Haemimont Games brings us an isometric action RPG adventure in Victor Vran: Overkill Edition. The original release made its way onto Steam back in 2015, and after a couple of expansions the game has been given a tech overhaul to boost framerate and provide the full experience on console. Have the Bulgarian studio behind the Tropico series spread their bat-like wings and brought us something new and different, or will to slither off into the night in search of other prey?
Victor Vran is a monster hunter who finds himself in the town of Zagoravia in search of his missing brother, and a whole heap of other vanished slayers. Heading in through the city gates it’s rapidly apparent from the giant spiders roaming free that things are not good, and Victor needs to solve things in the only way he knows how… slash and shoot everything into little pieces. The premise of the game is not difficult to grasp at first – hit buttons to kill things – but as you progress there’s much more to discover. In the vein of classic RPGs like Diablo and Baldur’s Gate, the action is presented in an isometric view with scenery disappearing so that your view is never obscured. In a switch up though you’re not fixed in the isometric plane and the camera is free to swing around to not only make exploration easier, it also gives you a better view of the nicely detailed world you’re thrusting and slashing your way through. Whilst progression is reasonably linear, you’re free to jump between unlocked areas on the easily accessible map, and some “levels” can be tackled in whichever sequence you decide is best.
Weapons of choice are swords for up close and personal combat, shotguns for keeping a bit of distance, and magic for that little extra oomph with the bigger enemies. It’s essentially a one button fight system with power moves mapped to two other buttons, and that come with a cooldown between uses. Each kill grants XP towards your next rank, and each level gained grants a bonus that ranges from stat boost cards to new weapon slots. Initially there’s a trip to the equipment menu needed to swap your loadout, though eventually you’re able to switch between two bits of kit on the fly. There’s an advantage here in that each weapon has it’s own cooldown for the power moves, so timed right you can really inflict some damage onto your foes. Aside from setting the right tools for the job, selecting what you want hot swapping adds to the customisation that’s on offer.
Pretty much every element of Victor Vran’s equipment can be changed based on what you pick up from defeated enemies or bonus chests. Multiple versions of hammers, swords, rapiers and shotguns can be used, most with unique properties, and can also be transmuted when you hit higher levels, enabling more customisation. Destiny (stat) cards are abundant, as are new demon powers, and with so much choice you can set yourself up to be exactly the type of class that you prefer. Even selecting the starting outfit has a bearing on how you’ll perform over the course of the game. The best kit is bought from vendors in hub areas, with the cash collected from the world or from completing bonus objectives set in each area. Killing a number of enemies within a time limit, using your demon powers an amount of times, or not getting hit could all be challenges set for particular areas. Every place you visit will have 5 of these, and each will have XP, cash or a bonus item attached; and they’re definitely worth going for. Aside from the sprawling campaign, these additional objectives give good reason to replay sections and strive for a better performance… and that’s before we get to the two expansions that come with the Overkill Edition.
In a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister there’s a Motorhead expansion designed around the bands look and style. Featuring music from the metal legends, Victor takes the fight to a mysterious land where guitars have power and the weapons are even more badass. Rather than just a retread of the story campaign in a new layout, Motorhead: Through the Ages is a completely fresh adventure with new upgrades, moves and enemies. As a great touch you pick up your character at the same level as the main game, and can even grab items you’ve stored, as well as move items to storage so that you can use them elsewhere. It gives a fantastic feeling of freedom that you’re jumping between worlds, experiencing different stories, but are able to keep the same character, kit and traits, as well as continuing to level up. The second expansion is Fractured Worlds and chucks in a twisted environment that feels brighter and more vibrant than the dark and depressing areas you’ll be used to. That said, there’s a warning of a minimum level to be before you start it… there are a lot of enemies to contend with, which definitely makes it fun for those who like hordes of bad guys to go at.
Victor Vran isn’t just a hack and slash adventure, there’s an intriguing story helped along by some well written dialogue and many game references from your companion – a disembodied voice that teases, taunts and guides you through the world. Victor himself is voiced by Doug Cockle of The Witcher fame, and in the Motorhead expansion you can hear the tones of Lloyd Kaufman – the man behind the Tromo film company, and long time friend of Lemmy. The rest of the audio is spot on with a good balance preset for all the music and effects. It’s been far too often recently that I’ve heard games with bad mixing so it’s reassuring that some still know how to do it right. From a graphics point of view it’s crisp, clear and very smooth. It’s exactly what you want from a game that demands visual clarity and quick reactions.
There’s a fun game in Victor Vran: Overkill Edition, one that initially reminded me of Lara Croft and the Temple fo Osiris, but then proved to be much deeper and more tactical than I expected. I got lost in the ebb and flow of the game as you clear area after area of monster, hunting for secrets and building your character up. It’s challenging if you want it to be, entertaining all the way through, and even gives you a wry smile at times. It’s also a game built to let you dip in and out so that you don’t have to spend hours on end getting to objectives… and don’t forget there’s co-op in there too. It’s a great package and value for money, definitely one to add to your collection.
A PS4 review copy of Victor Vran: Overkill Edition by Haemimont Games PR team, and the game is available now on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
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