Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux
I can’t be the only one who pretty much expects all ARPGs to be reskins of the same basic game: click, loot, potion, repeat. Sure, each takes a little different tack with skill trees and combination classes, but as long as all systems are functional, they all offer a pretty similar experience.
Victor Vran is pretty different from most other ARPGs I’ve played. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I’m an authority by any means. I’ve spent quite a few hours in Diablo 3, played Torchlight and its sequel, and bumbled around a bit in Din’s Curse, Titan Quest Gold, and The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing. They’re all pretty solid games, provided you like the ARPG formula. But almost from the beginning, this feels very very different.
There are no classes in Victor Vran, and there are no skill trees. You only have a few active abilities at any given time, and those abilities are determined by the weapon you have equipped. An early level-up reward is a second weapon slot, allowing you to quickly switch between two equipped weapons in battle. Finally, not only can you jump and dodge, but you better learn how to do both pretty early on, or you’re not going to make it through the game.
I am hesitant to call this the Dark Souls of APRGs, but it’s hard not to draw comparisons. The skill in Victor Vran is not only limited to creating a strong build, and equipping the appropriate loot. You have to be able to move yourself out of crap and avoid projectiles while still wailing on hordes of monsters with a cool down based ability system, and there are times that’s just as confusing as it sounds. As a concession to a more complex play style, you can choose your movement scheme at the start of the game (both click to move and WASD are on offer).
There are three difficulty modes, and the two lower ones, casual and normal, can be switched between in an active game. However, if you choose heroic, you’re stuck with it. You also have to choose your outfit, which is the only real character customization you get. At the beginning, there are three options that all give a slight edge to a certain style of play, with other outfits that can either be looted or unlocked through play. Finally, you have to choose between a normal and perma-death / hardcore run.
The narration is wonderful, and I don’t miss the war cries that usually accompany a game of this type. If you’re arachnid-phobic, you should probably give this one a pass. There are many spiders. Many many spiders. Early on, you’ll probably be changing out weapons and destiny cards pretty often to figure out what works best for you. There a crafting component as well, but 90 minutes in, I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. Finally, this is a fantastic game for those who want to quest, explore, treasure hunt, take on challenges and chase achievements in between all the not-so-mindless slaughter. I’m not sure how deep it is yet, but it sure is broad.
Victor Vran supports co-op play, and offers a free DLC for experienced players that give random daily challenges, y’know, in case you didn’t have enough to do. A twenty dollar asking price is in line with how much content you can reasonably expect (and if you’re a completionist, it’s a bargain). However, for the next couple of days, it’s on sale for only $5.99 on GoG.com, which will get you the same free DLC you get on Steam plus some in-game items that appear to be unique to this DRM free version.
The only things that keep me from making an unequivocal recommendation of Victor Vran is that I’m not sure if pure caster builds can actually work (which are a big draw for a subset of ARPG players), and so far, I don’t feel like the story is anything more than a serviceable framework. For me, both of these are non-issues, but are worth noting because for some, they may just be deal-breakers.