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Victor Vran

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: EuroVideo Medien
Developer: Haemimont Games
Release Date: July 24, 2015

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Preview - 'Victor Vran'

by Brian Dumlao on June 1, 2015 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Victor Vran brings a fresh perspective to the genre by adding a broad range of equipment and special moves that drastically change combat, along with a simple, but game-changing, jumping mechanic that separates itself from other action-RPGs.

Haemimont Games is primarily known for the later entries of the Tropico series of titles and, to a lesser degree, Omerta: City of Gangsters. Both titles are mostly city simulators, though the latter dabbles in strategic combat in the same vein as the Jagged Alliance series. It isn't really a studio known for action RPGs, but its latest title, Victor Vran, is just that. The developer hasn't really explored that genre before, but based on the efforts in this title so far, you wouldn't be able to tell.

The gameplay is easily familiar to fans of the genre and is presented from a shifted top-down perspective. You roam around dungeons and abandoned towns, taking out enemies with whatever weapons you can procure. You start off with swords, hammers, and shotguns, but you'll eventually find others, like scythes and rapiers. You can also use magic to fight enemies — as long as you kill enough enemies to fill up the magic meter first. There are hub towns with merchants who exchange consumables and weapons for gold, and the leveling system lets you choose which perk you want.

From there, Victor Vran makes some interesting changes that aren't usually seen in the genre and the PC platform. The most notable is that you don't get to choose a class. Instead, you define your class by the weapon you're wielding, and there are no restrictions as to which weapons you can and can't use. You can switch your weapons at any time either through a menu or by hot-swapping between two in your hand. In this respect, the loot system is more flexible than in other action-RPGs.

The buffs system is also much different from other games, as there isn't a skill tree or linear upgrade path to follow once you've accumulated enough XP. Instead, you pick up destiny cards that contain all of the buffs, like increased health or elemental damage. Leveling up lets you increase the number of slots for carrying these cards, but the rest is obtained through loot drops. Just like weapons, the cards can be swapped at any time, giving you plenty of options in tackling a particular area or dungeon, provided you have a variety of cards at your disposal.

Mobility is another change that is very welcome and put to good use early on. The usual defensive roll is present, but you also have the ability to jump at any time. You can do wall-jumps to reach higher areas, and your jumps can be followed up with a ground pound attack. For such a simple mechanic, it does wonders in this type of game because it adds a new defensive strategy to your arsenal. An example of how useful this is happens early on, when you're stuck in a garden maze. With enemies all around, the option of jumping over the hedge walls becomes viable and is a good way to gain some distance to regroup or pick off small groups at a time instead of taking on everyone at once.

Those three major changes make the game feel different enough from other action-RPGs, despite sharing a great deal of DNA with them. As expected, the game plays rather nicely with a keyboard/mouse combination, and those already weaned on the likes of Diablo and Torchlight will feel right at home. Surprisingly, Victor Vran also supports gamepads, and while it doesn't mean the game is capable of local co-op, it does mean that the title is fully prepared for those who prefer to play on the couch rather than at a desk. Thankfully, the controls are well done; all of the inputs are mapped logically on the controller without missing a function. No matter which scheme you choose, you won't feel at a disadvantage when navigating the busy menu system.

At this point, there aren't too many apparent issues outstanding, mostly because the title is still in Early Access and is rather incomplete in most areas. From what's available, players may not like that you can't really customize Victor beyond the type of outfit he's wearing. A bit of personalization is lost this way, something some players will have to get used to in multiplayer games. The weapons system is also pretty cut and dry, since you can't augment anything you pick up, making weapons more disposable. Beyond that, we won't know if there are any more flaws hiding in the game until the developers add more stuff.

For now, the presentation is good enough for the genre. The graphics aren't doing anything unexpected in art and lighting, but it is nice to see it match up well with its contemporaries in this department. It also does a good job of maintaining its frame rate when dealing with lots of enemies and on-screen particles, something you'll run into often since the game likes to pit you against hordes of enemies. The audio is more difficult to analyze, since the music doesn't sound like it is synced with the levels yet, and voices are completely absent from the current build. Still, the effects are good enough, nothing sounds out of place, and the use of surround sound is effective.

Victor Vran is a very interesting title. The emphasis on simplicity can be appealing for those who find the typical character management of other action-RPGs to be daunting, and the amount of loot gathered in this new system is generous. The more action-oriented movements add a nice spin to the basics, and the different buff system will be interesting once more time is invested in the title. For now, it's worth keeping tabs on Victor Vran.

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