Venetica is a new action RPG published by Atari here in the US, even though it’s been out in Europe (courtesy of DTP Entertainment) for a few months (the UK) to a little over a year (Germany). It hit stores yesterday (01/11/11) and I’ve put several hours in to the game. It’s too soon for the review as it’s a pretty big game, but I thought I’d whip up a “Ten Thoughts” column to let you know if this budget RPG is worth picking up, or if it’s something you should leave on the shelves.
1. I’m confused as to why Atari has a big “Rombax Games” on the cover and the book, as well as listing Rombax as the developers on their website. Really Rombax is a co-publisher of some sort that no one seems to have heard of before this. If you’ve followed the game at all, you know Deck13 Interactive developed Venetica Deck 13 isn’t very well known stateside, but they’ve given us point and click adventure games like Jack Keane and the Ankh series. They also have done Black Sails which is pretty impressive, but will probably never be released in the States. So don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this company before.
2. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this game. It’s like a budget Morrowind. The world is huge, there are lots of quests to do and you can customize your characters stats and skills. That means if you like action RPGs, you’ll probably be able to get a good deal of replay out of this to try different character builds. Right now I’m primarily playing a melee character with high Constitution and Strength.
3. Your main character is a girl named Scarlet whose hometown was attacked by a mysterious sect of assassins who wanted to kill her for some reason. That reason turns out that she’s the daughter of death and an evil necromancer needs to take her out as part of his cryptic and grandiose plan to dare I say it…rule reality? It’s a bit cliché, but the way the story is handled is quite nice. You have some interesting (and flamboyant) characters and the dialogue choices are decent, especially for a budget game.
4. I know that the European version of this game released a few months ago has some pretty bad bugs in the 360 version, but I’m happy to report that the PS3 version has been bug free so far. There can be a bit of a frame rate issue in regards to lighting and shadows when you first enter a new area, but that’s the closest thing I’m encountered to a glitch.
5. The voice acting is a lot of fun. I could quibble that everyone has a British accent when your home town has a decidedly Spanish name and the majority of the game takes place in Venice, but hey – it’s a game. I generally enjoyed the voice acting. The minor NPCs can be a bit wooden, although being an ex resident of the UK, I can say from experience that the particular accents you’ll find that associated with are wooden sounding even if you’re not trying to be a voice actor, so I’d give it a pass there.
6. So far I’ve killed a bunch of assassins, re -forged the Moonblade which is a sickle with the power to kill the undead and saved a mine (and thus my home town) from economic collapse. I’ve also discovered that anyone my character befriends or gets close to seems to die horribly…which I guess is to be expected when your father is the anthropomorphic personification of Death.
7. There’s a morality aspect known as “reputation” in the game but the game doesn’t tell you if you have good or bad. However you can generally figure it out by your dialogue choices within the game and who comes up to you. So far my character has flittered between good or bad. I’ve basically been helpful and polite, but if someone does something evil and I have a choice between PUNISH and mercy, well I choose punish every time.
8. If you liked Demon’s Souls, you’ll probably like the “twilight” aspect of the game. No, you don’t turn into a sparklepire. Instead, it refers to the bridge between life and death. Twilight gives you skills such as control over ravens, the ability to see portals between the world of the living and the realm of the dead, inflict the plague and other necromantic type spells on enemies, and even summon the dead (or Death itself!) to attack your enemies. As well, once you die, if your Twilight meter is full enough you can not only come back from the dead instead of having to reload your game, but you can reposition your character for a sneak attack. It’s a pretty cool aspect and although I’ve only dipped my feet into the game, I’m intrigued by this aspect and can’t wait to learn more.
9. My favorite aspect of the game so far revolves around the fact you have to be trained in skills and different trainers give you access to different abilities. This is very old school First Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons for me, and I’m loving it. Less diehard RPG fans might not enjoy this as much, but it does give the game a bit of realism to it. Well, realism as far as a game where you play as the daughter of Death fighting the forces of necromancy can go…
10. So far I’m actually pretty impressed with Venetica. It’s a neat little action RPG that has the better aspects of Morrowind, Demon’s Souls and Untold Legends. I’m really digging it, and it’s pretty fun – especially for a budget European game. Of course, I’m only a few hours in and you’ll want to wait for my full review in a few days to see if my first impression holds true. Venetica is available for the PS3, 360 and PC, but from what I’ve seen and heard, you’d do well to go with the PC or PS3 version of the game and steer clear from the 360 version – just in case the North American version is as buggy as the UK one is supposed to be. You can also learn more about the game here if you want more info and can’t wait for my review.