At first glance Victor Vran looks like another entry in the Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing series of action RPGs, but in reality it’s a very different kind of animal. While there are similarities when it comes to the faux-Gothic seriousness of the story, the overall look of the game and the reliance on pop-culture references for humour, the way the two games play is very different. Victor Vran is about combat, not about character building. There are no classes, no skill trees or unlockable abilities. All skills are tied to equipment. What the eponymous character wears, wields and equips directly affects the way he functions.
Victor Vran is an itinerant demon hunter, visiting the town of Zagoravia to meet a friend. As luck would have it, not only does Vran’s friend not make an appearance, it transpires that not only is Zagoravia infested by demons, the undead and other assorted beasties, it’s actually something of a trap for demon hunters. Why? That’s something for you to find out. It’s all very serious to the point of being camp, but ultimately the story is redundant thanks to the way the levels are designed. It’s a game about completing challenges rather than a game about story. Each new map contains a number of achievements, each of which is rewarded with gold, XP or gear upon completion. Kill 50 monsters without taking damage, destroy 200 pieces of pottery, don’t use Demon powers, kill X number of monsters with Y weapon – you know the drill. It’s a very simple mechanic but it makes you want to play better and experiment with powers and weapons, something that is incredibly easy to do.
Rather than having specific skills, Victor Vran instead has access to the skills of the weapon he is currently wielding. A giant hammer might have splash damage for a normal attack and ajumping attack and a charge attack as special abilities, whereas a rapier has a fast combo base attack, and a dash and bleed for specials. After a few levels, Victor can equip two weapons that he can switch between, giving ample opportunity to experiment with attacks and combos. In addition to weapons, Vran can also equip Demon Powers, special abilities that must be charged by killing multiple enemies before use. These powers include damage shields huge magical attacks and the like and are dropped by powerful enemies.
Rather than skill points, Victor Vran instead features Destiny Cards, magical Tarot style cards that gift the demon hunter with passive bonuses and abilities, such as a small healing effect based on the amount of damage he does, or a bonus to critical strike chance. Each card has a point value ensuring that Victor has to equip an assortment of cards and not simply the best. Combat is fast, smooth and addictive and the challenge structure gives ample scope for replayability. Victor Vran might not be the deepest game out there and the action can get repetitive, but it is hugely polished and a great deal of fun. DANIEL WILKS