny the game, more like passive bonuses which can be applied to your build. Destiny cards include health steals, general health bonuses, ranged defence, melee defence and so on. As these cards have varying levels too, there really is great variety in assembling that killer build and when you add these into the mix, already having the ability to equip various weapons, demon powers, consumables and outfits, what at first seems like a simple Diablo clone shows its full true colours and has some real depth to it.
For a game made by a small studio, Victor Vran looks and plays very nicely indeed, with good overall graphical presentation neatly depicting a nightmarish land ravished with all manner of demons, along with a generally surprising level of great animations and eye-popping effects littered across the screen. The game also admirably targets a solid 60fps and at times succeeds in this endeavour. Unfortunately however the custom engine struggles under the weight of the action on the screen if there is a lot to contend with, and framerate dips occur. As this is the case for the majority of the game, the problem becomes more pronounced and can at times be a little jarring. That said though in the grand scheme of things it never dips to a point where the game becomes unplayable and you get used to it.
The jump across to consoles has done Victor Vran no harm at all and nicely opened up the game to an audience that otherwise would never have played it. An excellent action romp across a solid variety of locations, filling the screen with enough severed limbs and exploding heads to satisfy as twin stick action fan, Victor has a lot going for it. Porting across a PC title is no mean feat and controller-mapping this type of quick action RPG is easy to get wrong. The move from mouse and keyboard to joypad however is something that Victor Vran takes in its stride. UI is easy to navigate, Victor’s reactions on the screen are quick (thanks to the attempted 60fps constant) and all weapons and powers are logically mapped across the console’s pad. Such competent controller mapping makes the title very much a pick up and play game. Adding to this there is both local and online co op for up to four players - as we all know all too well gaming is universally better when playing with friends in a cooperative fashion and that trend doesn’t change here. Drop-in and drop-out works easily, potentially bringing in some much needed help for that boss battle you just cannot nail on your own.
There are some negatives of course, with the main one being how repetitive it can feel at times. Moving from area to area without constantly tweaking your build can result in hearing the same sound effects and seeing the same action on the screen over and over - it’s a fairly minor gripe but a valid one all the same.
Victor Vran is an excellent port of a solid Diablo clone combining solid 60fps (ish) dungeon crawling with some heavily action-oriented demon-slaying gameplay. The move from PC to console is spot on and now a whole new set of gamers get to enjoy a game that has both the voice of Geralt of Rivia and shooting demons in the face with a shotgun...what more could you want?