Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is an almost essential aRPG. The Finger Guns Review;
UPDATE: Switch Impressions of Victor Vran: Overkill Edition by Ross Keniston 03/09/2018;
The shiny new Switch version of Victor Vran has found itself in a little bit of a predicament. Whilst the gameplay remains solid with a good amount of humour, some terrific set-pieces that are replayable to an inch of their life, VV has had a bit of a kick to the teeth when it comes to its performance and presentation. Being able to tread the delicate balance of being able to get the game to run on inferior hardware along with ensuring it’s damn near the exact same game as people know, the game hasn’t particularly had the best port we’ve yet seen on Nintendo’s hybrid.
It’s never really about the visuals, they’re just all a bit bland and as such doesn’t look all that good on the Switch screen. Colours mesh together and create this symphony of textures that simply look poor, and as such gives a feel like this version has had been a bit of a rush job, even though that’s more than likely not the case. There’s a pop-up issue which in 2018 is frankly bizarre and the menus are squished from the PS4 version, making them feel packed and difficult to navigate without having to sacrifice a good chunk of your play time.
Most importantly though the game feels as good as it ever has done, away from the (many) performance issues, Victor Vran still exudes personality – at least from your narrator, Vran himself is still a crushing bore – and remains a solid challenge for those who are waiting on something to fill that Diablo shaped hole on their Switch until the real deal arrives.
Victor Vran: Overkill Edition then is a solid addition to your Switch library if you can overlook the rather drastic performance corner cutting. It was surprising and disappointing to see and hopefully there will be a few updates in place just to give the game the extra shine it deserves.
ORIGINAL PS4 REVIEW – May 30th, 2017
I moved Victor Vran into a room full of Skeletons and “the voice”, a fiendish narrator to the game’s story, said “I was once a hunter like you, until I took an arrow to the knee”. I smiled to myself, recognising the nod to the famous Skyrim meme. The voice then followed up with the left hook of an insult “of course that’s not true. I’m far too intelligent to be a simple Hunter like you”. It was at this moment, as I smashed Skeleton warriors to pieces with a giant hammer while having my intelligence insulted, that I fell in love with Victor Vran: Overkill Edition.
Victor Vran is an almost-top-down aRPG set in a gothic fantasy world that’s designed to entertain as much as it is to challenge. You play as titular hero Victor Vran, a reluctant demon hunter who has arrived in the demon-infested city of Zagoravia searching for a friend who has gone missing. Of course, nothing goes according to plan and Victor gets dragged into a war between the last remnants of the city’s human resistance and the demon hordes rising from below.
Victor Vran certainly puts the “action” in “Action Role Playing Game”. Unlike many of its peers, the game is exciting from beginning to end and even has a jump button (I know, I was as surprised as you are). There’s very little dialogue and most of the quests in the game are combat oriented, requiring you to head to a location, bash the heads in of whatever is waiting for you and then returning to the quest giver to let them know. This is because this game plays to its strengths, focusing on the well implemented, satisfying and challenging combat. New enemies types (of which there are *plenty*) are incrementally introduced as you progress through the city and are constantly mixed up with older, more familiar foes to keep you on your toes. Some demons will test your skills while others serve as opportunities to use some of Victor’s more impressive abilities to Overkill tonnes of enemies at once.
The combat rarely becomes repetitive (although there are a few dungeons that could have been shorter and would have benefited from it) as it drip feeds new and ever improving weapons, abilities and card upgrades for you to use against a rotating blend of opponents. Then there are the boss battles – wow! Just wow. Much like an action-adventure game, the bosses almost always have a “best” way to defeat them and it’s a matter of probing out what that is and then hammering it home – literally in some cases.
The RPG aspects of Victor Vran are as deep or shallow as you want them to be. You will have to dip in and out of menu’s to equip new equipment, outfits and “Destiny Cards” (which have an effect on Vran’s damage, stats, passive abilities etc) but you don’t have to spend hours comparing numbers and statistics to get through the game. The game’s UI is intuitive – loot and gear has different colours depending on rarity and power – and it has tuned for console controls to make it as accessible as possible.
Without spoiling it, the plot for the main story of Victor Vran is a wickedly fun one full of dark humour, bad decisions, fantasy tropes and the occasional pop culture reference. When the reluctant hero first arrives in Zagoravia, he starts to hear a playful but evil voice in his head who is a constant source of entertainment. He narrates the majority of your adventure but likes to get up to mischief – such as telling you Victor is going the wrong way in a dungeon, attempting to shepherd Vran into more waves of enemies or scalding “Viccy” for cheating when he jumps over the walls of a hedge maze. The plot doesn’t take itself too seriously and telegraphs some of its twists early on but it’s an adequate window dressing around the action which keeps you on the hook right till the end.
Visually, the Overkill Edition on PS4 is splendid. The gothic art style evolves, introducing steam-punk-esque aspects as you travel through the numerous districts and dungeons of Zagoravia but it all feels tied together. Performance wise, I didn’t notice a single dropped frame, stutter or screen tear throughout the entire game – even when there are 40+ enemies on screen.
Two new expansions come as part of of the Victor Vran: Overkill Edition. They are Motorhead: Through the Ages and Fractured Worlds.
The Motorhead expansion is probably my favourite part of Victor Vran. In it you’re transported to the “pub at the end of time” to join the fight against various evils in worlds based on Motorhead mythology. From war torn streets filled with burnt out tanks to the Wild (and weird) West, you can fight demons with Lemmy’s signature guitar, knee-sliding through enemies while classic Motorhead tracks play in the background. It’s a brilliant tribute to Lemmy and Motorhead that’s a whole lot of fun to play. You can also take the weapons from the Motorhead expansion into the main game too.
All 3 of the campaigns in Victor Vran: Overkill Edition can be played in 4-player local or online co-op. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to test the online portion of the game (there was not much of an online community while in the review period – I will try this out and update the review with my thoughts post launch) but have played the local 2 player co-op extensively and it works brilliantly – it’s easy to tell your own Vran from the other Vran which means it’s rare that you get muddled up while fighting back to back.
In Summary, Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is demonic good fun and an almost essential aRPG. It keeps the focus on the action, keeps the combat competitive and remains entertains through either humour or atmosphere from beginning to end. It’s insistence on foreshadowing some of its more poignant moments does take the sting out of some of the plot turns and there are some dungeons that become a bit of a slog. Those small issues aside, Victor Vran is one of the most enjoyable aRPG’s I’ve played in recent times with some A+ additional content for Metal heads thrown in for good measure.
Victor Vran: Overkill Edition will be available on PS4 (version reviewed) & Xbox One on June 6th.
Disclaimer: We received a code from the publishers for this game in order to complete the review. For more information on we review and score games, please see out review policy.