This review covers the recently released Switch port. Chris reviewed the Overkill Edition itself in more detail here.
Victor Vran has a lot to offer. A main character voiced by Doug Cockle (of Witcher fame) satisfying, simple gameplay with tons of customisation and an entire world based on the music of Motorhead. It has also pipped Diablo 3 to the post as the Switch’s premier bloody dungeon crawl. Originally released on PC in 2015, the game has seen a ton of updates and additions, alongside releases on console. It’s a big experience, with a lot of running, gunning, exploding and stabbing, and though it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s clearly the result of a lot of passionate development. Victor is a hunter, and he’s out to kill as many things as possible with as many implements as he can get his vaguely Johnny Depp – looking hands on.
I completely ignored the original world and jumped at the chance to play the Motorhead levels. It’s the first time since Tim Schafer’s Brutal Legend that we’ve had an experience so directly influenced by metal, and you’ll stampede around dystopian fallen worlds and wild west saloons shooting hellhounds and zombies to classic records in pursuit of a big bad who is definitely not Hitler. It’s nothing particularly new, but it is fun. Whether or not it’ll appeal to people who don’t care for Lemmy’s gravelly tones is another matter, but that’s what the classic levels are for, seeing you rip and tear your way through monstrous hordes in the dark, ambiguously Transylvanian realm of Zagoravia. In a way, Victor Vran is the best Van Helsing game that was never made, and it has in many ways more character and wit than the Diablo series that overshadows the genre. Doug Cockle’s voice acting adds a tremendous amount of weight to Victor – he’s a typical gruff, haunted monster hunter, but he’s exceptionally well portrayed, and that sidesteps a few tremendous potential pitfalls. Rather than attempt to do something different with the theme, it goes full throttle, and focuses on making the gameplay itself as fun as possible.
With the undead armies in full B-movie flow, you can equip Victor with various weapons and outfits to make him the hero of your choice. A balance of swords, guns, and destructive demonic abilities that you can tweak in any particular direction as you play. Victor doesn’t have a set class, it’s all fairly fluid, and it’s to the game’s benefit. I’ve never actually had the opportunity to play the game’s multiplayer mode, but with the amount of customisation that’s possible, I can imagine it’s a good time. The Diablo comparisons are almost unavoidable, but Victor Vran does its own thing, and it’s good to see a few new ideas. One particularly cool aspect is the fact that levels have depth – you can wall-jump around to navigate, and while that sounds like a small thing, it just gives the traversal a bit more oomph than just sprinting and rolling everywhere. Put simply, it’s a great game in an unassuming package, and Haemimont Games should be rightfully proud of what they’ve crafted. Monster hordes, oodles of weapons, and a lead character dripping with vocal charisma.
But Victor Vran has been out for years now. It’s been reviewed and awarded for its accomplishments time and time again over the past few years. What we really need to look at is how well the Switch version holds up compared to the PC and earlier console versions. The final product is a mixed bag. The game looks fine and runs smoothly in handheld mode but serious cracks start to show if you dock the Switch. The frame rate judders and in some parts the game just looks downright ugly with enemies becoming jagged messes and sloppy textures increasingly evident with a blow up in resolution. Looks certainly aren’t everything, but Victor Vran is actually a pretty attractive game (as you can certainly see from the screenshots), and the fact that it looks crummy on the Switch sometimes definitely isn’t the fault of the console. Yeah, it looks decent in handheld mode, but the Switch isn’t a purely handheld device, and though it has limited grunt compared to the bigger consoles, plenty of third party games run perfectly fine on it. As fun as Victor Vran can be, it’s just not easy to recommend the Switch version over literally any other platform you can buy it on. Everything else offers more straightforward multiplayer, better performance, and just a more optimal experience. On PC, this game is an easy 90%. The volatile Switch performance lops a decent chunk off this time, though.
- A really enjoyable action RPG that doesn’t put its best foot forward on Switch.
- Satisfying combat that you can tweak to your playing preferences with great effect.
- Frame rate and visuals struggle in docked mode but the visuals are decent enough in handheld.
- There’s a licensed Motorhead world complete with classic songs, Snaggletooth, and a Lemmy outfit.
- Definitely buy Victor Vran – just maybe not on this particular console.