Right, let’s get this out of the way up front: Victor Vran is voiced by Doug Cockle, famous for voicing The Witcher series’ Geralt of Rivia. This is both a blessing and a curse, as although his work is great, all I could hear throughout my time with Victor Vran was Geralt’s voice. His tone and inflection are exactly the same, and the character himself is essentially a Witcher, only in a more Steampunk setting. Wait, I just described Van Helsing, didn’t I?
Anyway, Victor is a hunter, paid to kill monsters using any and all weapons at his disposal. These range from shotguns and swords, to giant hammers and lightning guns, all with their own pros and cons. This is a dungeon crawler akin to Diablo, so get ready to fight swarms of enemies and loot their corpses for new weapons and gold. Lots and lots of gold. Seriously, I barely even spent anything during my playthrough, so ended up with hundreds of thousands in gold. It just doesn’t have any real use, because the game hands out weapons like Halloween candy to a child.
The reason for all this murder and looting is Victor’s friend Adrian, who went missing in Zagoravia. It just so happens that the place is currently occupied by an invading force of demons, so Vic can’t exactly go door-to-door with a photo of his friend, asking, “have you seen this man?” During all this, Victor has a voice in his head that loves to narrate his encounters with many of the beasties that accost our hero. This voice loves to crack jokes, oddly making pop culture references that are wildly out of place, and antagonise Mr Vran, all with the driest sense of humour. It does work though, and this dry (and often strange) humour runs right the way through the game.
This humour is at its most apparent in the extra content present in this Overkill Edition, specifically the Motörhead adventure. Yes, you read that right, I did say Motörhead. Yes, as in the heavy metal band fronted by the late Lemmy. This content adds new weapons in the form of guitars, as well as Monuments of Rock that see Victor fighting off waves of monsters while listening to old studio sessions by the iconic band. This extra content starts you off in an alternate World War II scenario, with demons and skeletons running around the warzone. There’s also an oddly camp Adolf Hitler goading you throughout, sending bombers on strafing runs as you run the trenches. The whole thing is as weird as it sounds, but it’s still utilising the fun gameplay of the base game, with the added bonus of a Motörhead soundtrack. And guitars that shoot out magical skulls.
I briefly touched upon the Diablo-like gameplay above, but I’d really be doing Victor Vran a disservice if I left it at that. It takes bits from several different dungeon crawlers, from Blizzard’s classic series to the likes of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Sacred 2 (both personal favourites of mine), and fuses them all together to form a kind of “greatest hits” volume. Control-wise it’s remarkably simple, with Square being the main attack button (hold it to chain attacks) and Triangle and Circle using weapon-specific special attacks that recharge over time. Every one of these attacks builds up Overdrive, which is the currency for your Demon Powers. There are several of these that can be found throughout the game, and they range from healing auras to straight up sunlight beams that burn through enemies, and you can eventually have two equipped at once. With enough Overdrive charged, these powers are incredibly useful during boss fights or particularly tough sections.
Boss fights, however, are the weakest part of Victor Vran. Unlike the fun, varied combat scenarios thrown at you during the rest of the game, the bosses tend to be tremendous slogs. The first one, for example, periodically spawns totems that sap your health and give it back to the boss, and I ended up simply running around in circles to avoid his attacks while taking down these constructs. Most others follow similar patterns, sometimes swarming you with smaller creatures (which can significantly impact the framerate, slowing things down quite a bit at times) just to keep you busy and drag out the battles. It just feels lazy, which is a shame considering how enjoyable the rest of the game is.
Each stage comes with special bonus objectives too, ranging from killing a set number of enemies within a set time, to taking no damage or using no health potions. Some introduce the use of Hexes, which are modifiers that can be applied for extra challenge, but you really have to be excellent at the game for that. This adds a bit of variety to each stage (and there are tonnes of those) and even a little replayability. Much like the games that inspired it, Victor Vran has a lot of content to keep you playing after completion, from the expansion content to the optional dungeons and post-completion bonus challenges, and will keep going well beyond the 8-9 hours of the base game’s story.
Bonus challenges for each stage
Fun, rewarding gameplay
Boss battles are huge slogs
Slowdown during particularly busy scenes