There are plenty of action-RPGs available for people to play right now, and this is a good thing because it forces developers to put in a lot of time and effort to make their game unique in a way that it stands out from the rest. Especially with popular action-RPGS like Diablo, Fate, and Path of Exile, it is even more difficult for studios to create a popular game because most studios like Blizzard have already done something that no other developer has. With that being said, Haemimont Games delivers splendidly.
When you think of action-RPGs, generally the first thing that comes to mind is hours upon hours of grinding away at the game in hopes of collecting some incredibly rare drop. Victor Vran doesn’t completely stray away from this aspect, item drops are still an important part of this game, but what Victor Vran focuses on isn’t the loot or the story line, but rather the action itself and the challenges that you can complete at every specific region in the game. However, before we get into the action and challenges that you can complete in Victor Vran, let’s talk about the story line first.
You begin the game as a demon hunter by the name of, you guessed it, Victor Vran. At the urging of Victor’s best friend who is also a demon hunter by trade, Victor travels to the city of Zagoravia. The city gives you the impression of what kind of city Dracula had grown up in Transylvania. Gothic churches, cobblestone streets barely lit by lamps and the eerie back drop of a completely full moon that never seems to set even after over twenty-four hours of gameplay. The only difference between Transylvania and Zagoravia is that the city that has been over-run by demons, skeletons, undead guards, gruesome spiders, screaming wraiths, and vampires that try to coax you into letting them drink your blood. While the story for Victor Vran isn’t too different from Diablo III or The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, there is something about Victor Vran that is stands out and gives you the feeling that you won’t find another game quite like this.
With that being said, let’s move on to what makes Victor Vran different from the rest of the action-RPGs. For starters, there are no specific classes that you can choose from. There are no paladins, knights, archers, monks, clerics, etc. You can’t change your gender or your character’s physical features either, so you’re stuck with how Victor Vran is supposed to look like according to the developers at Haemimont Games.
In a way, Haemimont Games makes up for this by allowing you to choose what kind of outfit, weapon(s), demon powers, and destiny cards you’d like to use. Depending on the weapon type you choose, from sword to rapier, to shotgun to hammer or scythe, you get two special abilities that slowly recharge once you’ve used them. For example, the shotgun allows you to fit the role of a range character that comes with a precision shot that inflects heavy damage, or a spread shot that deals less damage, but hits more than one target and can knock your enemies back. On the other hand, if you pick the sword, it comes with two abilities called Slash and Dash. Slash knocks back a single opponent and it will immediately recharge if you land a critical hit. Dash, just like its name, dashes Victor to the nearest opponent and dazes (stuns) them for a brief period of time.
If you have trouble deciding what kind of weapon you’d like to use you don’t have to worry. When you reach level three you get the ability to equip two weapons at once, allowing you to switch between slashing and hacking wraiths, or blowing skeletons to dust with your shotgun. You can also equip two demon powers, which are like mage abilities, and can be used as either an offensive skill to vaporize your enemies with sun light, or a defensive skill that will shield you and your allies. Using these demon powers requires overdrive, which gets recharged by using a specific outfit that you have chosen. The outfit that you choose can grant a better armor rating or an increase in overdrive charge when you land a critical hit while giving Victor a different look.
In addition to these abilities, weapons, and outfits, you have the option to equip destiny cards. Destiny cards are Haemimont Games way of giving you passive stats. You can equip several cards at once as you level up, each one granting a special passive that increases your chances of landing a critical hit, creating a shock wave when an enemy’s melee attack hits you, or gaining health with every strike of your scythe. Overall, the destiny cards give you an extra edge when you’re surrounded by over thirty skeletons and you need some space to get your bearings.
What really makes you want to play even further into Victor Vran isn’t the story line, or the ability to choose what kind of weapons you want and the demon powers you use, it’s the challenges and the action that comes with playing the game. As you progress further and further into the game, you will encounter numerous regions that you will play through as the plot progresses. At every region there are five challenges that you can strive to complete, and within every region there are three to five zones that come with five challenges of their own. Here are a few examples of the challenges:
- Slay monsters within 120 seconds (0/50)
- Slay monsters without using potions or demon powers (0/80)
- Slay 40 monsters without taking damage (0/40)
- Find 3 secrets (Secrets are usually treasure chests that have gold, consumable potions or an item of some sort.
Completing this challenges just makes the game even more invigorating for you, and every time you complete a challenge you can receive gold, experience, possible unique demon powers, destiny cards and items with special powers. Not only that, but when you complete a challenge you can finish an accomplishment for Victor Vran that can be viewed in Steam as well, giving you that warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment.
But what Haemimont Games does brilliantly is link the action of the game with completing the challenges. To slay fifty monsters in two minutes or less you’re going to have to blow apart a group of spiders with your shotgun and then switch to your hammer to blast over twenty skeletons to smithereens in seconds. Its state of euphoria that both Diablo III and Fate never could give me. It becomes addicting and as you get closer to the end of the game it becomes harder to complete the challenges, which of course makes completing them that much better.
The one of the oddest things about Victor Vran is that you will end up controlling Victor by using direction keys instead of the mouse. It took me quite a while to get used to, especially when I was surrounded on all sides by spiders that were attacking me in the beginning of the game. I would end up panicking, frantically slamming my fingers on the keyboard and clicking all over as my health slowly wilted away. Of course mouse controls are in there and work to some degree, but you end up using your fighting abilities to get you in the direction of where you want to go. Trying to jump using the mouse is close to impossible, as you must click as close to the edge as possible before hitting the appropriate key. Changing the camera angle is difficult too, as it seems the sensitivity of right clicking and dragging ends with you facing the same camera angle as before after spinning three hundred and sixty degrees several times.
The oddest and most comical part of all in Victor Vran is the matter of comedy that comes sporadically throughout the game in the form of the Voice. For reasons only known to Haemimont Games, Victor is accompanied throughout the game by a gruff voice in his head that has a smart ass attitude. The voice in Victor’s head tells you his name is Voice and from here he will randomly appear throughout the game to drop references to Skyrim, Ghostbusters and even Monty Python’s Holy Grail for no reason whatsoever. There are times when the Voice will randomly drop gold outside of a region that you had just finished completing all the challenges by saying, “I bet you wont go in there, you’re too scared”. At another point in the game he urges you down a dark tunnel only to encounter several skeletons that slowly drain your health away as Victor and the skeletons take part in a choreographed dance that is based on Gangnam Style.
Overall, Victor Vran’s action and challenges make up for the game’s faults. It’s much more entertaining to see if you can destroy over fifty spiders in under thirty minutes than it is to follow the story along as the Voice sarcastically tries to help you out. The game isn’t perfect, it has a few bugs here and there, but it is definitely worth the price of $17.99 on Steam if you’re looking for a game that you can hack and slash your way through scores of enemies while receiving gold and great items for completing challenges.