Victor Vran is something I am really hopeful and excited for. After playing over 1,000 hours of Diablo 3, I was not sure another isometric action-RPG could actually do that, but here I am sinking hours into Haemimont Games newest title. At this point, however, Victor Vran is a very bare-bones game, but what it could become has me anxiously awaiting the moment it is released as a final product.
The gameplay is the biggest factor in any action-RPG and Victor Vran has an uncanny way of delivering some old ideas in new ways. Instead of having a bunch of skills to choose from, the only attacks you get are based on your weapon. Each weapon has three different skills, but you can have two weapons equipped to switch between on the fly. It is such a simple yet effective system. I loved shooting from a distance with my shotgun, and then flying into the middle of the battle with the quick, sharp attacks of my sword. The third type of weapon–the hammer–allows for massive AOE attacks. No matter which two you use there are great tactics for effectively mowing down enemies. Although the system is stupidly simple, it allows for a great deal of flexibility in battle.
Then you have your “overdrive” meter, that fills up as you hack and slash hordes of enemies. Once filled you can unleash a massive AOE attack, a bubble that slows down time, or a shield that can protect your character. You can unlock more as loot drops.
What really drives character customization, however, is the destiny cards. You can equip two cards at a time, either through drops or buying them, and they can have anywhere from average effects to more health or gold drops to explosions on overdrive kills and increased critical damage. Playing with the cards is fun on its own, trying out new combos and discovering surprisingly strong combinations. One major complaint however is some feel underpowered. I stuck with the critical damage and explosion cards simply due to how much damage they accumulated together. All the other cards fell flat in my opinion. I hope the developer adds more cards in the coming updates, they really drive the gameplay and customization almost on their own.
One of the biggest drawbacks being early in development is the lack of any story. Being completely locked away at this point, due to not wanting to release spoilers, the game consists of completing goals in different areas. These goals can include killing a certain enemy, finding secrets, killing enemies within a timeframe, and many more. Luckily being a hack and slash game it can easily survive without a story and on gameplay alone, however I am looking forward to what the story is and why it is being held as a secret.
The controls and camera in Victor Vran are unique, but finicky. Instead of being locked into a view, like in Diablo-esque games, you can freely move your camera to get the view you want. You also use a WASD setup for running around instead of just clicking. Moving my character and camera together was extremely hard and frustrating at first, but after a few hours it became natural and actually felt really smooth. Also moving away from similar games is the ability to jump over objects and off of walls. It allows for a bit of verticality I have never witnessed in a game like this. With such a step away from familiar games, in terms of controls, it felt foreign and completely unique, in a very good way.
The graphics and sound are also well done for this early in development. The enemies are bright and easy to identify, and the dreary backdrops with bright pops of colors make a interesting visual feast. The sounds of the dungeons to the swords hitting skeletons are pretty much what you would think, they are well done, but the sound design does not stand out as much as the graphical quality or gameplay.
Victor Vran is a bare-bones game with many unique and well-executed ideas. With a little more time and content it could become a great action-RPG that could stand against the best, but it is not quite there yet.