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Game Review: Victor Vran – Overkill Edition (PS4)

Game Review: Victor Vran – Overkill Edition (PS4)
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Game Name: Victor Vran: Overkill Edition
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux
Publisher(s): Haemimont Games / Wired Production / EuroVideo Medien
Developer(s): Haemimont Games
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, RPG, Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: PC: May 30th, 2017 - PS4/Xbox One: June 6th, 2017
ESRB Rating: M - Mature: Blood, Partial Nudity, Strong Lyrics, Violence

Victor Vran is the Diabloesque version of Witcher that I didn’t know I always wanted. Hacking, slashing and blasting elemental beasts, vampires, and giant spiders, with the voice talents of Doug Cockle, who brings the same smooth voice here as he did as Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher trilogy. Victor Vran is one of the most polished dungeon crawlers I’ve played in years, ranking it almost up there with the likes of Diablo 3.

When a fellow hunter goes missing, Victor Vran is tasked with tracking him down. This journey brings him to Zagoravia, a 19th-century city inspired by Eastern Europe. You’ll meet a variety of characters that will ask something of you and you’ll be rewarded with answers about the location of your missing friend. The story itself isn’t terribly great, even at its best, but the mysterious voice that joins you early on is what really makes the game stand out.

Right from the start of the game, Victor is contacted by a voice, calling out to him and somehow is able to talk to Victor throughout the whole journey. While there is a fairly satisfactory resolution to who the voice is, and what he wants from Victor, the real fun of this companion is the jokes and pop culture references that he makes while you go about your demon genocide.

The delay in bringing Victor Vran to consoles allows us to join in on the two expansions that accompany the Overkill Edition; Motorhead: Through the Ages, and Fractured Worlds. The former sees Victor assisting Lemmy, the frontman of the metal band Motorhead. Yup, totally not making that up. To further make the game as metal as it can get, you’ll slaughter demons, scorpions and a variety of creatures to the tunes of the band itself, complete with guitars that will become your weapons. I went through about 95% of the expansion rocking a variety of guitars, plucking the cords to shoot out blasts, or doing a running guitar slide to call down red electrical storms that would fry nearby foes. I almost wish I had gone through the expansion first so that the sweet guitar you get from Lemmy could have assisted me in my main campaign playthrough.

Fractured Worlds is more of a personal journey for Victor than that of the previous two campaigns as Victor looks to seek answers about his demon curse, and you’ll travel to a variety of worlds to collect fractured pieces of an artifact that can give him answers.

The combat in Victor Vran is what keeps the game incredibly engaging, as the 60 fps version on PS4 is silky smooth and makes rolling and dodging a dream. Victor Vran doesn’t have a class system but you are able to equip outfits that look to benefit certain playstyles. You’ll wield a huge variety of weapons that range from swords, hammers, axes, shotguns, mortar’s, lightning guns, scythes, and more. I wasn’t terribly impressed with most of the guns, but once I found a decent damage dealing mortar rifle, ooh, were they fun to use. There are also fencing swords that weren’t my thing, but a very original type of weapon that I don’t think I’ve seen in a dungeon crawler before, let alone any hack and slash game in the last few years. The scythes were really fun to use and I pretty much beat the campaign with one equipped for what seemed like 5-6 hours, I just couldn’t find anything better. What makes each weapon class unique is that each of them comes with completely different sets of attacks, making the game have depth even between two types of swords.

Slashing, rolling, and shooting the various creatures is incredibly fluid and you’ll need to traverse the levels themselves to find new locations that lead to new bosses that in turn lead to getting more loot. This traversal is through a jump system that lets you bounce off walls to reach higher locations. It’s really fun, and it makes me want to see this sort of mechanic return in every other dungeon crawler. It also made me want to explore the world more, spinning the camera around to see if there was a path hidden or some area that I could bounce up to, it became its own game, in a way. I lost track of how many times I could see a chest on another side of a wall and spent upwards to 20 minutes attempting to figure out how to get to it.

The levels themselves are mostly large sprawling areas that are typical of the genre, and while most locations are well designed and offer some hidden locations, the types of environments offered are your standard dungeon crawler fare. You have some broken down city locations, moody lit graveyards, swampy forest areas and all the caves you can shake a stick at. While the levels are fun to explore, especially the indoor ones, none of them really remained memorable once the credits rolled. I will state that the locations in the last half of the Motorhead add-on are some of the best ones offered here.

The various foes that you will cut down in battle range from giant spider’s, vampire thralls, elemental rock creatures, gargoyles, frost and lava spider’s, to so many more that it would take half this review just to talk about them. Each creature has a variety in itself that will make you change up your tactics as they all tend to operate a bit different from one another. Some of the enemies that will test your mettle are the teleporting versions of some of the more dangerous foes. There are teleporting spider’s that can slash off half your health if they get in a good stomp, and even when you cut down some of the larger more lumbering zombies, they will just get right back with more health.

