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PREVIEW / Victor Vran (PC)

 

Does a game have to be completely original to be good?  With all of the complaints about sequels and remakes we hear, it definitely sounds like people believe that.  I myself tend to stay away from games that don’t try new things.  But indie games are also often praised for taking on a genre or style traditionally associated with big budget franchises.  So I’m not sure how people will feel about Victor Vran, a new game by Haemimont Games on Steam Early Access.  While it does immediately remind me of bigger and older games, there’s something about it that keeps me playing regardless.

 

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Victor Vran is labeled as an action RPG.  It has an isometric view, and a focus on customizing your hero’s equipment as you beat up waves of enemies.  There are no classes; you play as Victor (one assumes), and you can use any equipment as long as you are at the right level.  You start off with a sword, but the Early Access version also includes shotguns, hammers, scythes, lightning guns, and rapiers.

The game is split into dungeons with a few separated areas and a central hub, and each dungeon has a number of challenges in addition to the main goal.  These generally involve killing a certain number of a certain type of enemy in an area, or defeating bosses.  Each weapon is best against a different type of enemy, and after you unlock the ability by leveling up, you can quickly switch between two of them without opening your inventory.  Each weapon type also has its own set of abilities, which are available in addition to the weapon independent Demon Powers you can unlock.  There is an online co-op mode to go with all of this action, though I haven’t had much luck in finding people with whom to play.

 

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There’s no getting away from the fact that Victor Vran looks a fair amount like Diablo.  The graphical style, view angle, and equipment management are all reminiscent of Activision Blizzard’s take on dungeon crawling.  And with all of the indie games that try to mimic that style, it might seem that Victor Vran is in the same sort of predicament as Over 9000 Zombies.  However, the game is a lot of fun, its genre hasn’t been run into the ground yet, and it differs enough from others to be worth a look.  It’s a smaller game, so it works better for quick play sessions than other such games.

Character advancement and customization have some unique characteristics as well.  Each level gives you something different.  Sometimes you’ll get an extra slot for potions, weapons, Demon Powers, and Destiny Cards (more on those shortly); and the choice of a new item to go in it.  Potions can be buffs and healing, or dangerous elixirs to hurt your opponents.  Demon Powers are similar, though you can use each one as many times as you want.  Destiny Cards up your stats, and can be stacked or varied to create the kind of character you want to play.  Each card uses one slot and any number of Destiny Points, and you can unlock more of each by leveling up.  What all of this comes down to is that you’ll find yourself playing a lot longer than you intended, trying to level up just one more time.

 

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Right now it’s hard to say whether Victor Vran will be able to rise above the many other indie attempts to break into this genre, but so far things are looking good.  The story is intentionally unknown, as the developer doesn’t want to spoil anything before the official release, but I doubt that will make or break it either way.  $19.99 is steep for Early Access, no question, but it’s worth it for those who want a more bite-sized action RPG.  I am hoping that a greater variety of equipment will become available, as the game only includes two outfits (and no individual outfit parts) at the moment and a very basic selection of Destiny Cards, but I also hope that they don’t make it too much more complex.

As it stands, it looks to be a great entry point to the genre, and it sets itself apart enough to avoid lingering in obscurity.  If you want to give it a go for yourself, you can find Victor Vran on Steam Early Access right now.  For those looking to dip a toe into action RPGs, I recommend it highly.

 

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