Friday, August 24

Review: Victor Vran - Overkill Edition [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While a certain granddaddy of all action RPGs is making its way to the Switch in the not-too-far future, to this point there’s been nothing even approaching its level of quality or fun on the console. That has all changed with the release of Victor Vran, a title that is certainly aware of its competition and that borrows quite liberally from the Diablo series. However, what’s interesting is that in some regards Vran shares more in common with the original Diablo and its sequel, while Diablo III set out to chart newer territory in multiple areas. This allows Victor and the evil minions he faces to very much stand alone and distance themselves from the admittedly large shadow cast by Blizzard’s heir to their very popular franchise.


Getting right into the nitty gritty of what makes this game work there’s its very console-friendly style of action that is deliberate, often challenging, and carries a pretty visceral feel. While you’re obviously powerful, able to dispatch many enemies with the swing of a sword or the blast of a shotgun, the slight delays between swings and shots help lend a feeling of power when you then deliver them. A normal, strong, and then heavy attack, each with their own appropriate cooldowns, further lend to the ebb and flow of tougher battles as you’ll need to keep moving to evade enemies while your more devastating attacks recharge. However, the biggest thing Vran has more in common with Diablo II than its own sequel is the ability to shift between builds on the fly, and the power to let your gear define how you play more than making an up-front commitment and then being stuck in that lane through the course of the game.


It’s then where Vran deviates from the formula and charts its own course that things get more interesting. While you do level up over the course of the game, and there are a variety of stat boosts and perks you’ll gain along the way, you’ll manage your other perks on the fly using a deck of Destiny cards. These, along with your chosen outfit, will allow you to do quite a bit of fine-tuning to help the overall experience suit your own style, whether you’re interested in maximizing your critical hits and damage or being more defensive to help keep yourself alive. The other most significant difference Vran offers, and it is probably my favorite feature of the game, are the stage challenges that accompany each level. These are optional for the most part but rolling with the demand to work through a dungeon faster or kill enemies with specific weapons, among other things, provides a great incentive to keep the action fresh and varied, as well as challenging your skill. As if the base game weren’t enough, this Switch Overkill edition also includes the Motorhead expansion pack, which changes things enough up to provide an entertaining Game+ remix, complete with new monsters, a bonkers story, weaponized musical instruments, and featuring some of their signature tunes.


If there’s a criticism for Vran, the most notable I can think of is that the overall quality of its production values isn’t quite in the same league as Blizzard’s. While Diablo fans will tend to groan or giggle at the mention of the name Deckard Cain, a large part of the reason the phrase “Stay awhile, and listen” is etched into people’s brains is because of how well it was planned and delivered. By comparison Victor’s somewhat noir-feeling, monotone voice does work well enough but also isn’t in the same league. While performance is generally smooth and excellent the visuals do have some occasional rough patches but otherwise aside from the color palette feeling a bit washed out the title has come to Switch without and serious compromises. I would also note that some stages, due to their sheer size, can get difficult to navigate, and can result in you getting lost from time to time as well.


While it’s inevitable for Victor Vran to be compared to the series that obviously inspired it presuming that it is merely a clone or some lesser attempt would be a mistake. It may borrow elements, but aside from having great core gameplay it also does some things very differently, and even as someone who had invested hundreds of hours into the Diablo series I appreciate there being a strong competitor out there that has dared to be different. If you’re seeking some challenging and satisfying action RPG gameplay on the Switch, Victor Vran absolutely delivers.

Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • A versatile and satisfying combat system
  • Challenges are a great way to test your skills, encouraging you to adopt different style of play
  • The Motorhead expansion is a fun additional take, providing additional challenging thrills

Cons:
  • The voice acting and story elements, while reasonably well-executed, aren’t consistent in their quality
  • Large stages are nice but you can sometimes get lost in them