Indie gaming at its best

  • Once again, a great game from an indie studio proves to be a thrill
Kathmandu

Aug 12, 2015-

Coming from Haemimont Games, a Bulgarian independent studio, Victor Vran can perhaps be best described as a significantly dumbed-down lovechild between Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and the Diablo series which, despite the dumbing down, still manages to blow the hardcore fans of the genre out of the water. 

Story

The game is based in the fantasy city of Zagoravia, which has recently seen an infestation of demons. Its inhabitants and their headstrong queen are desperate for help and that is where you, Victor Vran, come in. The protagonist of the game, 

Victor Vran is a demon hunter by profession. However, it is not your trade that brings you to this godforsaken land.

You are looking for a friend and a fellow demon hunter who goes by the name of Adrian. Concerned for your pal you make your way through the monster-overrun city while also helping the local citizens to get rid of the monsters—purging the land and gaining levels, trying to uncover its origin and the fate of your friend.

Gameplay

Being an isometric action RPG, it would be natural to expect Victor Vran to be a complicated game where you have to assign a dozen macro keys on your keyboard, keep note of your armour and the number of potions you have in your inventory and be very careful about not dying. However, you would be wrong: Victor Vran is nothing like this.

The gameplay mechanics are surprisingly simplistic and are based predominantly on a “hack’n’slash” combat system. You tap the buttons as fast as you can and the monster dies—simple as that...and it gets better. 

The player gets to carry two weapons that can be switched on the fly; each weapon has just three different attacks. The first move is the basic move: you cut or shoot your enemy one hit at a time which progresses into a combo move if the button is spammed continuously.

The other two moves are special abilities which deal heavy damages but take time to get off cool down before they can be used again. Then, there is a special ability you can use regardless of the weapon you wield called Powers. This Powers can be switched and can do anything from hurling fiery meteors, granting healing abilities or absorbing incoming damage.

It can be obtained by slaying monsters or “champions”—that is, stronger monsters. There are no upgradable weapons or slots where you fit a gem that gives you frost or fire damage, but there are destiny cards. These destiny cards grant you certain passive abilities which can aid you on your hunt; however, the slots where they can be equipped are limited.

Hence constantly switching the buffs is what you want to do during different battle scenarios. Obverse of destiny cards are hexes, which buff your enemies up. Playing the game in normal settings will give you the option to choose the number of active hexes while in hard mode, you have to suck up whatever the game throws at you. Very unusual to the genre, your character can also jump

. This may initially seem like a glitch, but it complements the level design and is absolutely thrilling.Victor Vran is like one of those old school games where you smash everything in your surrounding and collect gold, or like the Nintendo titles where the monster you’ve just defeated bursts into gold or experience coins. 

The main concern with not just Victor Vran but all types of trending games with such simple gameplay mechanics is that of retaining the player’s interest once you’re done with the game. I was not disappointed: the level design and the variation of monster attacks kept me busy.

Instead of getting bored with just a handful of powers, you later learn to improvise your attacks and time your hits in a beautifully chaotic manner. A guaranteed dozen hours of engaging gameplay is saying quite a lot.

Sound

This is where almost all indie games fare the poorest—but Victor Vran is quote the exception. The game has an awesome background score and fantastic battle music which complements the ambience. The protagonist is voiced by Doug Cockle, who also voices Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher series.

As grim as the story might seem, it is packed with dry humour and will take out more than a few giggles from you. The voice actors are to be credited for that and the writing, which often takes humorous shots at games such as the Witcher series.

There are times when Vran sounds exactly like Geralt of Rivia—and those are not mere coincidences. The star of the show, however, is the voice in the head of Victor who is supposedly responsible for all the chaos in Zagoravia.

The voice will constantly ridicule you and try to lure you into traps and will often confuse you...and he calls you Vicky, one of many reasons to find and stop him. It is somewhat like Handsome Jack from the Borderland series, but not overdone like Pagan Min of Far Cry 4. I have nothing but absolute praise for the sound crew.

Graphics

The levels have a certain Diablo-like setting, although definitely with more colour and excitement. It is like Nintendo’s take on Diablo 3 and it could not be any better. The graphics are stunning when maxed to ultra settings, but even in low and medium settings it does not look jagged. Even the low setting will dazzle you with its beauty, much like Bioshock. 

Verdict

Hack’n’slash combat mechanics often come with a load of fun and the obvious flaw of being repetitive. Victor Vran has a steep difficulty curve near the end of the game, but it does little to challenge the gamers. For example, death has no significance here—the only consequence of dying is to have to walk a few seconds of the map over again. 

Despite this lack of depth, Victor Vran is a must have game for anyone—be it the hardcore gamers or the weekend gamers. It is extremely fun and humorous. For those who do not fancy the action RPG genre too much due to its complexity will enjoy this game to the fullest.

Being an indie game, it is optimised to play well in medium-end rigs; the processor requirement is as low as core 2 duo with a minimum of 4 gb ram and 4 gb hard drive space. So you can expect it to breeze through most office PCs as well—not that I am encouraging you to play at work. Once again an indie studio proves that they are here to stay.

Published: 12-08-2015 12:23

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