What we have here is a solid top-down action RPG/loot crawler/dungeon crawler from Bulgarian dev, Haemimont Games. These guys have made the recent Tropico titles and usually stick to the medieval strategy type game, clearly this was a good decision to branch out.
Now, ignoring the name….Victor Vran (I have no idea if Vran means anything), we have a well polished isometric action RPG, all about the loot and saving a made up kingdom from evil spiders an skeletons an Noel Edmonds wrapped in bacon with a hole punch.
Vran, is a hunter, he hunts the nasties. The real nasties, so he travelled to Zagoravia looking for his bestie, but as it turns out, he’s dead (…er spoilers). Victor then changes his plan from a “I’m just passing thru peeps!” to “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” or something like that.
Hunters from all over the world are being pulled towards the chaos in the region and few live to share a biscuit, so it’s all down to “VRAN the MAN” (possibly the name of the sequel, confirmed!).
Combat is swift and clean with each weapon class having its own set of three skills – swords, hammers, shotguns, electric rifles, rapiers, scythe’s, mortar cannon and spell books – ranging from single target to area damage and some great animation to go with. Every weapon feels different from the last. My personal fave is the scythe, its area damage suites my play style. on top of this you have demonic abilities… calling down meteor showers, creating a temporal break (smartypants way of saying you froze time), healing/support auras, earthquake like spells, ect. These spells can only be activated when you have built up enough “Overdrive” which – depending on which outfit you’re wearing – is collected by dealing damage in some form, except for the mage type clobber which generates its own.
You also unlock “Destiny Card” slots as you level up, allowing you to slot the cards you find which augment your abilities, gear, weaponry or spells. These become vital to survival at later stages, increasing strength or reducing cool down on you skill sets defines that life or death argument you seem to have with the bad guys.
You can only equip one weapon and spell at the start, but as you progress you’ll pack two of each. Part of the fun here is creating the best setup for your own unique approach or to cater to the challenge ahead.
Now if you’ve played the “Van Helsing” games made of late you will look at Vran and think it’s the same thing…you wouldn’t be far from the truth, but Vran genuinely plays better. Its got that post medieval, neo-steampunk grasp to it like Helsing, but its much more subtle. It’s not overly complex with a four page ability screen, Vran keeps things easy to follow.
The environment you roll about in is a dilapidated city, with castle, cemetery, sewers, upper/lower class city sections… ya know, the usual. Each zone has a specific set of challenges which are completely optional and rewarding with weapons and cash/XP making them worth while.
Character progression is paced well, granting an item reward and stat boost at every “Ding!” and at level 16 you unlock the “transmutation station” (great name for a band btw) allowing you to improve the stats of the weapons you’ve worked so hard for.
Graphically speaking, Vran is a treat. I’ve played so many games of this genre and few meet the standard set by Haemimont Games. Lighting and environmental effects look great, the camera is completely rotate-able and the terrain fades in and out perfectly when needed… I have yet to come across a visual bug of any kind.
Ambient audio and soundtrack are fitting, like a cross between “Lord of the Rings” and a Victorian folk band. Victor is voiced by “Doug Cockle”, you may know him from a small game franchise that’s been doing the rounds for the last 10 years… he is the “White Wolf” himself, Mr. Witcher. To be honest, while I was playing the game, listening to Cockle’s voice, I thought I was playing an isometric Witcher game. The voice cast on a whole is well produced – aside from a bloke called “Stash”, him I could do without.
Following the plot and narrative is compelling, interesting and delivered throughout in little snippets, short cut scenes… tapestries in motion. As it turns out there is much more to Victor than first appears and his reasons for doing what he does becomes apparent. Time to stand up and fix things eh? Tidy up that coffee table!
The story drops itself in at perfect intervals, changing your viewpoint on the reasoning of the protagonists actions, explaining why Vran agreed to stay and help the kingdom and its ruler. It drives you all the more forward to discover the origins of this plague like evil spreading across the lands. It all comes down to one thing really, one thing that’s causing all the destruction, “The Well of Worlds”. A multiverse gate way, opened by naïve good hearted people but none-the-less…. er… oops?!
The game supports a full four player drop-in/out coop mode which is very unrestrictive, I could be sweeping my scythe through skeletons at the cemetery while Rhys was at the Royal Gardens dying 4 times a minute. Even though you’re sharing the world you need not be together and the enemies are scaled to your level so don’t panic.
You also have a Player vs Player zone added with the recent content drop, so now you can test out your Geralt against my Gera….I mean Victor against mine! New “Motörhead” DLC adds three new worlds stylised to the songs of the band, the tunes are epic, the setting is epic and the new skills are …triffic too.
GAME DESIGN & INNOVATION: 7.5/10
The game isn’t breaking the mould here but it fits the bill perfectly, it’s an all-round package that delivers on all fronts. Fans of the genre would be missing out big-time here, I encourage every “Diablo” fan out there to grab this.
Fun, addictive, clean. what more would you want?
OVERALL: 8/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Michael Jones.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Victor Vran on Xbox One, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)