Forget being the hunted. Become the Hunter and make the undead wish they had never risen from their graves. Fight demons, slay monsters and boogie with dancing skeletons. Here is our Victor Vran: Overkill Edition review for Nintendo Switch.
I have been waiting for what has felt like an age to finally be able to play Victor Vran: Overkill Editionon my Nintendo Switch. Sure, I could have got myself a PS4 or a Steam account but seeing as I play most of my games away from a TV or from home, getting Victor Vran for Switch was more practical for me. Developed by Haemimont Games and published globally by Wired Productions, Victor Vran was originally released on Steam back in 2015. The game saw a new lease of life on Xbox One and PS4 and came packaged with the Fractured Worlds and Motörhead: Through The Ages DLC and was rebranded as Victor Vran: Overkill Edition. Now in 2018, it is the Nintendo Switch’s turn and Victor Vran: Overkill Edition can now be played anytime, anywhere.
Victo Vran follows the titular hero, a demon hunter on his search for his friend Adrian, who has gone missing in the distraught city of Zagoravia. Vran discovers that the city has fallen to a terrible curse that has allowed the undead to wreak havoc and trap the few remaining survivors of the city inside the city’s castle. After multiple encounters with the Queen Katarina and the benevolent spirit of Tzar Borimir, Vran learns the reason behind the uprising of the undead and why monsters and demons have come to lay waste to Zagoravia. He decides to stay and fight as his duty as a demon hunter to put an end to the curse that has fallen over Queen Katarina and Zagoravia.
The story sounds reasonably decent and it would probably be enough for a Hollywood bigwig to see dollar signs. The truth is though, it falls a little flat for a game that is not so much story driven but gameplay driven. You will spend most of your time completing challenges and finding secrets than you will following the story by getting to point A to B as quickly as possible.
Most of the story is told through narration with some information being drip fed by interacting with NPC’s. There are very few actual cutscenes in the game which are displayed like an animated comic book with small animations like pan shots and minor visual effects. Boss Battles introductions are the few cutscenes that feature full animation. NPC interaction involves a series of text boxes with an image of the character talking at the time. Voice acting is included but it is quicker to read and you can skip through conversations at any time. The text is easy to read, even on the screen in handheld mode.
The voice acting is quite well done though you may get fed up a little with “The Voice” The problem is not so much the voice itself but the lines he was given to narrate. They can come off as corny at times and in an attempt to break the fourth wall, while it does help include the player with some of the “in-house jokes” they have no relevance to the game or genre that the player is currently playing. A Star Wars joke in a horror action game doesn’t really make sense. If they were to bring up Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe and H.P Lovecraft exchanging horror ideas in a bar whilst undead, that would definitely be more fitting.
Though I wouldn’t call Victor Vran: Overkill Edition a very visually stunning game, it certainly is one of the best looking on Switch. Not exactly 1080p HD but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter. With so much happening on the screen, the keen eye for detail will hardly have a chance to nitpick any craggy ends or poorly rendered models. Music, on the other hand, is very well done and in keeping with the theme of the game. Where it truly ups the ante though is in the Motörhead: Through The Ages DLC. The British Rock Band Motörhead collaborated with Haemimont Games and helped create a truly heavy metal experience complete with music performed by the band. You even get to use a guitar as a weapon and really show the servants of hell who’s boss.
As regards to gameplay, Victor Vran is an isometric, top-down, third-person ARPG. It shares many elements with games like Diablo and Titan Quest yet down in a way that doesn’t focus too much on complicated skill trees and classes. Instead, you can cater your own experience by equipping weapons, items, demon powers, destiny cards of your own choosing. There is a leveling up system that grants you access to certain features like transmutation, which allows you to combine your weapons and other items in your inventory in order to make them stronger and more effective against more powerful enemies.
You are a one-man army that must combine your skills with your demon powers to lay waste to every monster that looks at you the wrong way. in the beginning, you will normally have to take on about 10 or so enemies and you rarely get overwhelmed. As you venture deeper into the game. Enemies swarm you in epic proportions but I have never experienced any noticeable frame rate drops and with the ease of changing between 2 weapons with a single button, you can mix up your style of attack, opting for defensive ranged attacks or the more devastating melee attacks.
