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Victor Vran: Overkill Edition (PlayStation 4) artwork

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition (PlayStation 4) review

"Victor has a nice hat. The voice in his head will point that out with regularity. "

After coming up with a couple DLC expansions for PC Diablo-esque hack-n-slasher Victor Vran, Haemimont Games decided to package everything together for console gamers with the game's Overkill Edition because that's how gaming works nowadays. I mean, in this case, I'm not complaining, as the original version wasn't on the PlayStation 4 and that leads me to assume I wouldn't have played it if the expanded version hadn't been released.

While not without its flaws, Victor Vran was enjoyable. It might not replace Diablo III as the game of this sort I'd pick if I could only take game of this sort on an extended solo trip to a deserted island, but I had fun with it for a good while before eventually deciding I'd had my fill.

Sure, the plot of these games often is a flimsy thing serving little purpose other than explaining why your hero or heroine decided that today was a fine day to slaughter anything in sight that even remotely looks hostile, but things like this probably do need to be touched on in a review. Victor is a demon hunter who has found himself in a kingdom utterly loaded with demons. With the "help" of a mysterious voice in his head, he'll kill his way into the castle, talk to the queen and then kill his way through a number of locations mostly inside the kingdom's main city in an attempt to dispel the curse that allowed demons to take over, as well as figure out just why he has this voice in his head and what its intentions are.

While there are a couple twists in the plot, that stuff is kind of negligible in comparison to the meat of this game exploring the levels, killing everything that moves and gradually building Victor into a powerhouse. The first step in this process: his weaponry. There are many different kinds, each of which possess a regular attack and a pair of special ones which operate via a cool-down meter. Also utilizing a cool-down meter are special demon powers and a few passive abilities obtained via equipping cards.

Weapons also tend to have special powers that can make them quite useful in a pinch. For example, I found myself using scythes for much of the game. They might not be the most damaging things, but they have a wide range of attack that allows Victor to whack multiple foes at once. One of their cool-down attacks temporarily turns him into a whirlwind of pain careening wildly through enemies. And one type of scythe is vampiric allowing you to regain a smattering of health every time you hit a monster. Very useful, especially since healing potions also have a cool-down period preventing you from speed-chugging them to nullify damage quicker than it can be inflicted upon you.

While it was tempting to just scythe my way through all opposition like the Grim F'in Reaper, Victor Vran does reward players who practice diversity. Every time you enter a new area, the game gives you five optional challenges that can be completed for money, experience or treasure. While many of these challenges simply require you to find secrets or kill so many of a certain monster, others have stipulations kill monsters with a specific weapon, don't use potions, beat certain foes within a time limit or handicap yourself by utilizing special artifacts that boost enemies or weaken Victor in various ways.

While it isn't required to do any of those things, the rewards can be nice, especially when a hefty dose of experience carries Victor over the threshold to his next level. Every time he gains one, he'll get some sort of boost. Sometimes, it's more health; other times, he'll get the ability to equip an additional weapon, demon power or card to give him more options when it comes to monster slaying.

As for the rest, it's pretty standard for a game of this sort. Victor will travel through a number of large areas that typically contain a few small dungeons. In each area, one or two of those small dungeons will be mandatory to visit, while the others are optional and mostly blend together, although a couple do stand out. I remember playing the two Baldur's Gate hack-n-slash games on the PS2. The second one had a level taking place in a mansion belonging to a Lich that was virtually immortal, pursuing you constantly until you found its soul jar and destroyed it and, as a result, the monster.

Victor Vran does that, but on steroids. In one crypt, you immediately encounter a Lich and then have to explore that place, fending off its powerful attacks, as well as those from a seemingly infinite amount of various skeletons, until you find its phylactery and attempt to destroy it a matter made very difficult due to the combination of it being more durable than most enemies and the Lich not exactly being keen on you succeeding. Up until this point, I'd only died a couple times in the game. That dungeon pretty much bludgeoned the concept of humility into my skull and things only got worse from there.

As you progress, the real heavy hitters get brought out: vampiric swordsmen, giant pouncing spiders and extremely durable gargoyles that LOVE to hover into the air and dive bomb you. It's a good thing that enemies don't respawn unless you leave the area or I may never have finished Victor Vran. As it was, I still had to endure a battle of attrition to get through.

But even when you've toppled the final boss, there is more to do thanks to those two expansions. One of them is basically more of the same, but with the music of Motorhead included, as well as a cameo appearance by deceased frontman Lemmy. The other, Fractured Worlds, was a collection of randomly-generated levels that Victor could go through in an attempt to build a machine that could remove his personal curse. An interesting idea that fell on its face due to how new levels are generated every day, so if you complete a few on one day, you have to put the game up and wait until tomorrow in order to continue.

While that is what caused me to decide I'd had enough of this game, that notion had entered my mind beforehand. Overall, Victor Vran is fairly short and that brevity worked in its favor due to the repetitive nature of slaughtering huge numbers of a fairly limited bestiary. The two DLC added a few different monsters, but it was hard to not draw comparisons between some variations of their scorpions and succubi and the main game's spiders and vampires. Adding in that DLC, though, had the additional effect of turning a game that felt like it ended before it wore out its welcome into one that just kept going and going.

And, man, some of those Fractured Worlds challenges just weren't fun. I had to deal with a boss-level vampire swordsman that regenerated health every time it hit me, leading to a "fight" that was me running away from it and occasionally using a gun to hit it from a safe distance in a battle that lasted for way too long. Between that, the amazingly durable elemental enemies and the growing frequency of monster generators that could litter the screen with powerful foes before I could destroy them, I figured it was time for a change.

Victor Vran provided me with a good time until that point, though. Haemimont did a good job of hitting that hack-n-slash sweet spot where you're constantly building your character via gaining levels and new abilities and finding new weaponry that allows a person to play and play without caring one bit that they're essentially doing the same thing over and over. Maybe I wasn't able to stick with it through everything it had to offer, but I did get through the main game and a good bit of its DLC before repetition got to me.

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Staff review by Rob Hamilton (October 07, 2022)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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