STAFF REVIEW of Victor Vran: Overkill Edition (Xbox One)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017.
by Brent Roberts

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition Box art Normally when you consider a video game purchase you tend to gravitate to games that give you an incredible amount of value, including gameplay length. Games that end up ultimately draining weeks, months, and in some cases, years out of your life make sense, as you want to get the most value for dollar. Recently Haemimont Games released a two-year-old game called Victor Vran to the price tag of $40 USD. Now, normally I'd already see warning signs everywhere; however, this time is a bit different. Actually, it's a lot different and let me tell you why.

Victor Vran is an action RPG game that is similar in scope to Diablo, an iconic dungeon crawler, loot focused bonanza of a game that draws you in and never lets you go. So, already you can get a sense for where I'm going with this. Victor Vran has utilized some of the greatest aspects and characteristics of Diablo and implemented it into its own gameplay, which automatically makes its' foundation one of the best you'll find in the genre. Normally you would just get the base game; however, this release of Victor Vran (Overkill Edition) is where you actually get two DLC content packs as well. While I would strongly, and I repeat, strongly recommend that you consider tackling these areas only after your character becomes a high level, you get a feeling that already you get a lot of content for your $40 + tax. But is it any good?

Without any hesitation, yes. It's phenomenal actually. If you're taking a break from Diablo, or want an incredibly well put together dungeon crawler, look no further. Let's start off first with the story. Actually, I'll give you the note card version. You play the role of a hunter named Victor Vran who is a little more than he seems to be. You find yourself drawn to the town of Zagoravia as you find yourself looking for your lost friend who was also a hunter. Throughout your quest for your friend you will find many twists and turns, and as you uncover the map you're also going to be introduced to something called "The Voice". Think of this as a witty, little devil on your shoulder, type voice that uses fantastic writing to deliver a performance that was one of the biggest surprises to me. With me being a Star Wars fan and hearing the voice say "Victor... I have to tell you something.... I. AM. YOUR. FATHER.......NOOOOOOOO" and I was in bliss. These types of moments are what give the little nuances of the game it's life.

Another time "The Voice" mocked me for finding a chest that had a regular item in it. It said "Oh congratulations Victor, you've found some trash. Let's see if you can find 4 more chests of trash, ok? I'll even throw in a pie if you do." So, I set off and while finding more chests I kept hearing about this pie, and then on the 4th out of five chests found, I'm told "My pie isn't a lie." and a smile crept over my face. Was the pie there? Was it a lie? Play the game and find out!

These nuances within the game really help Victor Vran establish its own identity. When playing a dungeon crawler you really only have to follow one simple rule: Do what Diablo does, then just alter it in some ways. It's quite simple that way and that's essentially what you have here. So, when you have such similarities, finding ways to accent the differences is ever more important (cue legal department phone call).

Now, the biggest challenge outside of the camera for a good dungeon crawler, or any game for that matter, has to be the user interface. For the longest time there have been very few quality dungeon crawlers on console as they have mainly been PC only, but now developers have found ways to implement the input choices found for the players and have mapped them onto a controller that allows the game to be played on consoles. To make this successful you MUST, and I repeat, MUST, have a way to make the controls feel symmetrical yet sequential. Let me explain. For instance, in Victor Vran you can operate two demon powers, and carry two items. Each demon power is mapped to the triggers, so LT fires one and the RT fires the second, and when it comes to items you have left and right on the D-Pad, so the symmetry creates a balanced gameplay that frees up the face buttons to designated attacks. I almost forgot, you're also able to carry and use two weapons. Using the RB you can switch between your primary and secondary weapon and use the corresponding X, Y, and B buttons for your new attacks.

I mentioned demon powers above and that's only one part of your character's outfit. In fact, Victor Vran makes it a point to focus partly on your character's outfit. Opposite of your health bar (again, symmetry) is your Overdrive meter. When this gets filled you can use your demon powers. Filling your Overdrive meter can happen a couple of ways. You can gain Overdrive by attacking and killing enemies (there's plenty of them around), or you can wear a suit where you're granted about 80 points of Overdrive per second, but your attacks no longer produce it. After thinking that if I were methodical and patient, I could progress through each section of the map and have a full Overdrive meter whenever I accessed a new area. With this in mind I chose to take a suit that filled it automatically. One other bonus here is that if you take the other style suit, and you fill the meter but don't use it, then after a while it will all go away. There are suits to modify your Overdrive, but those are considered Legendary outfits which leads me to my next section, loot.

There's a ton of it. Throughout your grinding you'll easily generate pages and pages of inventory that can be used for a couple different purposes. First off is the gold. Items you sell will bring you cash, it's not a new concept, but the second reason for hoarding all this loot is incredibly unique and that is the Transmutation.

Weapons, Demon Powers, and Skill Cards can all be part of the Transmutation, which is Victor Vran's way of giving you a choice of how you want to play the game. Transmutation is when you have a singular base slot that is modified or created using ingredient slots. Let's say you have four regular weapons that aren't really anything special. You can assign 3 of them as ingredients in their slots and leave the base blank. When you Transmute them you will get another common weapon, but with different stats and traits. If you do this for 3 rare (yellow) weapons, you will be guaranteed a yellow weapon, but also have a chance to land a Legendary weapon instead. Let's say you want to increase the damage of an uncommon (green) weapon, you would have to use the weapon you wanted to increase the damage of as the singular base, then put 3 uncommon or better weapons below as ingredients (they don't have to be the same weapons), and if you wanted to increase a weapon's ability you would have to use corresponding recipes with demon powers.

This is a prime example, and just a fraction of the sheer depth that Victor Vran offers to its players. Sure, you could just cash out and take the money, however with tremendous opportunities with Transmutation, don't be surprised if you find yourself with tons of pages of weapons as you combine and manipulate some incredibly powerful and amazing ones. One interesting note to consider, Legendary weapons level up when you do, so get ready for evolutionary weaponry!

Presentation wise, the graphics and the sound are befitting a dungeon crawler and provide not only individual characteristics, but a quality that you can see in every little detail. Now, I know I've been fawning over this game now but I do have to admit that there are a couple issues with the game, and one of the biggest involves the dreaded enemy, the camera.

It can get a bit disorienting when trying to combine the map system in tandem with the camera system, and most of the time you find yourself trying to focus more on which direction to go, than on playing the game during these moments. And should you happen to go under a bridge, or in some form of enclosed area, the camera magically retracts to literally a few feet above which then takes you out of your ability to see, well, anything really. The second issue involves the game slowing to a crawl at times and locking up on quite a few occasions. A simple restart seems to fix it; however, one experience I had where my character was going down the stairs, the game froze, and then when I restarted the game, I waited over 6 minutes, just to get to the "Press any button" screen you see at the very beginning. After I pressed any button I had to wait to get to the main screen and that wait time was over 8 minutes. I decided to delete the game and restart, and that didn't work. Next up, deleting my save file and the game and installing again from fresh, and include a hard reboot and BAM! It was back to business as usual, but I lost everything.

For dungeon crawling, action RPG games that offer immense depth, 4-player multiplayer, and a high replay factor that isn't found on many multiplayer games, for the price of $19.99 is hands down the best value for dollar game you can find on the console right now. If you really want a big bang for your buck though, for $39.99 you get the Overkill Edition which gives you two DLC packs that are loaded with even more content on top of everything found in the original game. While Victor Vran isn't Diablo, and there were a few hiccups now and then, the experience you will have won't be any less enjoyable, and when you mix in the online experience with your friends, you'll wonder where the last few days of your life went, and then discover that it was claimed by Victor Vran, and you loved every moment of it.

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.5 / 10


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