When you think of isometric Action Role Playing Games, you most likely going to think of Blizzard’s Diablo series. The gothic looter has always been the one to look to and on first glance, you wouldn’t be blamed to think that Victor Vran is another “Diablo-like” game simple because it has the same camera angle and features random loot drops. To be honest though, the similarities kind of end there. Victor Vran features smaller areas each with their own series of challenges and welcomes replayability.
In Victor Vran, each area features five challenges to complete that each represent a star. Some of these ate as simple as killing the areas boss that is unavoidable to continue the story. However, this system becomes one of Victor Vran’s strong points pretty quickly. Some games of this ilk suffer from repetition and tedium setting in upon but this system brings a whole new challenge to the area. Some will require exploring any nook and cranny, trying to find a series of hidden chests. However, others restrict you like not letting you use any of the shrines to
You can equip any two weapons you want at any time which you can switch between by pressing the R button allow for seamless play and switching of styles. This can add a whole level of strategy to play as you take out some stragglers with a ranged weapon and then follow up with some hammer attacks or you can wield two ranged or two melee weapons to suit not only your style but the situation in front of you.
On top of the basic attack and two skills based on the weapon, Victor can eventually use two demon powers which are also found in the game like the weapons. As you fight hordes of enemies, you build your overdrive meter which then allows Victor to use two Demon Powers. These powers can be bought in shops as well as dropped by certain enemies just like weapons or Destiny Cards. The demon powers can range from a giant cloud of toxic smoke to major shockwaves, lasers, or even give healing or defensive abilities. Their powerful but not possible to use as often.
Destiny Cards act as a deck which you can use to offer a variety of buffs and effects as well as alter stats. Each card, depending on its power will have a number allocated to it. Your point allocation is limited and in the beginning you’ll be only able to equip one but as you level up you will be able to apply more and more powerful cards. This can drastically change the way Victor plays as well as prepare yourself for particular areas but drastically change resistances as well as base stats and abilities. While it may seem like something you chase the highest numbers for and keep there, you can essentially start creating decks of cards to deal with certain challenges like upping defense to protect against certain hexes you’ve applied in order to complete challenges. It’s definitely something you should always take note of, especially for those challenge specific quests.
Victor Vran excels in a handheld mode as the small models look crisp and clean and the colour palette jumps off the handheld’s screen. Unfortunately, it’s a completely different story when docked. Everything looks very jaggy and lacks any meaningful detail making the game look quite dated.
Performance is decent in both but can definitely take a few hits, especially when a large number of enemies and special effects are running on the screen. It never got to the point of unplayable but it was definitely noticeable. Still, it never felt impactful to the game and I never felt hindered by it.
When in handheld it was incredibly easy to lose hours due to the nature of how progression feels consistently satisfying. The structure of how areas work also lend a hand to the handheld mode as each area can be traversed in a few minutes. However, for those that like to explore and obtain all the secrets and uncover all the hidden bosses, areas get rather large later on but never gets so big that getting lost is a possibility.
As I’ve mentioned, each area has a maximum of 5 stars. However, the requirements warrant multiple playthroughs on certain areas. However, repetition is alleviated by hexes. This can increase the challenge by throwing tougher, harder hitting enemies into the area, have Victor consistently lose some of his health as well as change stats based around combat. It truly makes for an enjoyable mix of variability as well as challenge that was only ever enjoyable
Victor Vran takes the core gameplay of some of the best Action Role Playing Games and rather than just add their own art style on top, they’ve progressed the genre more than most games ever have. It’s fun, fast, fluid, and infinitely enjoyable. Combat and mobility feels more satisfying than others in the genre, it offers mutators that mix things up consistently in areas that keeps things feeling fresh, and the portability of the Nintendo Switch means you’ve finally got a high-quality Action Role Playing game that has carved a sub-genre of its own, offering dozens of hours of action that never tire.