A Devastated City And Desperate Survivors
Victor Vran Overkill Edition follows an enigmatic demon hunter by the name of Victor Vran. Even among the other highly capable hunters, Victor is unique: he has the ability to possess and use demon powers. Victor comes to the forlorn city of Zagoravia to seek out his missing friend, Adrian. Many of the hunters who come to city end up missing or dead, so it is up to Victor to uncover the fate of his friend.
Zagoravia was once a prestigious city that was renowned for its strong queen and being the birthplace of the hunter’s order. However, now the city has become little more than a graveyard infested by the very same creatures the hunter’s were trained to destroy. It is a place where only the strong and cowardly have survived holed up in the last remaining stronghold of the city: Castle Zagore. It is here that you will meet and assist the resilient queen in taking back her homeland against the ceaseless hordes of demonic forces that would see the entirety of humanity destroyed.
Is It A Problem If The Voice In My Head Never Shuts Up?
The disembodied voice which accompanies you for most of the game goads you constant, humorous wisecracks.
One of the most entertaining aspects of the story in Victor Vran is a voice which suddenly invades Victor’s mind as you begin the main quest. This voice will accompany you throughout the entire quest, and he will constantly goad you with jeers and taunts. The question of what exactly it is will constantly plague you as the player. Is it a new personality which has emerged in the fractured remnants of a damaged man’s mind who has seen horrors the likes of which few ever have or ever will know? Is it a demon playing games with Victor? Or is it a piece of his past coming back to haunt him? These were questions that I couldn’t stop thinking about for much of the experience, and this mysterious character was one of the highlights for me throughout the entire game. For the greatest effect, I would recommend playing this game with headphones because that really makes it sound like he is in your own head!
This voice will frequently pipe in at seemingly random times, but it will generally be related to actual actions you are taking while playing. For example, when you find a hedge maze in one of the early levels, the voice will question your competence to actually be able to complete such a maze. You have the option to jump over the hedges, but upon doing so, the voice will then jeer at you for cheating by jumping your way through it. There was also another point where I ran from a conflict to get a shrine, and the voice started singing at me. If you have ever watched Monty Python and The Holy Grail, you will almost certainly appreciate this reference. Please watch the video below to see, or rather hear, it in all its glory!
“The brave Sir Victor ran away. He bravely ran away, away!”
Victor Is A Fairly Fleshed-Out Character Compared To Protagonists Of Most ARPGs
One of the primary benefits of Victor Vran focusing on the title character is that the story ends up being more fleshed out and engaging than it is in most ARPGs which have a cast of multiple characters. While one might expect the lack of character options in Victor Vran to be a weakness to the overall experience, it actually ends up being strength in the storytelling department. By the end of the game, I found myself relating to Victor and appreciating watching him overcome the challenges he faces throughout the main campaign.
DLC Packs Offer Additional Story Content
In addition to the main storyline, there are two others from the DLC packs which are included in the base price of Victor Vran Overkill Edition. Both of these are unrelated to the main campaign, but you must wait to play one of them until you have completed the Zagoravia story. The other one, Motörhead, will take you through the war-torn remains of Earth in the aftermath of Hitler’s rampage. Except, in this timeline, Hitler emerged victorious, and Victor is tasked with removing the Führer from that plane of existence. Unfortunately, the story of Motörhead doesn’t come to a satisfying conclusion and ends up leaving much to be desired. But, in the end, it is only a DLC story, so this doesn’t harm the overall experience too greatly.
Interestingly, the story in Motörhead is inspired by the band of the same name, and it uses the members of the band as leaders of a rebellion against Hitler who use their unfathomable power of music and dastardly awesomeness to thwart the Führer at every opportunity. I rather enjoyed that way that this story used elements from the real world. It created a fantastic way for a rock and roll band to rebel against the worst kind of authority in the best kind of way.
The second DLC pack follows Victor as he explores the fractured remains of other worlds, but this pack is mostly present for providing randomly generated dungeons to players and has minimal story content.
