Victor Vran: Overkill Edition Review

I first previewed -- and later, reviewed -- Victor Vran when it was released on PC back in July, 2015, and was impressed with its Victorian Steampunk-esque take on the action RPG formula. I was happy to have the chance to revisit Victor and his world on the PS4 in a version of the game that packages together the base game and subsequent DLC.

Although it plays a few variations on the action RPG theme, Victor Vran is easily recognizable for what it is: a very capable Diablo clone, albeit with an entirely different setting, aesthetic and set of weapons, spells, and armor. There is only one playable character, the titular Victor, but he can instantly swap between two different weapons that cover a very wide range of types, from rapiers, swords, and hammers to Victorian-era pistols and shotguns. Each weapon has a variety of attacks, of course, and add to this a vast array of spells, magical enhancements, and Destiny cards (essentially buffs and special abilities), so it's easy to craft a unique version of Victor. He's also bit more mobile than we expect from ARPGs, able to double jump over obstacles or to reach hidden paths. 

For the most part -- the exception being the Motorhead DLC -- Victor Vran nails the explore-fight-loot rhythm that characterizes the best ARPGs. Victor is a demon hunter, coaxed out of retirement to help rid the fictional city of Zagoravia of its supernatural denizens. There's a plot, of sorts, and a love interest and an omnipresent wisecracking narrator but all that is easily secondary to fighting through the streets and dungeons of the town and surrounding areas. Whereas Diablo generally trickles out enemies in an escalating progression towards a boss, Victor Vran delights in overwhelming the player with vast numbers of creatures. Of course, this allows Victor to use one of his many lethal and visually impressive AOE abilities and dispatch dozens of enemies with, for example, a brutal hammer blow.

Back in 2015, I thought the enemy design was a bit disappointing, including a few too many "iconic" (i.e. unimaginative) skeletons, mages, giant spiders and sentient floating rocks, none of which are exactly strategically sophisticated with their attacks beyond having a preference for ranged or melee approaches. The European-looking city of Zagoravia and multi-level dungeons are colorful but starting to look a bit dated. While, on the whole, Victor Vran seems familiar (in both good ways and not), the Motorhead Through the Ages DLC is both a head-scratcher and a breath of fresh air.

Deeply informed by the music, personality, visual icons and lore of the metal band Motorhead and leader Lemmy Kilmister, the Motorhead DLC brings Victor into the near-present day where he fights Nazi stand-ins in an ersatz World War 2 setting. Using weaponized electric guitars with powerful solo licks instead of the usual moves, the DLC feels a little like an ARPG version of Brutal Legend, with the juxtaposition of metal music and zombie soldiers adding a Doom-like vibeConceptually, it's a potentially awesome twist but the experience is lessened by inconsistent voice acting, unimaginative level design and graphics that are less engaging than that of the base game. The Motorhead-fueled soundtrack and pacing that features a near-constant series of multiple enemies becomes fatiguing. 

If you add in the Motorhead or Fractured Worlds expansions, and the ability to play all of the content alone or co-op and in any sequence, Victor Vran: Overkill Edition is an extremely generous package that will take dozens of entertaining hours to complete. With each mission having multiple objectives, there are plenty of reasons to revisit areas several times. Not everything about Victor Vran is new and different, of course, but its solid mechanics and strong personality go a long way towards creating a satisfying play experience.