Zagoravia. It sounds (and looks) like the kind of place where Count Dracula would go on holiday, but it is also your destination in Victor Vran. Victor is a monster hunter and seeing as the place is overrun by all manner of foul creatures it is definitely more of a business trip than a holiday. Evidently a whole bunch of monster hunters, including an old friend of Victor, travelled to Zagoravia, but nobody ever returned. Now it is up to you to help Victor carve a path through the hordes of enemies standing between him and the truth in this isometric action role playing game.
Victor Vran already impressed us when we checked it out during its Early Access phase on Steam and it has only gotten better since then. At first glance the game looks like a typical action-RPG, similar to the Diablo, Torchlight and Van Helsing titles, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that it has a flavor of its own. The game features a classless system, so your playing style and gear determines what type of character Victor is. These include your weapons, demon powers, destiny cards and outfits. Weapons are split into groups, such as swords, hammers, shotguns, scythes, mortars, rapiers and our personal favorite, lightning guns. Your choice of weapons will determine whether you prefer long or short range combat, like to deal heavy damage or favor speed and agility. After gaining a few levels you can switch between two weapons on the fly and each weapon class comes with three different types of attacks.
Next up are the demon powers, which are powerful attacks that can be triggered once you fill up an overdrive meter through combat. From hard hitting boomerangs or massive meteors to purging flames and scorching sunrays, these powers can really help thin the hordes or assist in taking down the boss baddies. Not all of them are offensive either as you can instead opt for a healing aura, time slowing bubble or other powers as well. Destiny cards on the other hand grant passive abilities, such as increasing Victor’s health or increasing his accuracy. There are a ton of these to find, but you are limited by the amount of open slots and available destiny points of Victor when it comes to equipping them. Last up are the different outfits you can find, which also impacts your character in different ways. Victor still earns experience points and gains levels, but instead of stat points you unlock additional equipment slots, more health, extra destiny points and more. Players used to poring over their character stats might be a little disappointed, but personally we quite enjoyed the streamlined system. The game doesn’t feature any type of skilltree either, but offers enough weapon variety to keep things interesting.
In addition to two difficulty settings, Normal and Hard, Victor Vran allows you to further customize your challenge by using hexes. These are unlocked after a few levels and make enemies deadlier or handicaps Victor in some way in exchange for more experience points. Unlike traditional side quests, the game instead provides players with a range of challenges for each level. These are optional and often require the use of hexes, but does add some nice variety to the game as well as enhancing is longevity.
While not killing anything that moves as he visits the tourist hotspots of Zagoravia, Victor can return to the castle that serves as the hub for the game. There are a couple of NPCs to be found here, but interacting with them is limited to a couple of static screens and some speech. Apart from buying, selling and storing items, the hub also offers the option to try your hand at transmuting. This is where you combine your gear in the hope of crafting something fancier. Since we rarely found anything special from the traders a lot of time was spend transmuting items and it is quite enjoyable. There is no shortage of loot in the game either, so you’ll always have plenty to gamble away with the transmuting system.
Victor Vran is a pretty good looking game, although it sticks very closely to its gloomy, gothic, steam-punk visual style. Levels are handcrafted and features plenty of crypts, catacombs, caves and outdoor areas, but thanks to all the colorful spell effects these are rarely dark. The locations are generally quite detailed and the lighting effects are very nice. You’ll also find plenty of destructible items amongst the scenery, such as crates, barrels and furniture, which makes the lightning gun even more fun to use.
The enemy variety is quite decent and in addition to the usual spiders and skeletons you’ll also encounter gargoyles, specters and other more exotic critters, like the various types of “essence.” There are also some nice bosses to take down and we quite liked the animations featured in the game. The skeletons busting some Gangnam style dance moves are particularly funny.
Just like the visual style, the soundtrack offers about what you would expect from a gothic themed tittle. The music is rather atmospheric and very fitting, but it is the voice acting that steals the show. The NPCs don’t’ really have much to say, but luckily Victor makes a few quips every now and then. The voice you’ll hear the most though, is the narrator of the game, but I’m not going to spoil anything by revealing where he fits in. Suffice to say he’s actually pretty humorous, although his penchant for memes and fourth-wall breaking jokes might annoy some players expecting a more serious story.
When it comes to the controls we tried the keyboard and mouse option again, but just like with the Early Access version, quickly switched over to an Xbox controller. Strange as it may seem, a controller just feels like a better match for the action packed gameplay and felt like the more natural option. This might be due to the fact that Victor is a bit more nimble than your typical isometric-RPG hero and can jump as well as dodge. In fact, he even has a nifty wall jumping ability that enables you to reach higher spots while hunting for secrets.
Victor Vran offers a very enjoyable solo experience, but also comes with an online co-op mode where you can tackle the adventure with a couple of friends. If you prefer crushing your friends instead you can head over to the PvP Arena to prove your skills and find out who created the best version of Victor. The developers also mentioned that they have a whole host of free content updates planned for the game, which is a rarity in the current DLC crazy gaming industry.
It might not have the most complex or engrossing storylines, but we really enjoyed our time with Victor Vran. It is action-packed, easy to control and still offers plenty of depth despite the streamlined role playing mechanics. It also features plenty of content considering its relatively low price, so we have no problem recommending it to all action-RPG fans.
- OS: Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8
- Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core CPU
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: GeForce 8800 or higher, AMD Radeon HD 4000 or higher, Intel HD 4000 or higher (min. 512 MB VRAM)
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX compatible
- OS: Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8 (64 bit)
- Processor: 2.5 GHz Quad Core CPU
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: GeForce 560 or higher, AMD Radeon HD 5800 or higher
- DirectX: Version 11
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX compatible