Gameplay Inspired By Diablo 3
Combat in Victor Vran is fast and fluid.
Victor Vran is an isometric, fast-paced ARPG which will have you crawling through dungeons and looking for shiny loot while slaying countless monstrosities. Rather than giving players the autonomy to choose skills through a tree and equip them in any fashion they see fit, Victor Vran approaches the concept of character building through the loot you find. As you level up, you will also be given options of various new items or weapons to choose from, so this gives you some level of choice for building your character. You can level up to a max of 60. After 60, you will start gaining “renown levels”. You will gain no new attributes or stats for renown levels, but you can still get new choices of items and weapons to choose from with each one.
Each one of the ten weapon classes features a set of three attack skills to utilize. These will always have a basic attack assigned to the X button. Some of these have a very short cool down timer allowing you to do simple combinations while others, such as the lightning gun, can attack constantly for a short time until an overheating meter reaches its max. Your other two attacks are set to the Y and B buttons, and these help give each weapon a sense of uniqueness. The hammer allows you to hold the Y button for a charged strike that ravages entire groups of enemies while the B attack for the shotgun hits multiple enemies and grants Victor a temporary speed boost that enhances his running speed and firing rate. These attacks will usually have a longer cool down timer than the basic X attack, but some have conditions which allow them to fully recharge immediately. The sword’s Y attack, for example, will recharge immediately if you land a critical hit on an , so it will be greatly beneficial to sword users to focus on having higher crit rates to fully take advantage of this.
Split Timing Is a Beautiful Thing
“Several weapon attacks have additional effects when split-timed.” – Mnementh (developer)
Split timing is an absolutely vital mechanic to master in Victor Vran. Split timing is performed when pressing the attack button almost immediately after the attack finishes recharging. Split timing can have various effects, and the one I am most familiar with is the shotgun as that became my most-used weapon. By performing a split-timed attack with the shotgun’s basic X attack, you will put the enemy into a vulnerable state. What this status ailment does is guarantee the next attack will be a critical hit. If you build your character to have high critical hit damage, then by timing your attacks correctly, you can score a critical hit on every single attack. Additionally, the shotgun’s Y attack, Aimed Shot, gets fully recharged upon landing a critical hit. In doing so, you can land a powerful strike very frequently by strategizing the timing of your button presses.
Never Forget Your Demon Powers
Thrall Hulks are pretty stout demons.
In addition to your charged skills, you have access to demon powers. These are, as the name suggests, powers used by enemy demons and can be used when the yellow Overdrive meter on the HUD gets filled. Within the lore of the Victor Vran world, humans typically cannot wield these powers, but Victor has the capacity to through a soul-binding pact made with a demon. These come in 19 different varieties and can change the way you approach combat drastically. You will start off with Meteor, and this drops several powerful meteors down onto the targeted location. The demon power I ended up favoring was Shockwave which sends out three powerful blasts along the ground in front of you pushing enemies back while dealing massive amounts of damage.
Outfits Change Some Basic Stats And How You Charge Demon Powers
Victor Vran lacks the variety of character classes that most ARPGs have, but you are able to equip 11 different outfits that not only change his outward appearance but also grant him various stat boosts and other effects. One such outfit gives him a high armor stat and increases his health by 500 points while his Cavalier’s Outfit allows him to constantly charge his overdrive meter. These outfits won’t change the game massively, but they will certainly affect how you approach enemies.
Character Builds Are Reliant Upon Your Loot. Your Precious, Precious Loot
What is an ARPG without tons of loot to sift through? And there will be plenty for you to find here in the form of weapons, demon powers and destiny cards. Destiny cards grant you passive abilities which form the backbone of your character build, and they can also have additional random effects in the form of “wicked” or “divine” traits. These cards are randomly generated, but you will find that many of them compliment each other well. For example, I have one card which grants me 20% shotgun damage on landing a split-timed attack. With another card, any shotgun attack I use immediately after dodging will be considered a split-timed attack, and it also increases my critical hit damage by 20%. Another one of my cards makes me immune to damage while dodging. Finally, the fourth card in this combo has a “wicked” effect which gives me a speed boost after killing an enemy. With these four cards together, I can get guaranteed, boosted critical hits while maintaining my mobility then can unleash a volley of rapid strikes on my opponents to finish out the combo.
