Developer: Haemimont Games
Publisher: EuroVideo Medien
Review Context: I’m an ARPG fan that has played Diablo, Diablo 2, Diablo 3, Titan Quest, Torchlight, Torchlight 2, and Path of Exile.
Date of Playthrough: August 2015
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i3 CPU 540 @ 3.07GHz
RAM: 8 GB
Video Card: AMD Radeon 7700 1GB DDR5
Disclosure: This review was based off of a review copy provided via Evolve PR.
Rarely do new games of a genre add a new dimension to that genre because everything has usually been done before, but Victor Vran has managed to do just that with the ARPG genre. Haemimont Games figures out a way to add new elements to the genre that I personally haven’t seen before.
As a big fan of the ARPG genre, I have played quite a few of them, but none of them give the gameplay experience that Victor Vran does, which is quite shocking because most ARPGs are very similar in gameplay style. Victor Vran brings a classless system, which involves action-packed jumping, dodge rolls, and wall jumping. In order to implement such an action-packed gameplay style the controls have to be nearly perfect.
Before playing Victor Vran my biggest concern was the controls, but to my amazement, the controls were pulled off pretty well. The controls are fairly customizable, giving players the option to use an Xbox controller, mouse (click to move), or keyboard (WASD) to move around. Players using keyboard/mouse controls can rebind their controls, but it doesn’t appear the gamepad controls can be changed. It took me a while to find a comfortable setup, but I managed to eventually find one that felt most comfortable for dodge rolls, which might be the hardest element of Victor Vran to get used to for new players.
Victor Vran, a highlander, begins in Zagoravia where you are tasked to find a hunter named Adrian. Without spoiling, Victor Vran is soon dragged into a larger “save the world from destruction” type conflict, which ends up being a fairly generic story. Parts of the story are told by a narrator during combat, which gives it a slight Bastion feel, but the interest level falls a little short when you are busy slaying enemies. The game features some “cutscenes,” where you see some beautifully drawn moving images with a narrator to help tell the uninteresting story. In the Castle of Zagoravia, Victor Vran will meet vendors that sell various items like weapons and destiny cards, and during each part of the story vendors will force tiny dialogue cutscenes with a picture, plus voice acting, that ends up being more annoying than intriguing when all you want to do is shop. By the end of the story you will have faced against around six bosses. Most of them were relatively easy to get past, but still interesting combat experiences. The soundtrack for each level is good enough to get the blood pumping for combat, which is all I really ask for.
Victor Vran is different from most ARPGs, where each location is denoted on a map that Victor can quickly teleport to. Each location has a set of challenges like slaying a certain type enemy with a certain type of weapon, slaying a certain amount of enemies on a timer, slaying a certain amount of enemies without taking damage, and finding a certain amount of secrets. If you complete one of those tasks a treasure chest drops down from the sky onto your location and it spits out the reward without requiring a town visit. The secrets are chests with rewards that can contain gold, weapons, demon powers, and/or destiny cards. Secrets are hidden around the map, but they are usually easy to find if you are actively looking for them, but may require wall jumping or use of the camera rotation controls in order to see them. Throughout the game the camera can be rotated so Victor is facing a direction of the player’s liking. For example, if the default camera has Victor walking to the right, a player can choose to rotate the camera so Victor is now walking up (or any other direction).
The character customization of Victor consists of weapons, demon powers, destiny cards, potions, and outfits. During the course of your journey you will find different weapons like swords, shotguns, scythes, and a couple more. There isn’t a huge variety of weapons, but a player can equip two different weapons and swap between them. Unlike other ARPGs, there are no skill points in Victor Vran. Like inGuild Wars 2, each weapon has a few abilities with cooldowns that a player can use (abilities can’t be changed), but the goal is to pump up the overdrive meter by stringing together combos through consecutive attacks with weapons. Each weapon comes with some sort of special effect that can be triggered, but the ultimate goal is to build up the overdrive meter so that player’s can use their demon powers. Demon powers are special abilities that can be found throughout the game that can instantly tilt the battle in Victor’s favor. For example, one of the demon powers can give a player a protective shell, while another can drop meteors from the sky. There isn’t a ton of variety of demon powers to choose from once you’ve found them all, but the variables in the attribute values of the demon powers end up being the deciding factor for using a specific demon power.
Victor can also be customized by using items called destiny cards, which are passive bonuses that can grant things like more damage, more health, life leech, and various other bonuses. The catch is that each destiny card has a cost that limits the cards you can use. By the end of the game players should have at least five destiny card slots, but a player wont be able to stack all of the best cards due to the destiny card cost limit. Mixing, matching, and trying to find the best combination of destiny cards for your build is one of the most fun aspects of the Victor Vran. At the beginning of the game players get to choose an outfit to start with that gives a passive bonus to certain weapon types, as well as a different look. I feel this design decision contradicts the overall classless element of the game by nudging players to choose their style at the beginning, which is essentially what choosing a class at the beginning of an ARPG does. Luckily, the outfit you choose for Victor at the beginning of the game isn’t permanent.
