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Critics have started handing out their verdicts on Victor Vran, Haemimont Games' action-RPG in the vein of Diablo. The game is a fairly low-key release and therefore not a priority for major publications, so the vast majority of reviews are coming from small and medium-sized websites. Most of these reviews are favorable to the title, though they cite problems with the game's writing, repetition, and some odd design choices.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun, scoreless.
First up are Powers. These are demonic abilities Vran possesses thanks to a devilish pact he made in his youth. They rely on your building up Overdrive a yellow meter that is gained through combat (or time, if wearing a particular outfit), and then let you fling magical boomerangs, put up defensive shields, rain down fireballs, and so on. Then there are Destiny Cards. You can equip an ever-increasing number of these from your collection, adding in bonuses such as increased melee damage, health rewarded for kills, longer buff duration, and the like. Lastly are the Hexes, which as well as making foes tougher, also improve XP and item finds.
And, yes, well, there's the matter of the (comedy). For reasons best known to Haemimont, Vran is accompanied by a wacky-wacky voice in his head, who tells you his name is Voice. He attempts to sarcastically narrate your experience, but it falls horribly flat. At one point, a slight similarity between the actor, Andrew Wincott's voice, and that of The Stanley Parable's Kevan Brighting, leads to a fist-chewingly dreadful attempt to spoof/tribute Stanley's narration. Oh gawd, it's so bad.
It certainly doesn't get to join the elite group, but if you're after some ARPG entertainment, it more than fits the role. I'm far from finished, after spending a hefty amount of time with it, so there's a lot on offer here, not least with the incentive to replay older sections to perfection. Turn the voices down, put a podcast on, and sink in.
Following the tutorial, you're given the option of choosing one of three classes. All classes are still Victor, but they play decidedly different. There's the wizard-like character, who specializes in magic, a rogue-like character with quick, but light, attacks and a specialization in distance-based attacks, and the warrior-like character. Seeing as how the tutorial was all done from the warrior's perspective,t he sudden change was jarring, and did little to encourage me to explore options outside of the warrior class.
Actual combat is fast and fluid. Each weapon has it's own basic attack and two limited special attacks. With the press of a button, you're able to swap between two different weapons. This adds a lot of strategy to the mix. For example, fighting a powerful monster might require the use of multiple special abilities. Thanks to the two weapon system, you could use the two specials of weapon A, switch weapons, and then use the specials of weapon B. Adding to this is the Demon abilities, which are dictated by an Overcharge meter. As you kill enemies, your Overcharge meter fills. Once full, Victor can unleash a powerful Demon attack which lays waste to hordes of monsters at once. Once you've leveled Victor up enough, you're able to have multiple Demon attacks on hand. Demon attacks can be swapped out for others that are picked up from killing enemies.
Victor Vran does little to set itself apart from the likes of Diablo, Torchlight, and the Van Helsing series. Instead, it chooses to focus on tight gameplay with excellent controls and does away with a lot of the tediousness of the genre. It's a game that has benefitted entirely from the Early Access program and is a shining example of what can be done when giving players access to games early.
IndieGames.com praises the writing but assigns no score.
Victor Vran is a fantastic action-RPG, plain and simple. After playing the game through, it's easy to say that I'll be back for more. While the story, enemies, and environments are nothing new, the gameplay and humor gives the game just enough to stand out among the crowd. The narrator comments on your movements, and creates some moments that are just plain hilarious. Victor Vran does not take itself seriously whatsoever, but the combat, upgrades, and loot in the game make it one that you should seriously be considering.
Canadian Online Gamers, 80/100.
Victor Vran is a solid action-RPG, no doubt about it. I was hoping for more depth and permanence in the skill system like you might find in more traditional RPGs, but I can appreciate the choices the developers made given the core mechanic of the game: fast-paced combat with a variety of weapons and enemies. I would recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of action-RPGs with more of a focus on combat and less on character building.
Digital Chumps, 7.8/10.
The biggest wall I ran into with Victor Vran was the repetition and the grind. Some gamers won't see this the same way I do and that's great, and if I were playing this co-op (which I was only able to test a limited amount of at the time of this writing), it wouldn't be as big of a deal. But I ran into the same trouble that I had with Dungeon Siege III years ago, in which I was picking up so many items and weapons, and I had slots for all of them in inventory, it became a nuisance to keep track of them all. There are a bunch of weapons to begin with -- swords, rapiers, hammers, scythes, lighting guns, shotguns, and more that I'm probably forgetting. Within all of these, there are a lot of variations and having to stop and examine what you have with what you just got and so forth slows things down significantly. Being able to equip just two weapons at a time -- and having to pause the game, go into your inventory to change these out -- also breaks up the pacing. At its best, Victor Vran is a really smooth, fast, twenty-plus enemies on screen kind of game, and you can string together some pretty sweet combos between your two weapons. I would have loved for a way to fast-switch between more than just two weapons, and perhaps this does become available as you level up further than I have.
In short, Victor Vran has more positives than negatives, and the present and future for Victor Vran look pretty darn good.
If you've never given Action Role-playing games a try, Victor Vran might just be one of the better ones to try. The controls are familiar and easy to learn, the combat is very satisfying, and the crafting and small additions such as destiny cards and demon powers might be enough to please new players of the genre, as well as old. Adding online multiplayer gives Victor Vran a huge amount of replayability, and I can't wait for my next trip to Zagoravia.