Also worth mentioning is when you attack rapidly with a speed boost or when using weapons with no cool down, the amount of damage you do with each hit will increase further and further until you miss or stop your attack. By doing this, I have made my damage from the start of the combo climb all the way from 50 to over 2000 points of damage per hit. Any time you have an opportunity to land rapid strikes like this, take advantage of it.
You are going to want to compile destiny cards that compliment your weapons. The legendary weapons have unique traits which make them unequivocally outclass most other weapons you will come across, so build your deck with this in mind. The most useful weapon I found was the legendary shotgun, Repeater, which has a greatly increased attack speed, reduces the cool down of weapon skills and heals me upon landing hits. When combined with the above four destiny cards along with the other two I have equipped, my Victor has become a force to be reckoned with.
However, this leads me to one issue I had with the game design. Because players need to work with what they happen to find, your viable strategies may become limited the further you get into the game. If you started the game wanting to focus on hammers and using the skills granted from them, you will have a difficult time doing so if you don’t happen to find a decent one. Your character build is more or less determined by the loot you find and how you use it. This is interesting in its own right, but it can cause the game to become repetitive if you end up stuck with a particular weapon because you don’t have anything better. I found my Repeater about halfway into the game, and I never had anything which I could viably change it out to afterwards. I had a lot of fun using it, and I could switch it out at any time with other items; however, it feels like a shame to have to weaken myself just to be able to use other abilities purely for the sake of variety.
Use Transmutations To Improve Your Gear
What Victor Vran lacks in character customization through skill trees and stat management, it makes up for in allowing players to improve their equipment at the transmutation lab. At the lab, you can make new weapons of a greater rarity by combining three of an equal or greater rarity, or you can add new properties to an uncommon or rare weapon by combining it with three specific legendary demon powers. For example, you can add knockback to a weapon by combining it with two Shockwaves and one Meteor power. You can add one property to a weapon but trying to add another will result in the first one being replaced with the new property.
Your legendary weapons will typically outclass any weapons of a lesser rarity, so your resources will be best spend on improving their stats and potency of their existing properties. You cannot add new properties to a legendary weapon, but they generally don’t need it. The base damage of legendary weapons also scales along with your level, so you don’t have to worry about your favorite one becoming obsolete as you progress.
Using the transmutation lab is going to be an integral part of powering up your character, so make sure not to neglect it once you unlock it at level 16.
Map And Challenges
The world of Victor Vran has a variety of levels that are interconnected directly or through dungeons littered across the map. The dungeons essentially serve as way points that can be traveled to by returning to the hub town then accessing the map. When you select a location to travel to or wish to enter a dungeon, you will be presented with a screen showing you what the place will look like, some enemies to expect as well as optional challenges. Some of these challenges can be quite difficult, but they often reward you with large amounts of gold, experience or items. The number of them you have completed is also tracked in your character information which can be viewed from the main menu.
Most of the stages also have secret chests which can be found by going off the beaten path or jumping through semi-solid walls. Again, like the challenges, these are not required, but you can get some useful loot by seeking them out.
After you complete the game, you will also be granted new Elite Challenges for each one of the game’s areas. I quite liked this approach to encouraging players to replay the game as the enemies scale along with you. It also allows players to revisit any location they wish in any order with new incentives rather than needing to restart the game entirely from the beginning in a higher difficulty setting.
“Victor Vran does not offer touchscreen support in any way.”
The stage select screen and the inventory menu can be a little difficult to navigate with the analog sticks, and Victor Vran sadly does not support the Switch’s touchscreen in handheld mode. This would have completely resolved this issue when in handheld mode, and it feels like a missed opportunity to take advantage of the Switch’s hardware to have a small quality of life enhancement for the end users. It is not a deal breaker by any means, but it would have been greatly appreciated.
