Isometric RPGs are somewhat niche. The likes of Diablo and, more recently, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing tailored themselves to this style of play; for them, it worked very well for the most part, at least. Another game that followed this path was Victor Vran back in 2015 on Steam. Players have had to wait an extra couple of years before the title made its way onto Xbox, but it is now ours to play as we wish. The question is, was it worth the wait for us?
Victor Vran tells the tale of none other than Victor Vran, a hunter who has come to the land of Zagoravia in order to thwart the presence of demons, as well as complete his own personal mission. It's your typical fantasy-esque affair — nothing that is particularly engaging from a storytelling perspective, but rather it is the gameplay that this RPG utilises to retain its audience. If nothing else, the story sets a decent context for why demons dwell in this cursed city and why Victor himself has travelled there.
Any Witcher fan will also immediately be familiar with the voice of Victor. Doug Cockle, the voice behind the grizzly Geralt of Rivia, has the pleasure of voicing yet another protagonist. Due to the fact that Victor shares the exact same voice of Geralt, one can't help but be reminded of the White Wolf every time he speaks. That aside, Victor isn't particularly special. If anything, he shares Geralt's own lack of emotion and is purely there to get the job done, despite any emotional entanglements that may attempt to slow him down along the way. The core of Victor Vran is going through dungeons and slaying demons, and fortunately that is its greatest strength.
The world map lets you choose from the currently available dungeons, while also allowing you to return to any previously completed ones as many times as you wish. Each one is littered with hundreds of enemies of varying designs and strengths for Victor to obliterate, as well as specific challenges to complete for rewards. These challenges may come in the form of something like "Defeat X enemies with a Rapier" or "Kill this unique enemy with a ranged attack". They're worth pursuing for extra rewards like a boost in XP or a new weapon, but if you don't complete them, you don't really miss out on much. Simply playing through each dungeon, slaughtering enemies and making it to the end, is a joy in itself. The addictive quality the game possesses causes that enjoyment to remain, so every dungeon you enter is a fun challenge when given the chance to completely let loose.
Zagoravia isn't the happiest of places to visit...
Every so often, specific dungeons will have a boss for you to tackle. These are unique encounters that will require a little more strategy than unleashing chaos on the 50 enemies on-screen. Some are more memorable than others, such as a demon-possessed train called Orgasmatron (yes, really) that screeches across train tracks to kill you, whereas others amount to larger and more deadlier versions of regular enemies. Despite this they still add to the fun factor of any given dungeon and help to amplify the pleasure of your maniacal killing spree.
You'll want to be fully prepared for each dungeon that you encounter, so Victor Vran has a multitude of options for offence and defence. Depending on your playstyle, you can choose from various hammers, guns, tomes, swords, scythes and a number of other weapon types. Each type of weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, so using the crushing life steal ability of a hammer will help to keep you from death's door when a horde of enemies ambushes you. On the other hand, a powerful lightning gun will have you raining hell on everything before it even manages to reach you. Each weapon feels powerful when upgraded to its full potential and spamming ability after ability is a delight when romping through dungeons.
Accompanying the weapons are various accessories, the most noticeable of which is your outfit. Throughout your time in Zogaravia and the other worlds, you will unlock a few different outfits for Victor. Apart from changing his immediate appearance, each provides different benefits for certain situations. Primarily, they are beneficial for your Overdrive. When this bar is filled, you can use one of your two demon powers. Like your weapons, these can be combined with your offensive tactics to help crush the opposition. There are many different demon powers from which to choose, but much of it comes down to personal preference and what gives you the edge. They definitely help to keep the game's combat at its best while looking visually appealing in the process.
Venture into a world of electric guitar monuments and seductive demon queens and save the soul of Snaggletooth!
The final major part of your arsenal is destiny cards. In the same vein as outfits, these provide various benefits and buffs when equipped. Anything from health increases, causing explosions when hitting enemies and dealing more damage when equipping a hammer is available, so it's well worth keeping track of these. You are limited to a specific amount depending on your current destiny points, though, so you won't be able to equip all of your most powerful cards at once. When combined, all of these elements are complex enough, yet still very simply to understand and apply to your own experience of the game.
