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Victor Vran (PC) artwork

Victor Vran (PC) review

"A Streamlined Game with Hardcore Demands"

Victor Vran is something that could be considered a classic if it was tailored for both the devoted audience and casual players. It's the deviations from what players expect to enjoy from ARPGs that may turn some away.

On a second-look, I began to appreciate the thought put into the mechanics beneath the surface. Unfortunately, it's that unclear barrier that makes the difference between simply playing the game and mastering it.

The "Stagnant" Progression

Progression in Victor Vran often feels stagnant. It's not that there is no manner to improve yourself over time; the problem is that your character does not show gradual changes as you play. The result is everything may feel the same from beginning to end. Improving one's character, however, is entirely dependent on the player's involvement. That is the crux of the progression system that may be to some players liking.

Leveling up unlocks new systems to experiment with such as passive buffs, which are balanced by a points system (Destiny Cards). Or you may unlock a secondary weapon, item and special ability slot. Or you may unlock other additions like the transmutation system for improving weapons with junk and difficulty modifiers to get better loot to drop (Hexes). Even for cosmetic options you have to unlock a new outfit by leveling up your character.

The obvious problem is that these are all options, options which you may or may not care to invest into first. Victor Vran expects you to experiment with these additional systems as the game is tailored from its weapons, not its classes, to make your playstyle.

Zero Classes, All Tailored Adjustments

Weapons play a bigger role in Victor Vran than in any other ARPG. The make-or-break deal is whether or not you like the weapon presets idea.

Instead of providing stat and attack speed differences, each weapon has a specific playstyle in mind. Each weapon provides three active skills (one standard attack, two specials) centered around one strategy. Later on, you'll be able to unlock the full skill-bar of ten skills with two weapon presets and two additional abilities (Demon Powers).

The general idea is that this change will let you master a weapon from the get-go. The system also allows you to freely switch up your playstyle without respecializing your character at any point.

In total from beginning to end, there are only eight weapons (and about the same number of Demon Powers): Swords, Hammers, Scythes, Rapiers, Shotguns, Lightning Guns, Mortar Guns, Tomes. Your options are even more limited if that playstyle (or preset of skills) isn't something you enjoy, which is bound to happen for at least one weapon.

The biggest crutches to this system are the limited variety in weapons and the fact that each weapon has one specific playstyle. There simply isn't enough of a weapon diversity to offer casual fans another reason to try a weapon out if they don't like it. Instead, you have to find what weapon suits you best--and if you combine weapon's abilities together like the shotgun's speed boost with the hammer's slow attacks, then you can get some interesting weapon synergy.

This system could be fixed if the game offered new presets for weapons. Anything to alleviate the tediousness of spamming the same three skills and to give you some sense of progression towards the late-game.

However, it's Victor Vran's commitment to its unique build system that really sells the idea that an awareness of maximizing your playstyle is needed from both your skill and your stats.

The Only Passive System That's Not All Boring

If you take a glance at this list, you'd be forgiven thinking these things are unnecessary to pay attention to as you play:

The reality is that is your source of builds in VV, and if you want to play the game properly you'll have to figure out what works with your playstyle (and weapons). Even on normal difficulty, the difficulty spikes will force you to pay attention to this system.

Some cards provide basic stat increases while others give flashier effects and added benefits like providing an explosion for every critical hit. Some will give you weapon modifiers to boost their potential.Some of which will help you stay alive by siphoning off health with each hit or kill.

There are also random effects (Divine or Wicked) that make lower-number cards worth as much as or more than higher-number cards. This system is balanced by the limited number of points you have (Destiny Points), so you have to take the time to figure out what selection of buffs best works for you.

The end result to all this complicated mess of a system is that you'll probably find as much complexity as you would in most other ARPGs. The question is, and what I am coming back to in this review, "Will you want to invest any time into figuring it out?"

A Streamlined Game with Hardcore Demands

Again, you have to invest a lot in this non-casual-friendly system to play properly and to also understand its appeal. That is something that should be addressed by Haedemont in an expansion or sequel as other dungeon-crawlers provide simpler systems, though they may be more or less complex than Victor Vran.

Although I would bemoan the idea of simplifying a game to be more accessible, I don't think Victor Vran does enough to keep the interest of more casual players to keep playing. Cooperative mode with 2 - 4 players may be enough to entice some players.

At the same time, I also don't think the game has enough of a lasting appeal to devoted fans. The limitations set by the game's weapon, class and skill system may be too simplistic for some players.

By no means is there any shortage of content: There are some unique legendary joke weapons, there are extra optional objectives and difficulty modifiers, and a hard mode. However, unless you enjoy restarting challenges such as avoiding taking any damage, I don't think there's as much of a lasting appeal to Victor Vran.

So in the end, we have a game that is great to play and fun for some time, but it suffers from engaging with either the most devoted of fans to the most casual-goers. If anything keeps Victor Vran short of excellence, it's that it innovates for all but it doesn't satisfy everyone.


Brian's avatar
Community review by Brian (April 08, 2016)

Current interests: Strategy/Turn-Based Games, CRPGs, Immersive Sims, Survival Solo Games, etc.

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