Venetica, frustratingly entertaining and addictive!
So here we have a game that stands on the precipice! It literally stands on a knife edge between horrid and genius. I bought this game with a mild interest in this title having been longing for an action RPG along the lines of Fable but one that has more RPG elements.
I thought Venetica was that game and begun playing it with gusto. How wrong I turned out to be! Or so I thought at first. Confused yet? You will be!
I hate this game, but I also love it, strange I know but hear me out. to start let me just explain it in its seperate parts etc first:
Graphics: they are fairly abismal in this game. They aren't much better than a game from the previous generation to be frank, the only difference being that theres lots of added sheen and shine and sparkle here and there. Otherwise the character models are pretty ropey, the environments aren't particularly fantastic and some of the levels are again fairly rudementary
Sound: the games score is ok, however the real let down here is the voice acting which is at times ok, and at other times pretty awful stuff. Some of the lines are delivered with such cardboard tone and conviction that its as if they paid random people off the street to read the lines. Sometimes a person will be cut off mid sentence as well.
Story: **SPOILERS HERE IN** this is one of the good points to this game, the story seems to be pretty original to begin with, its set in a unique location ie: a fantasy rendition of Venice, its about the daughter of death, she is a bit of a loner who has a fiance etc and he is then killed, she goes on a revenge quest of course. The setup doesn't sound too original I know but the way its delivered is at least fresh and interesting.
Gameplay: this is where the game will be made or broken for you right here. The gameplay is pretty standard stuff on paper. You press A to attack, X to roll and you can map weapon specific skills to the D Pad and b button. I will come to the controls again in a moment.
The gameplay is similar to Fable 3 in that you run around looting chests and vases, talking to NPC's, trading and getting quests etc. I know that this is not something that is unique to Fable 3 but the games execution, art direction and general feel make it seem very similar to Fable. The quests are abundant and varied and theres always something to keep you running around killing enemies.
Unfortunately where the game really began to fall apart for me was in the combat controls. I do not feel that the game is paced particularly well in the sense that you can ONLY perform basic actions such as block and pary etc ONCE you learn them and map them to a control. That wouldn't be so bad if it were for slightly more advanced commands but we're talking everything here.
You meet trainers throughout the course of the game and they teach you the basics. So the first person you run into teaches you to roll. Then about an hour later you begin to learn things like block etc, then another hour or two later you finally get taught how to time your attacks so you can do more damage. For some reason though they felt such instructions weren't particularly useful or important to start with and your left to fend for yourself knowing ONLY how to roll and hit the A button for the vast majority of the first 4 hours of play.
This is a serious error in game design in my opinion as you can go pretty much wherever you want and run into some pretty tough and frustrating battles. That's not to say it was my fault, OH NO, I wasn't looking for trouble! Pretty much any battle I encountered was horridly hard. The Roll function is abismal, it doesn't work properly at all. You press it while moving the stick in the direction you want to roll but watch in horror as Scarlett either does nothing or rolls directly AT your oponent. Add to that the fact that once you fight more than 2 people at a time they become nigh on invincible!!
Anyway I was beginning to get very frustrated as I felt I was doing all I could to battle my oponents but simply couldn't get anywhere, its like I was banging my head against a brick wall, at one point I entered a tavern and was set upon by about 8 assassins and I only knew how to Roll, which doesn't work properly, and how to block, which, once you press it, doesn't work and will actually tell you in annoying yellow writing "this skill is not available now" which really infuriated me. Obviously if you roll and screw it up or swing and miss with your sword you want to immediately block to cover yourself but oh no! your not allowed!! Nightmare lol. add to this the close quarters nature of the tavern, the fact that ALL the enemies attack at the same time but slightly in different intervals meaning you get no opening to block. Once they hit you your buggered as block doesn't work and you become surrounded so roll doesn't work.
Anyway I digress... I WAS very frustrated with the game to begin with (as I'm sure you noticed lol) because of all the above. However ONCE you finally learn to time your attacks and make more damage and figure out that instead of rolling your better off just running away and then turning around and attacking again. You can put a roll in there if you feel confident or a block but don't be brave, it will probably back fire.
So here is where I explain why I now like this game and would reccomend it, though only to people with a good bit of patience and a serious urge to play a more RPG oriented game.
The skills, once you begin to learn them actually come into their own. And finding the different classes of weapons is pretty cool because once you do you swap between them easily and each one has its own set of skills you can assign, so if you switch to a hammer or a spear your mapped controls change, except B for some reason, but nevermind!! The skills aren't bad, the weapons begin to get more powerful and you start to feel like your making headway. You become more adept at dodging and delivering devastating attacks and you also throw in magic for good measure. Once you reach Venice you should actually be enjoying the game and this is where the game really begins to open up. Your free to roam wherever you choose, some nice touches such as entering the shadow realm to avoid guards become available and you can accept all sorts of tasks and assignments.
Anyway after a lengthy and gruelling innitiation your left with a nice fun enjoyable, simple RPG to play through for a pretty long time and you will find yourself, for no apparent reason, enjoying it completely. I still can't fathom why I enjoy it so much, maybe its my sense of achievement after having mastered its various foibles! Anyway I hope you are able to enjoy the game. Any tips needed, let me know. cheers