A collision between Motörhead and video games makes a lot of sense. It feels like games have been cribbing from the band's album art for years. When you read the synopsis of Through the Ages, the new Motörhead-themed expansion for the lovely action RPG Victor Vran, it can be hard to tell where the band ends and the game begins. This: "Take the fight to the Führer and the forces of evil as you unleash the bomber against your foes." And this: "Lay siege to their fortress, unleash the iron fist and stand against the Queen of the Damned."
Let us wind things back a little. Victor Vran hit PCs a few years ago, a gloriously direct ARPG in the style of Diablo, but with a cool twist that saw your main attacks linked to your weapon type. Console versions were promised, as was an expansion based around Motörhead. Now the console versions are here - and according to the Digital Foundry video just below this paragraph, they're wonderful pieces of work - and so are two expansions: Motörhead Through the Ages and Fractured Worlds.
I suspect Fractured Worlds is where I'm going to be spending a lot of my time in the months to come. It offers a range of daily dungeon challenges along with an endless dungeon, all built around the idea that you're collecting bits of some magical doodad called the Astrolabe. I love daily challenges. I love endless dungeons. I quite like the word 'Astrolabe'. I also like the idea of the new craftable Talismans that can "unleash deadly abilities." I played Fractured Worlds for about an hour, and it was lovely. I wandered around a floating Roman-style garden kicking in spiders. Oh, and Fractured Worlds knocks the level cap up a bit.
If I didn't spend as long here as I intended, it's probably Lemmy's fault. Through the Ages feels like expansion with the more immediate draw: a three-part campaign that plays out across a range of Motörhead preoccupations and centers on a hub called the Pub at the End of Time, where the guy who founded Troma is the bartender.
Through the Ages might be the purest fan service I've seen in a game in years. I played through a decent chunk of the first part of the campaign, which sees Victor exploring a world of war, where bombers fly overhead dropping area effect nastiness and shrines are dotted about playing classic Motörhead songs and stirring up frantic enemy-rush set-pieces. Of course there are two new weapon types, and of course alongside revolvers, the other one is guitars, which Vran plays to blast enemies into oblivion with colourful waves of sound. Of course you get to read Lemmy's musings in the lore books you collect, a fact that, by itself, lofts Vran's lore above almost every other example in the genre. And of course, Lemmy himself is seen back at the pub, lurking by the bar.
And when Lemmy leaves the pub, you're told that he won't be coming back. This is perhaps the most brilliant thing about Vran's new expansions. It's not that they're generous and clever and an ideal fit with the basic game. It's that they're handled with such gorgeous delicacy. They're a delight to play, and they're also beautifully judged.