09th Jun2017

‘Victor Vran: Overkill Edition’ Review (PS4)

by Matthew Smail

victor-vran-ps4-cover

If you’re going to emulate a classic series like Diablo, you might as well get it right. So many action RPG’s have sought to recreate the same kind of balance between combat, advancement and loot collection of Blizzard’s revered classic, but few of them are able to match the formula. Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is the latest in this long line of pretenders to Diablo’s throne, and you know what, it puts on a bloody good show.

The game structure is so close to Diablo, it might as well have been copied and pasted into some kind of procedural generator. The central hero, Victor, differs from those in Diablo because he stands alone as the only choice, and instead of different characters to choose from, changing his armour will dictate the kind of build players will focus on. There are a number of light RPG features that are unlocked as Victor progresses in level, including cards that modify things like health, critical damage or base melee attack, and access to a decent crafting system that becomes accessible several hours in.

Like all game of this kind, Victor Vran is played from a top down perspective, and there is a primary attack button that can be held down, with attack speed and damage modified by the weapon Victor is holding. Victor also has access to a number of more powerful attacks depending on his level, and most of these provide additional benefits such as armour piercing, causing fear or freezing enemies. He also has access to Demon Powers, which are powerful effects unleashed via an Overkill gauge, which can be refilled in various ways. One thing I liked is the ability for Victor to equip two weapons, which can be switched using the shoulder buttons – because each weapon has additional secondary attacks, this kind of feels like having two distinct builds available at any given time.

On the whole, levels are expansive and detailed, although there is a slightly amateurish hue to some of the graphical features that perhaps means it is a slightly worse looking game than many of its peers, however it’s a marginal difference that has no impact on gameplay. Games like this often suffer because of boring, repetitive enemies – Victor Vran is not one of them. Enemies are incredibly numerous, and as Victor ploughs through them, the combat feels meaty and impactful. Using a shotgun to dispatch the early spiders feels great, and green blood splatters and flailing limbs add to the visual excitement that this kind of game needs.

Gameplay is in itself unusually engaging, with a level of input and dexterity needed that is uncommon among similar games. Instead of simply flicking the right stick to dodge as in Diablo, players here have access to both a jump button and a dodge button, and both require more care to use effectively. There are one or two sections throughout each of the three campaigns that force some light platforming that I found unwelcome, but none of these areas were overly long.

On the note of those campaigns, just wow. Victor Vran features in insane amount of content, largely because this Overkill Edition is basically the sum of the large original game and two fully featured expansions. In addition to the base content, the Fractured Worlds and Motorhead: Through the Ages expansions are included, and each of these three campaigns is at least five to ten hours long, but all of them come with a myriad of extra features and modes that effectively extend the playtime of Victor Vran into – potentially – the hundreds of hours. This is the trick that so many Diablo clones miss, and because the content between each expansion is so unique (much more so than the difference between Diablo’s levels), you’ll have plenty of reasons to keep coming back.

Whilst I’ve mentioned that the graphics are a tiny bit subpar, the sound in Victor Vran should be praised, mainly because of the lead voice actor being Doug Cockle of The Witcher fame. Even if you do find the first hour of gameplay a little bit dull, you’re bound to continue on because of the rich promise that such talent offers, and you won’t be disappointed. Sure, the story here is pretty standard stuff, but when so much of the necessary content is narrated over the action, you have a much more engaging way to experience it.

Victor Vran: Overkill Edition was a surprise to me, because it is a great game, and it offers exceptional value for money. There is tons and tons of content, and all of it can be played via both local and online cooperative modes that further enhance the value. The loot system is well featured and expansive, and the combat is handled extremely well. Acceptable graphics and excellent voice acting round out a story that is hardly exciting, but often interesting and on this note, the Motorhead content is well handled and will be of huge appeal to some.

I really can’t think of a reason not to recommend Victor Vran (not that I am trying to) to more or less anyone. It’s feature rich and well executed and as far as the action RPG genre is concerned, it is right up there with Diablo. It does lack the big-budget polish, and I think it suffers from the similarity between Victors costumes as opposed to the completely different styles that Diablo 3’s heroes have, but Victor Vran does a superb job with what it has. On PS4 at least, Victor Vran is at least the second best game of its kind after Diablo 3, but due to its personality and engaging gameplay, some people might even think that it’s the best.

**** 4/5

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