Saturday, May 21, 2016

Victor Vran

Victor Vran is an action RPG made by Haemimont Games. I think it would be safe to assume that Bastion was a big source of inspiration for the developers as the game shares a lot of features with it. The game mechanics are largely similar but do make an attempt to have bit more depth and variation.

Likewise there is also a narrator to keep you company. He is snarkier than Bastion's and makes awfully many pop culture references, which I did not really like. It kind of breaks one's immersion and in my opinion does not really fit the setting. Maybe they were trying to differentiate from The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, which is another recent game (or a series, rather) of the same genre and setting.

Victor of Rivia

Unlike Bastion's protagonist, has Victor voice-acting. He does not engage the narrator in dialogue, though. His lines are saved for interacting with the hub town's NPCs, and sometimes he does inner monologue. I would have actually preferred to listen to Victor instead of the narrator.

Mr. Vran is voiced by Doug Cockle who is also the man behind the raspy voice of Geralt of Rivia. In fact, Victor sounds exactly the same as the white-haired witcher. I wonder if it was intentional or is it the only voice Cockle can do. But aping someone else's is certainly not the way to make your own iconic character.

I would imagine Cockle has trouble getting the role of a game protagonist with his easily recognizable (though amazing) voice. Elias Toufexis at least has had issues because of his role as Adam Jensen, even though he definitely can do different voices. He was actually ditched from his role as Jason Brody in Far Cry 3 because they did not want the character sound like Jensen, even though Toufexis had been working on the role for two years already. They did hire him again to voice the protagonist of Far Cry Primal later on, though. But back to the game at hand...

Plays best with a gamepad

Victor Vran offers 3 control schemes: mouse move, WASD, and gamepad. I tried them all and ended up using my Xbox 360 controller because it felt the best and I have a feeling the game was designed foremost to be played with a gamepad. One of the issues with the two former is that the camera can be rotated horizontally around Victor and it is bothersome due to having to hold a (right mouse) button to do it. Screen-edge rotation with mouse would have helped a bunch, and maybe the WASD scheme could have used auto-turning camera that tries to keep behind Victor.

Dodging and jumping to right directions is also problematic with kb/m. You pretty much need the two analog sticks for camera and movement. I suppose with some rebinding I could have played the game with keyboard and mouse but the gamepad worked right off the bat. I did find the mouse more efficient for operating the grid inventory, however.

Optionally(?) challenging

The maps in Victor Vran are static (like in Bastion, again). That limits re-playability, although I wonder if the game had any to begin with. You can pretty much try out all the different weapons and their attacks, demon powers, and destiny card setups on your first playthrough. The game tried to offer me some elite challenges after I had beaten it, though.

And challenges is what the game seems to like. Every map has a set of them, offering you additional rewards upon completion. There are also hexes you can activate for more experience and gold gain, and many of the challenges also require one or more to be active. Completing a map's every challenge on the same attempt can be difficult at once if it is required to have many of the hexes active for different challenges.

The challenges can get truly frustrating and I started skipping them more and more as I got further into the game. It was quite annoying as I did not know if I needed the additional rewards to able to progress. I did get stuck on the Apocalypse fight but I guess that was mostly because I had skipped a few dungeons completely and also needed to update my destiny cards.

Overall Victor Vran is a solid product. With the exception of couple random times I had FPS drop to 30, it ran very smoothly at max settings (of which there are plenty in the great options menu). It is too bad there is nothing to really remember the game for. No great soundtrack like Bastion had.

Also what is up with the odd item rarity colors? They are like a mix of World of Warcraft and Diablo. White is common as expected and uncommon is green like in WoW. But then rare is yellow like in Diablo. And then purple is taken from WoW again for legendary (not epic). Why not just pick one scheme and stick with it.

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