In the world of video games, the popularity of specific genres seems to wax and wane. One year, we’re flooded with roguelikes, and then there will be a couple of years where shooters dominate the hobby. Despite this ebb and flow, action RPGs are an evergreen staple, with new variations on the genre appearing regularly on PC, consoles, and even mobile devices. While most gamers would probably agree that the Diablo franchise is the gold standard, games like Haemimont’s Victor Vran can–if well executed–carve out a nice little niche for themselves.
Although still in early access, missing a complete single player story, and with a few areas walled off from exploration, Victor Vran is already an enjoyable and addictive addition to the genre. Eschewing some of the fetish-level loot collection and character customization of some action-RPGs, Victor Vran adds depth to its gameplay via level challenges (“kill 70 enemies without taking damage”) and Destiny cards that add special abilities or even amp up the difficulty.
Not unlike the Van Helsing action RPGs, Victor Vran is set in a fantasy-Steampunk world, where shotguns and rifles are wielded alongside the more usual hammers, swords, spells, and knives. While the weapons themselves can’t be upgraded, there is the expected progression of ever more powerful melee, magical, and ranged weaponry. Each weapon has a variety of attacks, including some form of wide-area effect. This is important, as Victor Vran‘s enemies are a social lot of miscreants, always appearing in groups. Crowd management is an integral form of just about every encounter.
As Diablo on the consoles proved, action RPGs can work just fine with a controller and don’t need to be a carpal tunnel inducing clickfest. Victor Vran is controller friendly, though here and there a big of sluggishness crept into the controls. On the whole, though, combat is exciting and varied, with a decent dose of strategy mixed in and the necessity of switching between ranged and melee weapons an ongoing consideration.
With a generally colorful and detailed artistic style, impressive lighting and spell effects, and sprawling level design, Victor Vran is already a pretty polished product, much more so than many other Early Access titles. Where the game loses some points–and to be fair, I haven’t seen everything–is that the enemies and setting don’t stray much from very familiar models. From the town hub with its vendors to the waves of oversized spiders, spectral casters, and sword-packing skeletons, Victor Vran doesn’t think too far outside the box.
A constant stream of additions, patches, and gameplay tweaks are moving Victor Vran towards completion, but even in its present state, the game is fun, addictive, and highly polished. It may lack a bit of imagination, but the game is definitely on track to being one of the better action RPGs of the past couple years.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”