At the beginning of the game you get to choose between four costumes for Vran (though you can unlock more later), and these duds essentially work as interchangeable classes or builds. I went for the guy in the dapper suit and top hat, obviously, whilst my partner picked a more heroic looking build. I was ranged Victor, whilst she played up-close-and-personal Victor. It worked well, with me weakening massive mobs with a generous shotgun blast whilst she went in and finished them all up with a fast sword. You get power cards when levelling up that allows you to tweak your build further, and its through this mechanic that you can really fashion your own Victor. It’s a shame that there aren’t any other playable characters, just flavours of Vran to choose from, but once we got going we didn’t really think about it.
The lack of variety could become a bit tedious if you’re playing with four players, however. Whilst my partner and I played as differently as possible to cover all bases, I think with more players we’d just be getting in each others way. Thankfully the game divvies up loot fairly, meaning that whilst you might be stepping on each others toes when it comes to builds, at least you’re not going to be vying for the same gear.
The most refreshing thing about Victor Vran’s presentation is how it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s full of silly dialogue – including a voice in your head that calls you ‘Vicky’ – and weird characters, and it plays with genre conventions enough to avoid the grimdark setting it otherwise complacently sets up. The game looks just stylized enough for you to forget its not visually stunning and introduces a variety of ghouls and nasties to keep things interesting throughout.
The sound design is on point too, with satisfying BOOMs accompanying every crowd-clearing shotgun blast and audio cues telling you when you’ve levelled up or achieved something important. The voice acting is good to great, depending on how cheesy you like your dialogue, and the music – whilst not particularly memorable – serves its purpose well.
‘Victor Vran‘ is a success because it doesn’t try to be the ARPG that everyone else is trying to make. It’s happy to do its own thing, and that turns out to be its greatest accomplishment. There’s a focus on skill as well as simple number crunching, and it constantly engages with smart systems that make it hard to put down. If you’re looking for an ARPG that isn’t going to disappoint after the genre-ending Diablo III, Victor Vran may really surprise you. It certainly surprised me.
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