Preview: Victor Vran: Overkill Edition
In the heart of London, among the pristine glass covered towers of the city, resides a church. The church, with its distinct gothic features and modest beauty, symbolises an idea of London long forgotten – remembered only by the bricks and mortar that keep these buildings standing. Though it was underneath this church, in a sprawling crypt lit only by the glow of fairy lights and televisions, that Haemimont Games celebrated the imminent release of the Victor Vran: Overkill Edition on PC and consoles.
The location of Haemimont’s event reflects the nature of Victor Vran quite well. Like the contemporary landscape of London, Victor Vran is a slick, polished game that you can get lost in quite easily, yet at its heart – much like the quaint church crypt that I played the game in – Victor Vran has not forgotten the traditional aspects of an action RPG.
You take on the role of the demon slayer Victor Vran, a man whose decision to make a pact with a demon years before the game’s setting has endowed him with supernatural abilities. Using these abilities, Victor must return to the ‘cursed’ city of Zagoravia – the setting for a mass wipe-out of demon slayers one year earlier – and uncover the maleficent source that resides within.
The game does a wonderful job in many aspects, with combat far from being a run in and mash the X button to attack. Instead, you’ll have to use space strategically to fend off the hordes – yes, actual hordes – of enemies that want to feast on your sweet, sweet blood. There are two ways to take on your enemies, with an excellent range of melee weaponry at your disposal – including scythes, hammers, and swords (obviously) – each allowing Victor a different combo and special attack.
The other option is to wield dual revolvers or other guns you will find stowed away in treasure chests. You’ll have to use a mixture of close and ranged combat in order to defeat the waves of enemies you face and understanding which situation requires which approach is something you will adapt to quickly. Before you know it you’ll be a demon killing badass worthy of the title.
However, the game also succeeds in challenging players through means other than combat. Platform puzzles are used sparingly throughout the game, with the isometric viewpoint of the game helping players with a far more liberal perspective of the environments and allowing them to revise their approaches to these puzzles which – in my case – minimalised the otherwise annoying nature of platforming.
The event gave those present a chance to play through the main game’s campaign, along with the two all new DLC expansions – Fractured Worlds and the much anticipated Motörhead expansions.
Both expansions offer a very different approach to the game – with Fractured Worlds demonstrating a developing technical prowess of Haemimont, and the Motorhead DLC offering a bold hybrid that seeks to bring a 40-year long history of music to life within the game.
Let’s consider Fractured Worlds first. It’s a story of redemption, the premise of the game seeing Victor begin a new journey to the past in order to break the pact he made with a demon. Speaking to Bisser Dyankov – Lead Designer for Fractured Worlds – he told GGS Gamer that ‘while the other stories have been how Victor helps around, the Fractured Worlds is well related to what we all face in our inner fear and past.’ And much like how redemption in the real world is a difficult concept, it seems that this sense of redemption is equally difficult to obtain within the game.
This irreconcilable redemption is because Haemimont Games offers players seemingly ‘endless content’, with daily creations of new dungeons that allow players to venture in alone or with a friend via online and local multiplayer. Alongside these daily dungeon crawls, players will also gain access to a plethora of challenges through the very mystical ‘Fracture’, in which even the most skilled players will encounter challenges as they descend a never-ending dungeon, with each floor more dangerous than the last. Bisser perhaps put it best explaining that ‘as you go in deeper the challenges increase, the demons become more difficult and there are more of them and it’s basically “how deep down can you go?”‘
“We decided to get our sick minds together and do the game.”
Whilst Motörhead: Through the Ages DLC doesn’t offer the same boundless content of Fractured Worlds, it does offer the opportunity to experience the demon slaying prowess of Victor Vran in a wholly different way.
The musical score features thirteen tracks from across Motörhead’s catalogue, as well as a host of unreleased instrumentals from the iconic band. Players can expect boss fights to be accompanied by some of the more popular hits from Motörhead, acting as a highly energised backdrop for those more intense occasions.
Haemimont worked closely with Phil Campbell, former lead guitarist for Motörhead, when creating the DLC allowing for an interpretation of the band’s history that is derived from the source.
Campbell very kindly spoke to GGS Gamer during the event, and when asked about the Motörhead DLC, he commented that “they [Haemimont] are big fans. At first, they just wanted our music but after some discussion, we decided to get our sick minds together and do the game.”
This certainly comes across in the game, with Haemimont using the opportunity to its fullest as guitars become weapons and bosses and worlds are lovingly bring to life the iconic album art and lyrics of Motörhead – with perhaps my favourite being this rendition of the Orgasmatron album art recreated as a bloody difficult boss.
“If we don’t sell shit we don’t care because we’re proud of the game.”
The process of recreating Motörhead’s history for a game was one that has taken a great deal of time and care. Originally announced in 2015, the Motörhead: Through the Ages was delayed – as was Fractured Worlds. The time the delays gave the team has meant that it’s now an iteration that is the closest to what Haemimont and Phil Campbell had envisioned. Phil told us that the process “took about two years – at least two years. It probably took four years from initial stuff.” However, the time afforded to the team allowed for mass amounts of improvements to both gameplay and Phil was eager to have players get their hands on it, telling us that “this game is something special, it’s pretty brutal and I can’t wait for society to check it out.”
The team behind Victor Vran have quickly adopted the phrase ‘a labour of love’ for the title, and it’s clear to see when you play the game just how much effort went into creating it. Whether you are focusing on the world building and story, the voice casting and music, the detailed and varied environments, or the effort in creating layers of challenge to keep players coming back, it’s clear just how much this game means to Haemimont Games – seemingly more of a love letter to gaming than anything else. Phil – ever the wordsmith – perhaps put it best when he said: “I think I speak for Achim [Lead for the Motörhead DLC] and the rest of the team when I say that if we don’t sell shit we don’t care because we’re proud of the game.”
However, the game will sell; it’s already achieved something of a cult status among its Steam community, and its arrival to consoles will surely attract a good number of players. I, for one, will most certainly be getting this game and pretending that I’ve been playing it from day one… before asking someone how to dodge attacks.
NB: My interview with Phil was cut a little short because he said that I look a bit like Danny Dyer, after this he couldn’t stop laughing. The interview ended with him getting a picture with me and asked that I do ‘that Danny Dyer face’ – I wasn’t too sure what he meant and so I did what I thought he meant. The end result was a picture of me looking like I’m farting next a rock star so… result?