Well, you do now) first foray into the murky, bloody, button mashy, loot pooping world of action role playing games. And if there’s something gaming needs it’s ARPGs, because loot really does make the world go round. Shut up, it does.
Well, it needs ARPGs like Victor Vran, because reasons. Like when looking to redefine the key bindings and preparing my Razr Orbweaver and mouse for a sound button mashing, I noticed there was a pad configuration option. Diablo III on consoles worked incredibly well and it makes me a little sad that Blizzard have no plans to put the pad control method into the PC version, but that’s probably because it would take some major ground up reworking the UI and what have you. So having that in Victor Vran was a pleasant surprise.
Going by the boss battle in the first dungeon you encounter, the pad seems to be the control method that the developers want you to use, because dodging (mapped to LB on the 360 controller) is completely essential to staying alive. The addition of a dedicated jump button and mapping a movable camera just adds weight to the notion, especially in a genre where a locked isometric camera is the norm. How notoriously change averse PC gamers will take to that remains to be seen.
Much of the game is business as usual. You stomp through the various gothic looking locations, laying waste to all and sundry and looting their corpses for weapons, potions and gold. The combat is a little lacking in feedback, but is generally fine with you being able to switch between two weapons sets each with 3 moves. Dodge and jump can be used to ‘cancel’ abilities, and switching between weapons while hacking up the evil hordes becomes a skill worth learning to make the most of the cooldown periods.
There are no classes as such, nor skill trees. Haemimont have taken a rather daring approach, letting the loot drops enable creativity to take precedence in your builds. With the attack abilities being locked to the weapon types, the variety comes from mixing your two weapon loadouts. In addition, there are varieties of potions, outfits and Demon Powers (essentially super abilities) to equip into one of the two dedicated slots for each type. The downside to this is you have to wait for the loot drops rather than unlock them through considered skill tree management, but it has the potential to be a very flexible system.
The last component to the character build is Destiny Cards, which add variables like critical hit chance, extra health, extra damage and the like. Each one has a fixed cost, and you can equip as many as you want as long as you have the slots and you don’t exceed the amount of Destiny Points you have to spend.
Victor Vran is an interesting prospect. It brings some intriguing variation to a well tread genre in the character building, if not the combat. But there’s something missing, some spark that makes it fall short of being a compulsive bugger, preventing it from really sinking it’s teeth into you and refusing to let go. In its current state the compulsion to grind gear and replay areas isn’t there. In theory the challenges for each area are a good idea for replayability, but the rewards don’t make it worthwhile. Hopefully Haemimont can find that elusive compulsion with tweaks and balances to what’s already there.
If you want to try the game in Early Access you can get it HERE