It was quite a while since I had last played Victor Vran, but I picked it up again to see how Haemimont has improved their now fully released game. The very first thing I noticed was that Victor was now voiced by Doug Cockle, who is most known for his work as Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series. The next thing I noticed was that the gameplay had no noticeable difference.
In fact, the game was almost completely unchanged, and the only differences were the inclusion of voice, story, and small additions such as Transmutation—combining up to three items to get another, and hopefully better, item. Essentially Victor Vran takes quite a lot from the bigger predecessors of Action-RPG's, from the dark and creepy atmospheres of Diablo to the crazy amount of loot from Torchlight. The Transmutation system and even Victor himself is vaguely reminiscent of The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. In fact there's a secondary outfit that looks almost identical to the one Van Helsing wears. Well ... the hat looks kinda similar.
Combat was still just as fun as I remembered. Being an Action RPG that allows movement of the camera and freely jumping was a pleasant surprise, allowing fluid ways of quickly moving around the battlefield and over the heads of demon hordes. The fighting was all dependent on personal preference—every skill and weapon could be swapped in and out as easily as any inventory item. Ranged, close quarters, or magic, Victor is master of all and limited only by what the player prefers to do.
The story was new so I wanted to pay attention to that. Unfortunately outside of the banter between Victor Vran and The Voice, I didn't find much substance. Victor came to the Cursed Land of Forgettable Names in search of a friend and fellow monster hunter. Being cursed himself, he had to make sure that his secret was kept secret. Though, the secret isn't much of a secret considering his secret is that he can use demon powers to cast magic stuff and one of the vendors actually sells him demon powers but that's not important. What is important is that Victor is able to make the entire screen shake and lag with the large amounts of fiery explosions! But seriously, don't tell anyone that Victor can do this. It's totally 100% a secret.
Well, the story is pretty much a bust considering that you meet Victor's friend as a newly formed vampire pretty early on and then (spoilers) kill him. There's still quite a lot of game to get through and Victor's reason for staying is gone. Victor then decides to cleanse this land of demonic presence as a way of paying respects to his friend ... I think. It isn't entirely clear why Victor doesn't just leave; in fact, Victor expresses his desire to leave this condemned place more than once. I personally think he doesn't like being ridiculed by The Voice and just wants to kill the source so he doesn't have to deal with the taunting.
But this game is hardly finished, either. Victor Vran was scheduled for DLC even before the game's full release. Motörhead and Haemimont Games not too long ago have agreed to make an expansion pack called Through The Ages. According to Haemimont, "Through The Ages will feature a new story and a new world inspired by Motörhead's history and lyrics. The expansion will also offer new challenges, new weapons and new demon powers."
The developers have also shown a post-release roadmap showing off the plans for updating Victor Vran. All but two of the items are free updates, including an endgame expansion, The Cauldron of Chaos, a Halloween special, and matchmaking for PvP and PvE. Which brings me to the final updated point this game featured: the multiplayer. Playing with friends or strangers who randomly join the game wasn't exactly appealing to me, so I only tried out a little bit of it here and there.
Joining someone else's game was rather tedious to wait for, and when I hosted my game for others to join, only a few dropped in before quickly dropping out not long afterwards. I did notice, however, that players aren't limited to being in the same areas. One can be in the castle to purchase or sell loot or anything else they desire while another can be exploring a level in the same game. I also would have to assume that isn't limited to whether you can have one person in a level and another person playing a different level, but I haven't experienced that for myself.
There are multiplayer arenas for more end-game challenges, which are far more populous than simply having an open game. The Bottomless Pit is an endless horde arena where players can try to survive as long as possible in the PvE arena, while The Freakshow is the PvP arena where you duke out your demon powers against each other. There's a stark difference between the multiplayer in normal gameplay to these arenas, and it made me wonder whether this is rather synonymous with how multiplayer is used in different games, but that train of thought is for another station.
Overall, the gameplay was just as fun as the last time I played. The story fell flat but honestly the voice acting was superb enough for me to not loathe hearing the characters talk. The multiplayer didn't feel as if it was stapled on as an afterthought—the arenas are more than enough to hold up that argument. I wholeheartedly recommend waiting for a sale to nab this gem at a discount, but if you aren't scrambling for spare change like me, then perhaps the $19.99 price isn't an issue. What do you think? Did this reviewer miss something critical to gameplay? Did he spell the voice actor's name wrong? Perhaps he's just a n00b at ARPG's? Tell us down in the comments what you think!
It's a good romp run through ruins and wreaking havoc with demon powers, but does not provide much more substance than that.