Occasionally, a game comes along that tries to sell itself on its classical ‘sword and sorcery’ chops. Since the heyday of gaming, there have been countless titles that fall into this category, not to mention several straight up named after the genre. Victor Vran is a game which very much falls into the category of sword and sorcery. You’re on a personal quest for glory, you have magical powers and there is at least one sword and one sorcery at all times.
Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is a re-release of a game from 2015 with updated graphics and a bunch of new content, and this release also sees the game on consoles for the first time. The new DLCs bundled with the game are huge and are basically whole new campaigns to play through. Because of this, it will be easier if we split the game up into its 3 pieces and review them separately, instead of trying to tackle the entire thing as a whole.
Victor Vran (base game)
The first thing that pops into your mind when booting up Victor Vran is, “Hey, isn’t this Diablo?”. The second thing will probably be, “Why is the main character basically Geralt?”, followed swiftly by, “He seriously needs a manicure,”.
As you can probably tell by my above comments, Victor Vran isn’t the most original game out there. Despite that it does a lot of things right and has more going for it than simply being a pretty good version of Diablo starring Geralt from The Witcher series.
The story concerns the antics (read: heroic-ishness) of Victor Vran, a member of a monster hunting order (I promise this isn’t The Witcher, honest) called the ‘Hunters’. This group is constantly being called into a town which is overrun by demons, and none of them are coming back out again. When one of Victor’s friends ends up going, he decides to follow him and possibly rescue him from whatever is making people stay there.
Combat is very similar to Diablo with a little MMO style thrown in. You change your basic attacks by swapping between a variety of weapons and have special unlockable powers that can do heavy damage. There is also a great focus on loot, meaning that you constantly come across equipment for various reasons and will probably have to spend a long time going through it all to decide if you want to swap out your current weapons for versions with slightly better stats.
There are several maps to explore during the game, and while you have to go to certain ones to progress through the story, you are never forced to do so. You can pretty much explore anywhere you like from the get go, with a few level capped exceptions. This presents a lot of freedom to the player and makes it a bit less repetitive than simply constantly following the game’s directions the whole time. Within the larger maps, there are also smaller dungeons to crawl through, some of which become selectable from the main map screen once you’ve completed them. This is a nice feature that makes it much easier to go back and play through the dungeon crawls again at your own leisure.
Each of these maps and dungeons has special challenges that you can complete for more loot, EXP or gold. These challenges range from things like ‘kill 100 enemies in 2 minutes’ to ‘don’t take any damage’ and everything in between. These challenges often produce huge rewards and are well worth completing for the sheer amount of money/EXP/loot that you get each time.
You may be saying, ‘This is all well and good, but so far this just sounds pretty standard’. Well, you’re right, the actual gameplay and world I have described thus far are pretty standard fare for an isometric ARPG in a sword and sorcery setting. Strangely, it’s the game’s humour that gives it an interesting edge on other titles.
Rarely in a game with a fantasy setting do you get a lot of humour, unless the game is a straight up parody. With Victor Vran there is a definite comedic edge that accompanies the storyline without the storyline turning into a parody of itself. While you’re battling monsters and demons, there is a constant voice in your head which likes to call you Vikki and spews out references to just about anything in the world you can imagine. Within the first few hours of gameplay, there had already been references to both The Stanley Parable and Skyrim, and yes, the latter came in the form of an arrow to the knee joke.
While the game’s comedy stylings are nothing to write home about, they do manage to give the game an edge, something which makes it feel different from and more interesting than a lot of the other games with which it shares similarities. You’ll probably end up grinding your way through countless hordes of monsters and loot just to hear what the voice in your head is going to say next, and this time you won’t be carted off to the little white room for it.
Victor Vran: Fractured Worlds
In the Fractured Worlds DLC, you play as Victor trying to get rid of his demonic powers because he regrets making deals with demons to get them. While the fact that he made deals with demons may sound spoiler-worthy, it actually isn’t. It’s mentioned pretty much immediately in the opening cinematic of the main game. To rid yourself of this demonic burden, you must find and fix a magical device which has been broken and scattered across various different worlds, journeying literally through several dimensions to track these pieces down.
There isn’t much different here gameplay-wise, not only is all of the combat the same, but you also get to carry across your equipment and experience from the main game. This is good because the one thing that is different is how powerful the enemies are. As you enter the first area in the DLC, you are warned that you should probably be at least level 20 before trying to tackle these maps, and the game isn’t joking about that.
The waves of enemies are much larger here, and there are countless ‘champion’ style enemies with glowing gold auras and more health than their regular counterparts. While it is technically possible to get through these areas on a lower level, it isn’t recommended. It is very easy to get ganged up on and overwhelmed, leading to you burning through your supply of healing potions.
Apart from an increase of difficulty, there isn’t much changed from the main game here. The biggest difference is the pure variety of different level designs, something which wasn’t exactly lacking in the main game. Because this DLC is set in different dimensions, you can have one level (actually two levels) be on floating platforms in the sky, and the next will be set in a world of constant autumn.
These new level designs are interesting at first, but once you’ve seen them, that’s basically all it has to offer other than more maps to loot your way through. While having more content is certainly not a bad thing, there was a definite chance missed to have something ground-breaking here.
Victor Vran: Motörhead Through the Ages
It might come as no shock to some of you reading this, but the best part of this entire package has been saved for the last. Motörhead Through the Ages is an amazing piece of DLC and a stunning tribute to one of the most famous metal bands in history. In fact, tonally there really couldn’t be a better match between these two.
The story follows Victor being called into ‘the bar between worlds’ to help Lemmy, whose famous creation called ‘Snaggletooth’ has fallen into a deep slumber after constantly battling an undead demon army being fronted by Hitler. Yes, you read that correctly.
The story basically chronicles Victor’s battles with said undead army and Hitler’s various demonic creations and minions, such as an evil version of Snaggletooth and a demon train. Along the way, you meet classic icons like Lemmy himself, as well as the aforementioned Snaggletooth, and must do your best to stop Hitler from overrunning everything.
The only words that can be used to describe this entire scenario is ‘Metal as Fuck’, and the sword and sorcery style of the main game goes hand in hand with that. The soundtrack is full of famous Motörhead tracks, and they all go really well with the slaying of countless demonic hordes and flaming dogs.
As well as the world being constantly on fire and set in slightly more modern surroundings, there is a slew of new weapon types and challenges made just for this DLC. You can now use guitars to trash your way to victory, as well as the inclusion of dual wielding revolvers. You also get new demonic powers to unleash, the best of which is the giant chain with an amp on it that electrocutes everything in its vicinity.
As you slaughter your way through the story, accompanied by the awesome music, you will also come across strange glowing monoliths. These represent other metal heroes who have slaughtered many demons, and they spawn wave after wave of enemies to fight, giving you tonnes of loot if you win. These monoliths also all have their own music, giving each one a unique way in which to head bang while you murder succubi and skeletons in German army helmets.
This entire thing feels like it has been taken directly from a metal album cover and is possibly one of the most awesome things that has come out so far this year. The feeling you get while playing will take you back to a time when metal music videos featured horrifically, inaccurately proportioned people doing battle with demons from beyond your worst nightmares, and it will kick ass.
Developer: Haemimont Games
Publisher: Wired Productions
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 6th June 2017