Leveling up in Victor Vran is an experience in itself. Leveling up usually either increases health or increases the destiny card points limit, but players are given three choices of items to pick from. Besides the regular items (weapons, destiny cards, demon powers etc.) that can pop up sometimes for a choice, players can also see a treasure chest to choose from (recommended) time to time that has random loot in them. As of right now, the level cap is fifty, but players can level up past fifty to obtain “renowned” levels (no limit I think), which is similar to what paragon levels are in Diablo 3. I leveled up to renowned level one, and the rewards seem pretty similar to what they are from levels one to fifty. After a certain amount of levels, a location called “Bottomless Pit” is unlocked, which is pretty much an endless level where players can fight random rounds and waves of enemies that give random item rewards. Aside from going back and completing all of the challenges in each location (for completionists), the Bottomless Pit is pretty much the endgame.
During the course of your playthrough of Victor Vran many items will be accumulated in your unlimited inventory (don’t be fooled by the pages). Virtually every item in the game can have a rarity level of either common, uncommon, rare, or legendary. Midway through the game a transmutation feature is unlocked, which can used to upgrade items. Unlike other ARPGs, Victor Vran comes with an in-game guide that players can use to look up various recipes. Although transmutation can be used to randomly roll weapons/items to possibly create a higher rarity, the feature is more designed for upgrading items.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides of the game is the itemization. The itemization of the game doesn’t really give a good sense of progression because the damage values of each item is almost the same for the entire playthrough. For example, it’s not like going from a four damage sword in the beginning, versus a seventy damage sword at the end of the game like most ARPG game. The design choice of this seems to imply that every player must use transmutation in order to upgrade damage values enough to feel like you are progressing damage wise, but transmutation doesn’t unlock until you are well into the game. Unfortunately for me, I started out with a shotgun, but I never found anything that was a significant upgrade, forcing me to drop using the weapon altogether, despite the fact that the shotgun was one of my favorite weapons to use. I kept waiting for a significant upgrade during my playthrough, but it never came. By the end of the game I realized that transmutation has to be really relied upon to increase weapon damage. This issue can be alleviated by having transmutation unlock much earlier. On another note, there is no item trading.
Although most of the game is generally a single player experience, multiplayer is also available. There is a PVP arena that unlocks during your playthrough, but it seemed to be empty when I visited. I was literally the only person there! The regular multiplayer option is also available to look for and create public games, but again, it’s pretty deserted. There are different servers that one can choose from, but everything is empty. It appears the multiplayer experience should not be relied upon unless you have an already existing party of friends. (I will update this once I am able to experience multiplayer to the fullest.) Haemimont Games has promised a local multiplayer mode (same machine) that has not been put in the game yet that I’m looking forward to trying out. There is a treasure map system used for endgame to search for treasure in certain locations that designed mostly for multiplayer, but I have not encountered any treasure maps at the point of writing this review.
Where Victor Vran shines is in the gameplay experience, but not without its faults. When wall jumping, it can sometimes be a pain to aim the direction you are bouncing towards. The trade-off for implementing wall jumping is a less zoomed in camera, which can sometimes make you feel like you’re controlling an ant in some situations. The weapon swapping is probably my biggest gripe as a keyboard/mouse user because it’s a pain to keep swapping. It’s sometimes hard to see if I’m on right weapon due to the camera distance, causing me to waste time and overdrive that drains down, just to see if I’m swapped on the right weapon. Unfortunately, due to the weapon swapping issue I usually stuck with one weapon and swapped sparingly. This is an area where playing with a controller is advantageous. I think removing weapon swap altogether would make this game that much more fun and not take away from the game experience at all..There isn’t a huge variety of enemies in the game, but they can come in large waves with projectiles flying everywhere, which can make the combat a bit annoying. Some locations have a bunch of side areas that can be visited, but the game seems to have an order they want you to visit some of the locations. There was one instance where I visited an area and the game forced me to go back to the area to continue the story.
The game difficulty was relatively easy, as I didn’t really feel challenged until the very end of the story.
I’m a general believer that game difficulty should be not be put in the player’s hands in order to give a challenge, and the default difficulty should be challenging enough already. In Victor Vran they have a hex system, similar to the idol system in Bastion, which is meant to give players more of a challenge in exchange for more experience and loot. Some enemies are champions, which are tough enemies that usually drop good loot. There is one hex that forces more enemies to be champions that is useful for farming, which I really enjoyed using. Haemimont Games seems to be ahead of its time when it comes to tech support, because there is a way to send feedback in-game that takes a screenshot of wherever you are, plus a textbox to write what the bug or glitch is. Although I did encounter a few crashes and used that bug feedback system once, Victor Vran was generally a smooth experience. The FPS was generally pretty good, hovering between thirty and fifty.
It’s very rare to play a young game like Victor Vran that has a lot of issues, plenty of ways to improve, but still provides a good enough experience to make it a positive one. Victor Vran feels like it could be what Diablo was to Diablo 2; the start of something great! Despite all of the issues, Victor Vran provides a great foundation of a game experience that can be built upon for a sequel. The enjoyable action-packed combat experience alone is a factor that allows me to overlook some of the other glaring flaws in the game, like the boring story. With hardcore mode just recently added, local multiplayer to come later, a couple DLCs scheduled, and an expansion featuring the band Motörhead on the horizon, there is a lot to look forward to! After playing over forty hours of Victor Vran, Haemimont Games deserves a lot of credit for creating a game experience that was not in the ARPG market already, making Victor Vran one of my favorite games of 2015.
Similar Games Liked:
Diablo 2 (PC)
Torchlight 2 (PC)
Similar Games Disliked: