Today we are throwing it back to 2009 and looking at Venetica. A 3rd Person Hack-n-slash RPG by Deck13 Interactive, one of the studios also behind Lords of the Fallen. Haven’t heard of it? That’s no surprise. The game received average reviews at best overall and based on the price cuts shortly after release I can’t imagine it sold well; having a female only protagonist also didn’t help which I find to be absurd but that’s the way things go unfortunately. Even the PC version now has no kind of key code or activation, that’s basically the developer going “Yup, it’s a game.” and just throwing it out there.
I, however, feel it’s one of the few hidden gems out there that hasn’t received much coverage. And that’s a shame. This is a great title that can be bought for very little cash nowadays. So first off, basic story is basic as they say. You play Scarlett who is the only one in a small village without any family aside from a half-brother. The village is attacked by assassins that are looking for her. She survives the attack and then it’s up to her to hunt them down for killing her lover. As it turns out the only way to exact revenge is by using a special sword called a Moonblade. Scarlett, of course, is the only one that can locate and use the blade making her the hero by default.
You start off in a small village but soon move to the main area of the game, Venice. By the time you reach the first open area in Venice you will have faced the first boss. All that’s left is to take down the remaining four, while doing a few quests as well. All in all the makings of your standard game. Only seldom does the game kind of fall off the rails where you are left wondering what to do. Thankfully many of the NPC’s are very direct with their help and will point you in the right direction soon enough. It’s a shame the voice acting is only passable at best.
Venetica is not without its problems of course. The most glaring issue is the map. Like many modern games with an open world, or semi-open in this case, your quests are marked on the map so you know where to go. The problem is the markings can be way off occasionally making it difficult to figure out what to do. Additionally some quests just don’t show up at all on the map. The most annoying issue was when the marker was placed squarely in the middle of the ocean far, far away from the house I was supposed to go to.
Another issue is the dynamic skill bar. It’s just too fiddly to work right. The other issue is that icons on the bar just flat-out disappear sometimes. The shortcut still works but the icon is gone. In a battle when you are looking for a certain skill or weapon it can be very frustrating when you can’t find it. Because of this I turn off the “dynamic” part which leaves you with just five choices. The icons still disappear but at least there are fewer shortcuts to remember.
Venetica certainly has its technical issues, interesting voice work and slightly dated graphics but all of it comes together with a certain charm that is undeniable. The combat in Venetica is very satisfying on a basic level and is engaging enough to keep you playing. The story moves along with a decent pace and the side quests are fun enough.
As cheap as this game is now, I encourage anyone that enjoys 3rd person hack-n-slash RPGs to grab a copy. Amazon is the best source for new, but you may be lucky to find a copy at a Gamestop. It’s relatively short and would be a good weekend adventure. Sometimes it’s good to look back in the past. 🙂