Victor Vran had its original release on PC in 2015, but Haemimont's RPG is only now coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, being adapted for console in a similar manner to Diablo III. It's an action-RPG that plays out from an isometric perspective, where you decimate hordes of enemies as you search for the best loot. As such, it's a good alternative if you like games like Diablo, that said, it's not fantastic.
Victor Vran is essentially an unlicensed Van Helsing, here voiced by Doug Cockle. Who is Doug Cockle, we hear you ask? Well, he's Geralt's voice actor from the Witcher series, and that turns out to be a downside. The tone and rhythm the actor uses for Victor Vran is very similar to the one used for Geralt, and if you've played as many hours of The Witcher as we have, the chances are you'll immediately be taken out of the game as soon as you hear him speak. Each time Victor opens his mouth, all we can think about is "oh, right that's Geralt's voice," which turned out to be a great distraction from what was actually being said.
The basis of the story follows Victor Vran, a hunter of demons and supernatural creatures, who's trying to find a missing colleague. As you go along, you'll meet other characters who will help you in your quest, but the storyline isn't particularly interesting, and the characters you meet aren't either. This doesn't really feel like a living world, but rather as if characters were placed in places purposely to talk to the player (although we'd argue that this is a criticism you could level at the whole genre, even if we have seen it done better elsewhere). You will find some moments of humour, but Victor Vran isn't a game for story, but that's ok, the same can be said of most action-RPGs, including Diablo III.
In this genre, what matters most is the crushing of monsters, exploring dungeons, finding loot, and evolving your character. There are, however, some limitations that you should be aware of. For starters, you can only play as Victor Vran, and you can't customise his look. All you can change in cosmetic terms are the suits (unlike other games, there are no pieces of armour but rather complete outfits designed for different styles of play). Victor Vran is also a character who relies heavily on his weapons. Having either a sword, a shotgun, or a hammer equipped will determine your style of play and combat.
Swords, for example, enable short-range gameplay thanks to the fast, agile attacks Victor can perform. The hammer is the opposite, replacing speed with brute force. The shotgun works best from a distance and is ideal for anyone who wants to keep enemies at bay. With this logic, it's convenient to keep in mind the type of weapon you use when choosing the suits and cards you'll equip.
In addition to the suits there are cards that are collected or won during the game, cards that grant passive effects to the character. You can increase the strength of his short-range attacks, reinforce his armour, or select from an array of similar effects. Initially, you can only equip one, but over time you'll be able to use more, and even a secondary weapon, so this way you can quickly switch between two types of combat. Between the suits, the cards, and the weapons, you can create a specialised style of play, or try to form a more balanced character. In addition to the abilities inherent in the weapons, you will also gain other independent abilities, such as the ability to summon fireballs that rain down on your enemies.
The isometric viewpoint of Victor Vran looks good on consoles. The fact that it allows you to rotate the camera 360 degrees adds weight to the technical requirements of the game, but for the most part, Vran Vran runs at 60 frames per second. There are some slowdowns here and there, but nothing extraordinary. As for the sound department, it does everything required to provide a macabre and sombre atmosphere, which is pretty much essential for a game about hunting the supernatural. If only Geralt's voice didn't keep pulling us from the moment.
This version of the game, the Overkill Edition, also includes the two expansions that have also landed for the already released PC version: Motorhead: Through the Ages, and Fractured Worlds. As the name suggests, Motorhead is heavily inspired by and made in collaboration with the heavy metal band, with suits and cards based on their albums, licensed music, and special appearances all adding to the experience. Fractured Worlds, however, allows you to travel to an alternate dimension, and it has been designed specifically for experienced hunters. Here you will find four randomly created dungeons to play through, and they change every day. You can also discover a new type of item (talismans), new enemies, and evolve your character to level 60.
Despite being a decent game in its own right, Victor Vran is not quite at Diablo III's level (which in our opinion it's still the best game of this kind, especially on consoles). However, for those looking for similar thrills, it is a valid alternative, with a price point suitable for the content it offers. The progression system whereby you're defined by your weapons and gear won't be for everyone, the design isn't always good, and some players may feel it's lacking in terms of customisation options, but at the end of the day, if you're looking for an action RPG to play on console, it's worth taking a look.