Publisher: EuroVideo Medien
Developer: Haemimont Games
Release Date: July 24th, 2015
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac, Linux
There is no shortage of isometric action-RPGs, growing in popularity in the past few years with games like Torchlight 2 and Path of Exhile becoming incredibly popular. Despite this, Haemimont Games (Tropico 5, Omerta) decided to take a crack at the genre with their newest game Victor Vran. It would be easy for Haemimont to capitalize on a very popular formula, defined by genre prominent Diablo, deciding to put their own spin on it. The outcome couldn’t have been more beautifully done.
Voices in your head
One of the familiar features of Victor Vran that can be seen in many other action-RPGs is the lack of a deep story. Victor is a demon hunter sent to find a fellow hunter. In this venture, he finds himself mixed up in saving an entire kingdom from being overrun with the monsters, not to mention his fellow brethren. Nothing special, but it provides some sustenance nonetheless. Instead of the story being the driving force behind the game, the mounds of loot instead entice players to endure the journey ahead.
We are introduced early on to something simply referred to as the “Voice.” Immediately you think, “helper” or “guide” role for this being. However, the “Voice” will taunt Victor throughout the game. At first I was turned off by some distant narrator that was never seen. However, the more the game progressed, the more I enjoyed having the comedic relief of Voice. He will reference other games and sometimes even break the fourth-wall, causing players to perk up their ears while playing. While it isn’t earth-shattering, it is a nice little touch that is enough to give Victor Vran a unique vibe.
Plan to run Victor Vran, man?
For an indie title, the game runs like a dream. The optimization is exactly what you’d hope for from a game that hasn’t shown it’s face on console. The game can run great on small, budget PCs on lower settings and great on huge dream machines cranked to max settings. With either choice the game looks great, with colorful flashes of light filling the screen during large battles, and melancholy set pieces lining environments of each level. There is a definite essence attributed to the graphical aspect of the game. Each design is unique, while all flowing together, giving the sense of a unanimous world.
This is really seen within the many dungeon areas of the game. Upon entering, every single one feels and looks very similar, but as I ventured deeper, I felt the individuality of each location. There may be undead soldiers inside trying to gun me down, or pyromaniacs that rise from the grown to throw seeking fireballs. Every encounter and every locations feels totally fresh.
The loot is varied, providing plenty to explore throughout each level. One of the driving points behind looting is the special demonic powers Victor can pick up. These are controlled by a meter which builds with combos and allows players to unleash a massive power once the meter is full. Again, the design isn’t something new to the genre, but a great addition nonetheless.
With the fear of many action-RPGs falling victim to repetitive combat, it surprisingly wasn’t the case with Victor Vran. Every encounter feels fresh, and while I was still slamming down on my mouse button, there was always a sense that there was an actual battle at hand. The mountains of enemies Victor must face are widely different, not only in design, but also in behavior. Every single one has unique attacks that are provide challenging obstacles to overcome. The enemy density and variety causes players to approach combat differently. The different attacks of each enemy aren’t just for show, they are for strategy, causing every player to jump out of their play style to master the game.
Despite all of this, there is one looming threat that keeps Victor Vran from total greatness. The most risky thing the game did was to ditch a complex skill tree achieved with each level, in favor a more streamlined leveling system. Victor Vran chose not to fall in line with titles like Torchlight 2, which feature passive and active upgrades when experience is earned. Instead, you earn magic and other abilities through loot, using the leveling system to unlock the ability to use items you may have already found.
Personally, I never had a problem with it. While at first the lack of the feature seemed totally ridiculous, it became irrelevant after a few hours of playing. However, while I enjoyed the more streamlined approach, it could turn away some players and may be something to keep in mind.
The bottom line
Victor Vran is a total winner. The game is familiar enough for fans of the genre to jump into, while still throwing some unique features to keep players interested. For players seeking a fun action-RPG they can play alone or with friends, Victor Vran is for you, and with free upcoming DLC.
While the lack of a skill tree may turn off some players, it would be a mistake not to give Victor Vran your time. Which, in speaking in terms of game length, will still run you anywhere from 10-15 hours of playtime.
Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve go some demon slaying ahead of me.