Venetica First Impressions

Venetica. It’s a bit of an unusual name, and before reading up on the game I didn’t expect that it would be a Fable-esque RPG starring a girl named Scarlett. I’ve spent a bit of time with this game, enough for me to decide to write up some initial impressions.

In Venetica, you play as a girl named Scarlett who is out to avenge the death of her beloved boyfriend Benedict while also getting wrapped up in a story containing some pretty supernatural elements that I’m still learning about. The story telling, so far, isn’t too bad. The dialogue sequences are pretty straight forward, but individual characters have enough personality to make most interactions fairly interesting.

The controls are pretty solid. Moving around, attacking, and interacting with your surroundings is all a breeze. However, I do find that making Scarlett roll is a little cumbersome. To roll, you have to hold down a key and press a directional key to make Scarlett roll. You literally have to stop what you are doing to make her roll, or at least it seems this way. I’ll need to experiment with rolling some more, but it does feel a little clunky. Aside from that issue, the controls are pretty good.

The graphics are a bag of mixed nuts. Characters look good and are portrayed in a cartoony fashion, sort of like the first Fable. Some people clearly have heads that are too large, or bodies that are too out of proportion, but it’s the artistic style of the game and I’m cool with it. Menus are all pretty slick once you get used to them, and environments don’t look too bad. There are some pretty bland textures at times, but the game has a lot of ambiance. A few European reviewers noted that the environments and landscapes are this game’s strong points and I agree. They don’t look up to par anymore, but they are very artistic and immersive.

The combat works pretty well, though it takes two or three fights until you start to get used to dodging and parrying. It’s mostly up to the player to invent ways to dodge and parry, which is cool. There is Scarlett’s roll and such that is designed to help you in combat, but I found just moving around a lot to be more effective. The combat itself plays out a lot like The Witcher. It seems that attacks combo into each other, and if your timing is off at all then you’ll botch your attack. If you’re fighting a humanoid when this happens, it gives them a great opportunity to block and then perform a counter attack, unless you can jump away fast enough.

So far, it’s a pretty decent game. It isn’t outstanding, but I’d definitely give it a higher score than the Metacritic score of 61, which I feel is far too low for this game. Somewhere between 70 and 85 would be better. Venetica is a fun game that is fairly well made, and more people would enjoy the game rather than dislike it.

Venetica is due out on January 11, 2011 in North America on the PC, Playstation 3, and XBox 360.

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