I love dungeon crawlers. I played Champions of Norrath on the Playstation 2 for untold amounts of time as a kid, and since then I've been chasing that dragon, with no game ever truly filling the hole Champions left behind. It's a strange situation, because dungeon crawlers are one of the most routinely formulaic video game genres of all; one of few that does the same thing over and over on purpose. There's an X factor that comes with the territory, and it seems that dungeon crawlers can do everything right on paper, and still just not quite have that special quality that makes the great ones great. Victor Vran, unfortunately, does not have the X factor.
But that doesn't make it a bad game. It's a damn fine game, with a lot of really good ideas and strengths. It just doesn't quite get where it needs to go, and every time I played it, I found myself wanting to go play Diablo for the umpteenth time.
Victor Vran has you playing as the titular character, a demon hunter who has arrived to the scene of a massive demon outbreak while trying to find one of his lost compatriots. The game has a pretty prevalent narrative running throughout, with a few twists and turns, though it's not terribly interesting and pretty much just serves as an explanation for the setting. The voice over work is really well done, including Geralt of Rivia himself Doug Cockle voicing the title character with the exact same voice mannerisms as Geralt. The setting is well realized, with a Victorian England-style horror, but it, again, isn't terribly interesting just because it's been done so many times before.
One of the first things I noticed Victor Vran did well is movement. In the first few minutes, the game instructs you to have Victor jump to a wall and then jump off the wall to reach a rooftop. It sounds like a minor thing, and I suppose it is, but it just feels awesome the way the game handles it. It's incredibly smooth, and Victor's animations while doing it make you feel really powerful.
This movement is a piece of a larger puzzle, which are the secrets and challenges. Each map has 5 challenges for you to complete. These usually take the form of killing enemies with certain weapons, in a certain amount of time, without using potions, etcetera, but each map always has several secret chests hidden somewhere. These chests will contain high value equipment, but you'll have to pay close attention to your surroundings and make good use of the acrobatics to find them. The challenges are usually mild enough that you can do them as you play, but sometimes they're challenging enough to make you seriously change your strategy. It's a good way to keep the game interesting as it goes along.
Gameplay is standard dungeon crawling fare. There are ranged and melee weapons, with several different categories within. Each weapon serves a different purpose, but where they vary the most is in the weapon skills. Each type of weapon has three special attacks, which typically play on the weapons strengths and are vastly different from one another. This is generally a good thing, but it causes a small problem in Victor Vran, because some of the weapons are clearly superior to the others. It could just be personal preference, but in my entire time with the game, I couldn't find any weapons that came even close to being as effective as the Scythe and the Shotgun. It started to take away from the loot-gathering experience when I would find rare, high level weapons, but not use them because I already knew that it would be worse because of the assigned weapon class skills.
In addition to weapons, Victor has demon powers, which are super powerful magic attacks. You can find new and better demon powers to equip and try out, but as with the weapons, I had a few powers that seemed to me to be far better than anything else. I wanted to mix up the gameplay a little bit, but it's hard to convince yourself to use worse gear for the sake of variety. The combat mechanics are really solid, but, at least in my experience, the equipment is unbalanced and discourages variety.
The leveling system is pretty basic as well, which isn't bad, but it doesn't help in the diversity department. Each time Victor levels up, you will pick one of three rewards, one of which is usually a treasure chest containing a piece of random loot if you don't want either of the other two. Victor also usually receives some kind of bonus, such as more health, when leveling up. The loot usually isn't as good as what you've already got, so this feels like another slightly wasted opportunity. Having some skills to invest in could have helped keep the game from grinding until you get a better version of your favorite weapon.
On the whole, Victor Vran is a perfectly adequate dungeon crawler. It has really solid gameplay, but there's not much going on beneath the surface. Because most of the variation in the gameplay is based on weapon classes, once you've found the weapon that suits you, you'll be using the same six skills the entire time. Victor Vran is a game that puts all its eggs in the gameplay basket, and as a result has a pretty generic setting, story, and presentation, but the gameplay just isn't quite good enough to make up for that.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
One of my earliest memories is playing Duck Hunt on the NES with my older cousin. Pokemon Yellow and Ocarina of Time were the main time sinks of my childhood, and both series remain two of my favorites to this day. Xbox Live got me much more interested in FPS and other competitive and cooperative games, and nowadays I find myself enjoying cooperative games more than any others.
Aside from video games, I spend my free time writing, playing, and recording music and ritualistically binging on Netflix. View Profile