A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Victor Vran is a downloadable dungeon-crawling role-playing game with constant fighting. Players use swords, hammers, scythes, shotguns, magic, and more to attack and kill thousands of fantastical enemies, some of which gush colorful blood. The action is almost constant with little in the way of any sort of puzzle solving. The protagonist, Victor Vran, is at heart a good man who hunts monsters, helps his friends, and offers his services to people in need, but his only method of solving problems -- which typically take the form of antagonistic monsters -- is to kill them in brutal, spectacular fashion. Online play supports text-chatting between strangers, so kids may be exposed to strong language, bullying, and iffy topics. The dialog includes the word "s--t," while some songs include the word "f--k." The "Motorhead" add-on may alsoprompt some kids to buy Motorhead's music.
What's it about?
VICTOR VRAN's titular hero is a famed monster hunter who arrives in the demon-besieged city of Zagoravia in search of a colleague. His plan is to locate his friend and get out, but when Victor discovers his friend has been transformed into a monster, he opts to remain in the city and help its queen -- who has some secrets of her own -- rid the city of its infestation. Levels are presented from an isometric perspective, providing an almost top-down view of battlefields, which sometimes swarm with dozens of enemies including spiders, skeletons, wraiths, and other fantastical creatures. Each stage has multiple challenges, such as killing certain kinds of monsters with a specific kind of weapon or finding all secret treasures, in addition to a primary objective, such as reaching a gate or finding a non-player character. Between levels players can return to the palace hub, where they have the ability to trade and buy items and weapons, combine and transmute materials, and chat with a handful of characters to progress the story. An online mode turns the campaign into a four-player cooperative experience.
Is it any good?
Victor Vran doesn't rewrite the book on dungeon-crawling RPGs but instead delivers a mostly traditional, nicely designed adventure with loads of content and some common-sense features surprisingly absent from many other games in the genre. The additional challenges on each level give players motive to experiment with new weapons and powers while adding some replay value. Plus, the ability to not only jump but also wall-jump opens up maps in new ways that make exploration -- and stumbling upon treasures -- more exciting than usual. Combat, meanwhile, supports both keyboard-and-mouse and gamepad interfaces, and it's intuitive and empowering. Original game elements (optional hexes that alter play parameters, tarot-like playing cards that modify Victor's attributes, and the ability to combine and transmute older items into more powerful ones) are introduced at regular intervals and help keep things fresh. Plus, the world -- which you can view from any angle, thanks to a rotating camera -- and its characters look terrific. Zagoravia has an appealing gothic vibe, and the monsters, though tiny, animate beautifully in both their attacks and when staggering from Victor's blows.
As for the "Overkill Edition," this not only brings this game to consoles, but it also adds two expansions: a challenge called "Fractured Worlds" and a story expansion titled "Motorhead Through the Ages." Which, yes, takes inspiration from the titular metal band's lyrics and album covers, giving you such weapons as the Guitar of Vampirism. While the former is fun for a bit, it's the latter that actually adds something interesting by giving the regular game action a more lighthearted tone, which makes for a nice counterbalance to the darker setting of the adventure. That said, the storytelling is a bit weak. The slowly evolving tale of monster infestation, which comes in spurts of exposition after certain levels, seems almost like an afterthought. And actor Doug Cockle, best known as the voice of Geralt in the Witcher games, is given surprisingly little to work with in the role of Victor. Plus, it's a long game -- maybe too long. A sense of repetition will eventually set in for all but the most hard-core action RPG fans. But until it does, mature dungeon-crawler lovers are likely to have a pretty good time inhabiting Victor Vran.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Is there room for games that focus solely on combat as entertainment in a healthy media diet?
Discuss ways in which Victor Vran could have introduced nonviolent play elements. Which sorts of non-combat game activities might prove complementary to a game like this?
- Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Haemimont Games
- Release date: July 24, 2015
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Partial Nudity, Strong Lyrics, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.