The Five Hexes and Difficulty Options
Hexes can be used to crank up the difficulty, but prepare to die a lot at certain parts of the game.
When you start your new game and complete the tutorial, you will be given the option to choose a difficulty. You can choose casual mode, normal mode or hard mode. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, but hard mode activates five difficulty-boosting hexes and gives your enemies an additional power boost. The hexes are five inventory items which can be activated and deactivated at any time while in normal mode. In hard mode, all five are active at all times.
Each of the hexes grant players a 10% experience boost along with a 5% increased item drop rate. One of these hexes can increase the damage output of enemies. Other hexes can also increase their armor and give them regeneration along with increasing their movement and attacking speeds. The Hex of Tyranny allows champion and tyrant class monsters to spawn who are powerful and have the ability to use demon powers. Finally, the Hex of Pain causes periodical damage to Victor. The Hex of Pain can be particularly troublesome to use if you don’t have some way to heal outside of healing potions. For me, it became particularly viable after I found my weapon which heals me with every strike.
With the options provided by these hexes, you can customize the level of difficulty you will experience while in normal mode. Just having a max of a 50% experience bonus and a 25% item drop bonus may not seem like a lot at first for having such a massive boost to the challenge, but it certainly adds up over time. The hexes keep track of how many monsters you have killed with them active along with the level at which they were last activated. Having the level at which they were last activated displayed is the main reason I have left all on ever since it became viable for me to do so.
You also have the option to play a hardcore character which you can choose when you pick your difficulty. Just beware that if your hardcore character dies, he is gone for good.
Multiplayer Is Fun But Lacks Trading Options Entirely
Victor Vran comes with some multiplayer options allowing you to play locally on one Switch with two players or with up to four online. I did not see any options for local LAN, but you can always connect online with your local friends if you have the game on multiple Switches. However, if you want to play with two people on one console, you cannot access the online servers, so bear that in mind.
Victor Vran has some communication options with other players through a built-in keyboard, but this can only be accessed by entering the menu and finding it. It is sort of inelegant, but it is there if you absolutely need to talk to other people. Voice chat would have been a nice feature, but of course, that is more of an issue with the Switch itself than with this game. In the end, I did not find communication to be a vital factor in any way to playing online.
When you are playing online, your attacks will not harm other players, but there is a location you can visit for some PvP action: The Freak Show. Here, you can freely compete with other players after you have reached level 26.
One feature that I was sort of surprised was not present was the ability to trade loot with other players. The transmutation lab ensures that all of your loot can be valuable since everything can be used as materials, but it was a shame to not have the option to trade with other players or at the very least drop things for people to pick up. Even though you are fighting with other people, you are extremely limited in what you can do with them. It doesn’t make playing online pointless as it is very useful to have some backup, but I would have loved to have been able to trade one of my three Repeaters for another person’s legendary weapons.
You can access the online at any time by entering the menu and turning it on for other people to join your world. You can also scan through other available worlds from the main menus. When you make your world available for other players, the default setting is “Friends Only”, so you will need to manually set it to anyone if you want random players to join. It took me a couple tries to realize that was the reason nobody was joining my online games. You don’t need to worry about the host leaving the game while you are playing because even if they do, you will not be kicked out of the room. You will simply keep on playing, and it will seamlessly switch you back to single-player mode if all other players drop out.
Most of the voice acting, sound effects and music here are top notch. The music is orchestrated and recorded live, and the music keeps players engaged. I never found myself growing tired of what was provided in the main campaign, and there were some excellent scenes which were particularly endearing in no small part thanks to the musical track. Having live, orchestral music is important to me in a game, and that fact alone really helps push this one over the edge for me.
Doug Cockle and Lloyd Kaufman Provide Voice Talent To Victor Vran Overkill Edition
The characters are also voiced well with believable actors. If you are familiar with The Witcher, then you will no doubt recognize the voice talent of the titular protagonist of Victor Vran: from The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia’s own Doug Cockle provides the gift of speech to sweet Vicky. Additionally, famed movie director Lloyd Kaufman guest stars as the voice of the barkeep in the Motörhead DLC who is appropriately named Lloyd.
