Tuesday, 06 June 2017 00:00

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition Review

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The best possible evolution down from Diablo's gameplay

Two years ago, Victor Vran brought us the most action-packed, gothic-noir fun we've had since The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. Now Victor's got a guitar and a cross-dimensional golden compass, conveniently bundled together with the base game in Victor Vran: Overkill Edition. Victor Vran: Motörhead Through the Ages and Victor Vran: Fractured Worlds are your guitar and compass, respectively, if you're already a proud owner and looking to upgrade.

Haemimont Games — maker of Omerta: City of Gangsters, Tropico, and yes, Victor Vran — is an indie studio with the avowed mission to thrill, engage and provoke gamers worldwide” [1]. They've been around since 1997, and today they're Bulgaria's biggest indie developer.They've teamed up with the raw, no-remorse, yes-that-Motörhead band Motörhead [2] to show us what would happen if a guy even cooler than Van Helsing starred in Brütal Legend and kicked ass across multiple universes via the best possible evolution downstream from Diablo's gameplay.

Your keyboard and mouse serve you well in Victor Vran, although the title's intuitive and tactile style begs you to hook up your controller. Fully rebindable settings for either control scheme ensure your quality of life. You need that comfort and familiarity as you mow down hordes of enemies. You'll feel like a hunter refining your craft as you learn when to dodge roll versus when to jump, when to switch weapons, and how to use your abilities not only for damage but for movement.

You realize maybe you shouldn't have vendored that rapier

This title strikes a balance between imbuing you with a sense of power and mastery over the demons you hunt, and instilling genuine caution by punishing you when you fail to strategize. You might be chugging merrily along, owning the world with your hammer and shotgun, when suddenly a durable yet agile wraith comes along, and you realize maybe you shouldn't have vendored that rapier. Victor Vran's distinct weapon types represent not only different styles of play, but different damage-related and ability-based advantages you leverage against monsters. The guitar and revolver, which start dropping after you install Motörhead Through the Ages, add even more versatility to your arsenal in the game. Specifically, the revolvers offer rapid-fire ranged play and shots on-the-move, while the guitar utilizes medium-range projectile barrages and a get-out-of-dodge, damage-them-while-I'm-at-it, Lemmy-take-the-wheel charge move with an AOE.

Motörhead's frontman Lemmy Kilmister, the godfather of heavy metal, played an early version of the Motörhead-themed DLC and liked it. He was “very excited” about its development [2], and Haemimont already had his endorsement and blessing. The band's surviving members and friends surely aren't alone when they wish Lemmy had lived to load it up.

Motörhead Through the Ages meshes surprisingly well with Victor's character. In fact, it's the first crossover of this type I've seen that so brilliantly and smoothly reinforces the message and spirit of the original story. Victor's a guy looking to free himself, and when he fights for the freedom of others, you feel those echoes. I didn't expect to tear up when Lemmy “had to go.” Even if you're not a Motörhead fan, their tie-in will captivate you with the same energy and individualism so beloved by fans off the band.

What did you think was going to happen when you sought out all those magic glowing skeletons and plague wraiths and mage vampires? Not pain?

Fractured Worlds connects Victor to a labyrinthine network of dungeons full of challenges that change daily. He searches for pieces of an artifact there, an artifact that has the power to lead him to his heart's desire, finally breaking the demonic pact he struck long ago. The content expands naturally upon Victor Vran's storyline while capitalizing on its addictive combat and crafting systems. It's the straightforward DLC. It's the one we expected. It's great. Its maps tend towards sprawling layouts with multiple paths that encourage exploration. It's your encore of the original — refining Victor Vran's strengths, shoring up its weaknesses. You dive headfirst into loot piñatas and endgame character progression, all the while immersed in a shattered world's ambiance and Victor's wry, weary voice as he carries on with his quest.

Small hang-ups remain, such as the clumsy negotiation of your jumps with objects in the environment and inevitable difficulty spikes when you don't realize how hard that new monster is going to hit, or how hard monsters you've seen before hit en masse and in combination [EN: Sounds tower-defense-esque]. But that's life, right? That's realistic. What did you think was going to happen when you sought out all those magic glowing skeletons and plague wraiths and mage vampires? Not pain? Really? There's a reason why all Victor's hunter friends are dead. It makes sense in-universe for him to suffer occasional, unfair dismemberment. Guy's got a dangerous job, after all.

1. About (Victor Vran). Haemimont Games. https://www.victorvran.com/#about
2. https://youtu.be/fkCo5ksA168


The Verdict

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition adds innovative and enjoyable DLC to an already engaging base game. Fractured Worlds brings an encore of action and dungeon-delving with an increased level cap, while Motörhead Through the Ages delivers novelty and a tribute to heavy metal. Hearty new content strums all the right chords for fans and newcomers alike with mechanical refinements and expansion on Victor's story's themes. While you can pick up each DLC separately, thematic unity amongst the edition's pieces rewards you for playing them together. Smooth gameplay and strong momentum, framed by a thought-provoking narrative, render Victor Vran: Overkill Edition a solid addition to any collection.

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