If you have the Overkill edition of the game, or have forked over some extra cash for the two expansions, Zagoravia isn't your only port of call. Victor Vran also has two other adventures to experience. "Motörhead: Through the Ages" is an unusual one that is themed around the aforementioned rock band, taking you through more demon infested dungeons. It is essentially more of the same in relation to the main campaign, albeit a bit shorter and more lighthearted in its writing.
The third and final world on offer is the "Fractured Worlds" expansion. This one, again, takes the basic formula and uses it in a new context, but it works a little differently. Acting as high level content, Victor will be travelling to a number of areas and taking on never-ending, procedurally generated challenges. Rather than presenting a set number of pre-determined dungeons, the few available areas bombard you with increasingly difficult dungeons one after the other until you perish or take a break. It has its own story, but your skills and gear are put to the ultimate test, while also being rewarded with a hefty amount of loot.
Bosses are just another excuse to unleash your inner demon slayer.
The main campaign is just about big enough on its own, but with the addition of "Motörhead: Through the Ages" and "Fractured Worlds", there is a lot to explore. Each of these two expansions gives the game a lot of extra content and longevity. Whichever of these campaigns you choose, each one has its own hub where you can buy, sell and upgrade gear, talk to NPCs and prepare for the next round of demon slaying. The rest of your time will be spent crawling through the many dungeons on offer.
Multiplayer is an alternative way to play Victor Vran if you don't want to go alone. You can either play locally with a friend or join them online. Teaming up with random players is also an option and it's very easy to do so. Depending on whether you prefer team or solo play, the game does very well in supporting both options. Ploughing through enemies with a bunch of other people is a sight to behold, but you shouldn't worry if you are always on your own. Apart from a couple of occasions, the game doesn't constantly overwhelm an unsuspecting solo player; if that does happen, combining your skills and weaponry is usually enough to pull you through.
While not having any persistent bugs, Victor Vran did suddenly start to suffer from incredible lag on two separate sessions. Whether it was in fact lag or an actual game crash is uncertain, but the only remedy to the problem was to close the game and reload. This was a nuisance as it did mean going through the dungeon all over again. Fortunately, not too much progress was lost so if this does happen to you, there isn't reason to panic on a large scale.
If you manage to get hold of a lightning gun, you'll want to use it.
From an achievement standpoint, you will have your work cut out with this title. While the base game has 50 achievements to make up 1,000G, the two expansions bring in a combined 40 extra achievements, tallying up the total to 90. Whether you have all the content or not, you will need to complete everything to its fullest. That includes challenges, levelling up and even playing the game's hardcore mode. There are plenty of other achievements thrown in that are tied to performing specific tasks as well, so don't expect your time here as an achievement hunter to be quick or especially easy.
SummaryVictor Vran is a title that initially feels like it's going to be more indie fodder but is much more than that. Despite the voice actors that were used, underneath a relatively bland story lies extremely addictive and highly enjoyable gameplay. Utilising all the weapons and accessories at your disposal regularly yields fantastic results, and unleashing your fury on the hordes of enemies that swarm the screen never gets old. Facing off against the bosses scattered throughout the dungeon also adds an extra layer of challenge. The addition of online play and two expansions provides even more content for the game, so there's an abundance of stuff to enjoy. While the game does suffer from the odd technical problem, it's still worth a look for dungeon crawler and RPG fans alike.
- Plenty of content
- Highly enjoyable and addictive gameplay
- Lots of variety in weaponry, gear and accessories
- Easily accessible online play for those who want it
- Fairly bland story and characters
- Occasional lag
EthicsThe reviewer spent 13 hours playing through the three available worlds and slaughtering every demon in sight. An Xbox One digital copy of the Overkill edition of the game was provided from ID@Xbox for the purpose of this review.
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