Review: Victor Vran: Overkill Edition (Switch)

You don’t need to wait for Diablo III to get into some demon slaying action!

By Andy Hoover. Posted 09/24/2018 13:15 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Motörhead!; enjoyable combat and exploration; campy presentation can be fun!
Poison Mushroom for...
Campy presentation can be annoying!; needs more weapon types; clunky menu interface.

Come November, Switch owners looking for an action RPG will have an impressive option in the form of the now legendary Diablo III, but that requires waiting. Some of those gamers are probably looking for a more immediate title to satiate their lust for hack and slash, loot gathering action and that’s where Victor Vran: Overkill Edition comes in. The game definitely fits into this classic genre, but it manages to be more than just a smaller, cheaper knock-off of the Diablo franchise.

Victor Vran casts players in the role of the titular hero, a monster hunter living in a world desperately in need of his services. A message from an old friend and fellow hunter leads him to Zagoravia, a kingdom hopelessly overrun by demonic forces that Vran ultimately decides to lend his strength to. The ensuing plot is decent enough as it rides the line between Gothic horror and self-aware campiness. Vran himself remains a self-serious, gruff-voiced anti-hero throughout, but much of the supporting cast is largely playing to over-the-top stereotypes common in Victorian horror stories. At the end of the day, the plot isn’t meant to be the driving force of the game, but it never gets in the way and is often good for a few laughs now and again.

The real focus is firmly on the gameplay. Life many of its genre-mates, Victor Vran plays from an overhead, isometric angle that is fully rotatable on the player’s whim, thus alleviating any concerns about objects obstructing your view. Players progress through relatively open areas filled with enemies just waiting to be crushed as well as hidden treasures to reward those willing to explore. Your means of attack are a little different from similar games, however, as special moves are derived from the types of weapons you have equipped as well as a single spell slot. You earn the ability to equip two weapons at a time very early on, so much of the flow and strategy in combat comes from your choice of weapons as well as when you choose to switch between them. Abilities are limited by cool-down periods which are generally pretty short and continue to count down even when you switch to the other weapon, so combat generally moves at a fast and enjoyable pace.

Where Victor Vran differs from some of its contemporaries is its focus on the hero’s greater mobility as he has the ability to jump and roll away from threats. These additional moves help with both combat and exploration as it rewards faster reflexes and opens up exploration a little more. There’s even a wall jump ability which feels like a rather odd feature in this type of game, but it both expands traversal and gives you another factor to consider when hunting down each level’s many secrets. By no means does this redefine the genre or distinctly raise Victor Vran above all its peers, but it certainly makes the overall experience more unique and enjoyable.

Of course, the biggest reasons to slaughter bad guys, hunt down secrets, and complete extra objectives is the loot you gather as a reward. This comes in the form of new spells, stat and passive ability boosting cards, and new weapons. Unfortunately, getting new weapons isn’t quite as exciting as it should be. There are only ten types of weapons in the game and the various iterations of each type play pretty much the same and feature the same abilities aside from a few extra perks and different stats. While each weapon has its own utility and is generally fun to use, a little greater variety or more abilities would have definitely been a welcome addition. Furthermore, the screen for reviewing and equipping gear is actually surprisingly confusing and a bit of a pain to navigate.

Visually, the game will definitely look familiar for those who have poured hours into similar titles, but it still manages to look pretty good. Up close, you’ll spot low resolution textures and many simple character models, but most of the time you’ll be pleased by the generally solid, if not familiar, art direction as well as the large groups of enemies that often flood the screen. Considering the setting, the main campaign doesn’t necessarily offer much in the way of diverse or unique art direction, but the game includes two other campaigns that offer some additional color and settings that definitely improve the overall package.

Speaking of those campaigns, one is Fractured Worlds, another somewhat serious story that delves deeper into more fantasy ideas and settings. The other one is much more interesting as it looks to classic metal band Motörhead for inspiration. This campaign moves everything to a setting more reminiscent of either World War, throws some great Motörhead tunes into especially heated battles, and features the band’s iconic (though now deceased) frontman, Lemmy Kilmister, as a dimension-hopping, demon slaying badass. Oh, and it adds guitars as a weapon. In other words, it’s pretty ridiculous but hugely entertaining. Another nice feature is the option to jump between the campaigns at any time while retaining your level and inventory, so if you ever tire of one you can hop into another.

While the Motörhead tunes are the auditory highlight of the package, the rest of the soundscape manages to pull its weight as well. The original soundtrack is pretty good despite not really doing anything overly original or exciting. The voice acting might be somewhat divisive as it too often leans heavily into the aforementioned campiness, except for Victor who of course growls out every line like so many other machismo-driven video game protagonists. The sound effects for hacking and slashing your way through baddies are perfectly serviceable.

It’s highly unlikely that Victor Vran will be remembered as a groundbreaking title a few years down the road, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a really solid game here and now. The core gameplay is built on the solid foundation of its genre’s forefathers while adding some of its own ideas to make its titular hero feel a little more agile in combat and exploration. The presentation is also quite solid, though some might disagree on how it chooses to balance the campier and more serious sides of its take on Gothic horror. Of course, the argument for this version of the game is improved thanks to the fact it includes two solid expansions, one of which instantly makes the game better thanks to the presence of Motörhead!

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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