Do you like Motörhead? You will hear them a lot in the DLC.
If you like Motörhead then you will like the musical offerings in the first DLC pack.
If you dislike listening to Motörhead, then you are going to quickly become annoyed with the frequency at which their music plays in the Motörhead DLC and may end up wanting to mute it. However, if you like their music or can at least tolerate it, then it is fun to rock out to them while you slay demons and machines alike.
Visuals and Performance
Victor Vran is set in the bleak, devastated city of Zagoravia. The main campaign uses a primary color palette of dark, earthy blues, greens and browns to convey the desolate nature of the scenario Victor finds himself in. Monsters plague every crevasse of the city with corpses of townsfolk and hunters alike littering the ground. Buildings are in a state of ruin, and debris clogs the streets. Seemingly harmless gargoyles adorn the roads who spring to life as unsuspecting victims come strolling by, and enormous spider eggs lay in wait brewing giant monstrosities the size of dogs with the capacity to overwhelm passing travelers.
I quite enjoyed the look and overall visual design of this game, but I generally play games on my Switch in handheld mode. The first thing I noticed about Victor Vran is that the character models are a little too small to really be able to appreciate the finer details properly. Sadly, there is no way to zoom the camera in manually, but it does not interfere with the gameplay in any way. I had a great time with this game almost exclusively playing it in handheld mode, but I did get an opportunity to try it on a TV, and I must say that it looks fantastic on the bigger screen.
Mostly Smooth Performance
Even when things get hectic, Victor Vran Overkill Edition remained mostly stable.
However, there were times were the frames would drop considerably when in confined spaces with 4 players using lighting attacks.
Victor Vran Overkill Edition on the Switch runs surprisingly smoothly considering how hectic things can get. Even when playing with four players online, I found that it maintained a stable framerate for most of the experience as you can see in the first video above. However, there were times were the frames would start to drop significantly when four players were using lightning elemental attacks while in a closed corridor. It did not seem to happen much in wide-open spaces except when facing one particular boss in the DLC. It would also happen when picking up many items all at once after completing challenges or defeating bosses.
In addition to having mostly stable frame performance, I never experienced crashes or anything of that nature. There was one time where Victor started jumping around on the screen, but that was one brief oddity that only lasted for about 10 seconds before returning to normal.
Seemed More Stable In Docked Mode
While the game was mostly smooth in handheld mode, the brief experience I had with it on a TV indicated that the frame pacing issues were mostly non-existent in docked mode. I do not have a TV, so I could not test this extensively in the same kind of multiplayer scenarios as was demonstrated in the above video.
At $39.99 or £35.99, you aren’t going to find a better deal for Victor Vran Overkill Edition anywhere. It costs the same on the other consoles and on Steam, so my opinion is that you should go for the Switch version as it also affords you the ability to play on the go. The only other reason I could see to play this game anywhere else is purely if you like to play with mod support or just can’t stand the idea of rare slowdown which only happens during the most hectic of moments with four players while online.
At the price you pay, you are getting a very solid ARPG that allows players a respectable amount of customization and about 35 hours of content to complete the main storyline and the DLC. Additionally, you can squeeze even more content out of a single play through by returning to old levels to complete the post-game challenges. Ultimately, this is one game that will keep you entertained and is indeed worth the price of admission unless you just can’t stand playing an ARPG that isn’t Diablo 3.
Just don’t forget to bring your awesome hat, Hatman.
Fluid, Fast-Paced Gameplay
Combat Strategies Adapt With Various Equipment
Much-Needed Humor From Goading Disembodied Voice
Mostly Stable Framerates Even With 4-Player Online
Robust World To Explore
Frames Sometimes Drop Noticeably If Too Hectic
Menus Sometimes A Hassle To Navigate
Viable Combat Strategies Limited To RNG Drops