There are at least 7 different weapons ranging from swords, hammers and shotguns to Scythes, Electric guns and Guitars. You can find weapons in chests, by slaying monsters or purchasing them by Traders. There are also a number of demon powers you can acquire and use to return the stakes to your favour. Once your overdrive is powered up, you can unleash some devastating attacks to obliterate weak enemies or severely damage tougher ones.
Not all demon powers are aggressive, as some are passive attacks and can help regenerate health, cast a protective shield over you are hinder enemies as opposed to hurt them. There are also destiny cards that also give you certain perks apart from your demon powers and weapons. Destiny cards can increase your strength, health, recovery among other things. You can’t equip too many destiny cards from the get-go as slots are locked but as you level up, you will unlock the slots. Sometimes, you can also earn points that allow you to use better cards.
There is a surprising amount of depth to personalizing your character. Aside from the destiny cards, demon powers and weapons, The type of outfit you wear can also alter how you gain overdrive and other settings. There are also hexes that you can activate at any time to make enemies stronger and more challenging. This is without choosing a difficulty mode, of which there are three: Casual, Normal and Hardcore. The Fractured Worlds and Motörhead: Through The Ages content can be played at any time and will not affect your progress in the other modes. You can bounce between all three whilst maintaining all your gear and loadout no problem.
Each level has 5 challenges which you can tackle in any order or not at all, they can reward you with coins, items or experience and are accomplished by meeting the requirements. Some challenges even require the use of hexes. Don’t worry if you don’t complete all the challenges the first time around. Grind up until you have a more powerful character and then go back and pick through each challenge later. You can also find a number of secrets in the form of hidden chests on each level. The number of secrets per level do vary but the demon head in the middle of the life meter and overdrive bar glows red when secrets are near.
You don’t have to go it alone either, two players can play on a single console or up to four demon hunters can team up online. The more the merrier and with so much mayhem and destruction going on, you can blast through enemies no hassle and still have time to go to the pub afterwards. When playing online, you can choose to join other players on their adventures or have them join your own. You can even create private rooms for just your friends and yourself. You are not limited to playing the same level as your friends either and just as easily go wherever you want without being yanked out of a level just because your friend wanted to return to the hub.
There are many types of enemies, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Skeletons can raise back from the dead if not overkilled the first time around, Wraiths are quick moving and can use an array of powers to give you a hard time. Spiders tend to swarm you and use ranged attacks. Champion versions of most enemies also exist and are a lot stronger and tougher to beat down There are plenty more creatures of the night to deal with and having the right weapon with the necessary effect boost is certainly handy when things get tricky.
To be fair, I have had quite a fluid experience as regards to controls. That’s not to say that they are perfect, they are responsive and but aiming can be a little tricky sometimes. Some weapons loosely lock on to the nearest enemy you are looking at. Other weapons are more point blank and rely on your careful caressing of the joystick to make your attacks hit home. The Lightning Gun and Tomes are prime examples that need a delicate touch. You can evade most attacks from enemies by jumping or dodging. Not all attacks are easy to avoid and you will get hit a lot, so remember to pack plenty of potions for deciding to take on some big bads.
I have not found any issues that would ‘break’ the game but i did find a particular issue with getting trapped within walls and buildings. This particular glitch would come about whilst I was looking for the secret chests and when seeing an opening that looks like you can go through it. I would then find myself stuck inside the building or wherever I found myself trapped and sometimes I could break out of it but sometimes, I had to restart the level I was in, losing whatever progress I had made on that level.
After getting through the learning curve at the beginning, I found myself enjoying Victor Vran: Overkill Edition more and more. What I like most about this game is that it doesn’t take itself seriously and is packed with humour. Whether it is skeletons dancing to Gangnam Style or headbanging to Motörhead, You are sure to have a good time amidst the mayhem. The gameplay is as challenging as you want it to be and carving your way through hordes of enemies (with a guitar) has never been so much fun. Diablo III might be ported to Switch later this year but Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is going to be tough to beat in my book.
The Verdict: 9/10
*Review Key Provided by Wired Productions
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