Venetica – a short but reasonably sweet RPG

The amount of games in my ‘to play’ pile is ridiculous, so you’d think that a RPG would be the last thing I’d touch in order to whittle that pile down. I was however told that Venetica is a short game. Turns out that’s not strictly true – at around 20 hours it’s only a short game by RPG standards.

On first impression I really did think that I was going to whiz through it in around six hours. This fantasy RPG – which stars a young lady called Scarlett with supernatural powers – is spilt into three chapters, with the first only taking a couple of hours to finish. The opening area is pretty linear – just a small town, copper mine and derelict mansion that contains a puzzle to solve. Eventually though the story sees Scarlett travelling to Venice, and yes there is the chance to ride a gondola.

When in Venice the game world suddenly triples in size. Lots of people need your help and there are catacombs to explore under the city, as well as different guilds to join. You can only join one guild per play-through, which adds incentive for a second play. This does though mean that you can’t unlock all the achievements first time round.

It moves at a fair old pace – Scarlett runs around with a sense of urgency and as the combat is of the button bashing variety, enemies fall to the ground in a matter of seconds. The combat reminded me of Phantasy Star Online – if you press the attack button with good timing you can chain three or four attacks together, each dealing more damage than the last. There are hammers, spears, swords and a few other pointy things as well. Hammers have to be used to knock down structures and weak doors, so you do have to change weapons now and then rather than being able to just stick to your favourite.

There are magic attacks too. I was quite amused by the fact that you’re able to torment giant bats and lobster-like creatures by filling their heads with images of deceased relatives. Scarlett is also able to enter a twilight realm and thankfully you’ll find no pretty-boy vampires here – just an empty void in which Scarlett can sneak past enemies.

Attacking enemies with the Moonblade builds up the twilight gauges. These act as lives – every time your energy is depleted you’ll find yourself in the twilight world until your health regenerates. This feature makes Venetica much easier than most RPGs, although the lack of an auto-save feature did make me curse a few times.

Coming from a small developer Venetica is rough in most places. The character models look like they’ve been chiselled out of stone while the environments have that awful ‘waxy’ texture applied to them. There are a few glitches and some other odd occurrences as well. The brothel raised a smile – approach it and the sounds of laughter and merriment can be heard. Go inside though and the place is deadly silent with just two or three NPCs aimlessly walking around. A typo was also spotted – there’s an achievement called “Second Chapter Comlete”.

Available for around £5, Venetica is a pretty good choice for RPGs fans on a budget, and is far more enjoyable than Two Worlds 2 and other obscure Euro-RPGs. You might even find it more entertaining than the recent Risen 2: Dark Waters. At least Scarlet can swim, unlike the pirate hero of that game.

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