There are not a vast amount of bosses or memorable encounters as in something like Diablo 3, but the final encounters in both the main campaign, and each of the bosses in the Motorhead add-on, are fantastic and have some truly fun mechanics that require you to do a bit of busywork as they become invincible for a portion of the battle. The main campaign does have some fairly fun bosses, but they tend to just be bigger versions of existing enemies with a much bigger health bar. It’s a problem that plagues most games like this, so I can’t really blame them for following the same method.

Apart from earning experience and getting health boosts and other benefits each time you level, Victor can equip demon powers and destiny cards that will impact how effective you can be. Demon powers range from shockwave attacks, turning into a poisonous gas, calling forth firey rocks, or summoning a defensive shield around you. You can equip two of these at any given time, and you’ll earn the use of them by performing critical strikes that build up your demon meter. The game throws so many enemies your way that I’ve often had the chance to use three shockwave attacks in a row, decimating dozens of enemies within seconds. There is even a trophy for killing 50 enemies in one blast, one that was easily achieved.

The destiny cards work like a perk system with boosting certain stats via a rarity system within the cards themselves. A level one health card may grant you 250 more health, but a level 4 one may grant 1000, and so on. These cards cover a wide spectrum for perks that will make Victor more effective in battle, or simply being able to take more damage. You can unlock the ability to hold more cards as you level up, and by the end of all three campaigns, I unlocked every slot for the cards. The one catch for this system, so that Victor doesn’t become too powerful, is that the cards have a number system based on their level, and those, in turn, add up to a limit of what you can have equipped. So, if your limit is 15, then your cards must not go over that limit when totaled up.

Each of the locations in Victor Vran has objectives that work in some ways like challenges; beat this boss with a certain gun, defeat so many enemies within the time limit, or harder ones that require that no healing items be used. You can work the metagame to comply with these rules, or make the game even harder and partake in the Hex card system. This system will buff the enemies in various ways, such as granting them bonus damage or a larger health pool. You’ll gain more experience and loot for your troubles, and should you feel the need to make it even harder, you can stack the Hex cards as well.

Victor Vran’s three campaigns should take you nearly 30 hours to complete, and this will vary greatly on your desire to explore each and every location, and even longer should you look to earn every level’s challenge objective. The fact you can jump from expansion to game without any problems makes the game really easy to get into and with local and online co-op, there is always a reason to get back into playing the game even when you’ve pushed through all the content. I do wish that you were able to see where a co-op match is taking place as all I could see was who was online and what level they were.

The game has a few minor annoyances that I’ll just jump right into. The menu font used for when you level-up, check stats on a weapon or when the game pops up a few alerts is minuscule and very hard to read. I had to lean forward and read the small text on a large 55″ 4K TV to even make out what was written. The menu’s also have a few things that took a while for me to realize I could do. I couldn’t find the ability to resort my inventory until I clicked in the right stick and was able to sort, sell junk, or bulk sell common, uncommon, and rare items. Had I know this right off the bat, then I wouldn’t have had a few moments of frustration. The whole menu structure just didn’t feel as natural as it could have been on a console and while it doesn’t limit how much fun I had with the title, it just isn’t as intuitive as it could have been.

While there are dozen’s upon dozen’s of weapons for Victor to wield, I wish there were more outfits for Victor to wear. Throughout the three campaigns, I unlocked 3-4 outfits that while cool, and offer some nice perks, just didn’t do it for me. I’m the type that really enjoys loot drops in games like this, especially outfits that change up the appearance of your character. Games like Diablo 3, Vikings: Wolves of Midgard, and Everquest: Champions of Norrath and its sequel, Return to Arms, are some of my favorite dungeon crawlers ever, but Victor Vran’s outfit offerings were less than even Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom for PS3, which only rewarded new outfits at the end of each chapter. One reason I could see why the game did limit the appearance options was that the menu screen would bring up a illustrated picture for that armor set, and not a render of the in-game character, so this use of art assets means less variety in-game.

Audio and video wise, the game is fantastic. The gorgeous colors and effects really pop and the game just runs so smooth at 60fps, that you can’t help but have a great time with it. When you spin the camera around environments, the buildings will fade so that nothing is ever blocking your view. As I pointed out in the first part of the review, Victor Vran is voiced by Doug Cockle, who is the voice behind Geralt of Rivia, the hero from The Witcher trilogy. Hearing the voice mention how he loves to kill demons, or his hatred of Vampires made me so excited to hear more from this character. The remaining voice cast is pretty solid as well, with several characters having some standout voice work, especially the female hunter you encounter fairly early on. There is also a ghost character you discover and I’m pretty sure this is the same guy who was the narrator in Witcher 3’s loading screens.

All in all, Victor Vran was a great time. Its fluid combat, fresh takes on some new and familiar weapons, and the vast secrets that each level contains, not to mention the whole game is available with offline and online co-op, there is just a vast amount of content here to take in. The two expansions that come with the Overkill Edition are easily worth it, especially the incredibly fun Motorhead add-on. Haemimont Games has crafted a wonderfully looking and sounding game with Victor Vran that is some of the best fun I’ve had with a Dungeon Crawler since Diablo 3. This one should definitely have your attention should you be a fan of the genre, and if not, this is a great place to start.

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition was reviewed via a review copy provided by the Publisher. All screenshots were captured on a PS4 Pro.

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