Venetica Reviews

  • Sonic SleuthSonic Sleuth283,285
    17 Jan 2011
    40 6 8
    Action role-playing games have entertained the masses since the age of Atari 2600, when "Adventure" allowed gamers to fight dragons and collect treasures on their way to glory. As 2011 rolls in, Atari revisits those old stomping grounds with Venetica, a third-person action role-playing game that borrows liberally from the storytelling and quest progression of Fable 2 and other modern fantasy games. In many ways, Venetica is an improvement on its RPG cousins, as long as gamers are willing to suffer through some bugs to immerse themselves into the experience.

    Venetica wastes no time jumping right into its story, introducing beautiful damsel-in-distress Scarlet, who quickly discovers that she's both the target of assassins and the warrior who can stop them dead in their tracks. The story is parsed out through seventy-plus quests that open up new areas (including another continent) and give Scarlet more items and abilities that she'll need as the adventure develops. Like Microsoft's exclusive Fable series, abilities and weapons are limited to a few general types... so Scarlet can't just wander into a shop and buy a fancy crossbow and +2 poison-tipped arrows. Unlike those games (especially Fable 3), Scarlet can learn a wide range of mental abilities (spells) and physical abilities, and assign them for quick access during battle. In this way, Venetica feels more like a traditional RPG than the Fable series, despite the obvious similarities.

    What makes Venetica a very good game is a devotion to its core mature-themed gameplay from beginning to end. The gamer can elect to give Scarlet a revenge motive and play through the entire game putting down villagers and showing disdain for their troubles, and in one amazing plot twist, she might even turn on her most loyal helpers... it's up to you. Eventually, she gains the power to enter the spirit world and speak to the dead, causing the story to developed in a new and interesting way. Time and again, Scarlet will return to the world of the dead, fighting boss battles and gaining necessary assistance from fallen allies... giving the game a darkness that draws the gamer in. Also, while the mature themes include the world's oldest profession, Venetica doesn't bog itself down in Fable's silly, ineffectual plot devices. There's no marriage (gay or straight), sex, STDs, or condoms... just a girl who's willing to do whatever it takes to find and kill who want her dead. The mature themes add to the protagonist's journey, instead of creating "real-life" roadblocks to the fantasy action.

    Granted, Venetica fails in some areas that the Fable series succeeds... the graphics are not nearly as impressive as Microsoft's offering, with cartoonish characters and lighting that shifts from blinding glare to pitch darkness. I highly recommend that all gamers tweak the brightness setting to their television, and drop the camera rotation speed significantly. For the latter, the default is 35%, but that speed may be headache-inducing... I dropped it to 20% and found that was just about right. Also, while Venetica lacks online or co-op play, it does have immense replay value with a host of decisions that impact the story significantly, such as choosing which Guild to join. Each guild has unique quests and benefits, and Scarlet can only join one per playthrough. Of course, there are achievements/trophies tied to each Guild, like Holy Seal Completed, as well as finishing the game as a good or evil player (Honorable Success or Villainess Success, respectively).

    Venetica also struggles with bugs, the third straight buggy RPG I've played, after Fallout: New Vegas and Fable 3. This is unfortunate, given that DTP Entertainment originally released the game in Germany a year or so ago... these bugs should be quashed. On the bright side, none of the bugs were game-breakers, but if you can't get past a doorway blocked by a walking Venetian, or someone you need to speak with disappears (or floats in midair), that can be a problem. Unlike the Fable series, gamers can (and should) utilize multiple save slots, so bumping into a bug might not kill your game, but it might back you up an hour or two. By way of comparison, Suicide had his Fable 3 save broken for about six weeks last year, while I could never finish a necessary Fable 2 quest... I had to replay the game. There are other areas where Venetica lacks polish - many locations are just called "house", and that can become confusing, and the "Path of the Raven" breadcrumb ability is largely broken. Know these facts going in, and you won't be disappointed. Remember to save early, save often, and you won't be too heartbroken.

    Speaking of heartbroken, did I mention how gorgeous Scarlet is? This Kate Beckinsale clone slinks around town before bashing heads with a giant hammer... it's no wonder some German gamers have fallen in love with her. Smart, sexy, and determined, she puts the gender-unspecific Fable characters to shame... and never gains weight! There are definitely worse things to watch for 30 hours than this digital diva. Lara who?

    There are great moments in Venetica, with kidnappings, stealth quests, dates with the dead, and wholesale slaughter. The city of Venice is multi-tiered and very well designed, and the experience grows larger as you play longer. The most important factor? Venetica is fun. Choosing and implementing Scarlet's skills, selecting her conversation responses, discovering secret areas and treasures while having conversations with talking skeletons... it's a lot of fun. Action RPG fans will sink thirty hours into this game, then go back for another playthrough to pick up some achievements/trophies and see how the other side lives.

    Number ratings can be deceiving. I gave Venetica an 8.0 because I enjoyed it start to finish, and I can see myself playing it again... but understand that it's not perfect, there are some bugs and some uninspiring visuals, along with no online play. For the $40 budget price tag Atari has attached the game, Fable fans will enjoy the pure RPG elements (without the resource management meta-games), and Playstation 3 gamers who haven't enjoyed the Fable series can get a sense of how the other half lives while gaining some rare trophies. You'll easily get a week or two of fun out of Venetica, and that's worth $40 to me.

    OVERALL SCORE: 8.0/10
    Hours to complete: 12-30 (depending on side quests)
    Purchase Recommendation: Buy it!

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    oXI deviant IXoOn the positive side, your review is very well written. This game looked like it would be the type of game that i really enjoy. And i have enjoyed it so far... for as long as i was able to play it anyway.

    On the negative side, some of your information about the bugs appears to be incorrect. To clarify, let me say that i almost always play any game i'm thinking about playing on an alternate profile to make sure i like it first. i played a good bit of the first chapter on my other profile, and had no problems or glitches whatsoever. So i decided i liked the game, and played it with my main account. On this account, i've had nothing but issues with people not being there, or the game 'freezing' after i talk to people necessary for specific achievements. (to get the trained villager achievement, which is the only cheeve i've got so far, it required 2 complete restarts of the game.) Reloading my save file had no effect... the game kept freezing every time i re-loaded. I'm now at the forest hut, and you must talk to the 2 brothers? cousins? to get inside. They will not appear, no matter what i try. After several attempts to reload from multiple consoles, i must now restart from the beginning YET AGAIN.

    All i can say is that if you've started this game, i wish you luck in finishing it. If you haven't started it yet and you care about completion %, think twice before starting it. Great game so far, but the bugs in the game are in fact game breakers.
    Posted by oXI deviant IXo on 12 Mar 12 at 01:06
    Archer RivalGreat review! I picked this up during a black Friday sale, and it was easily one of the better purchases I made that day. It took roughly 35 hours to knock out all the achievements, but could have been done in shorter time with less exploration.

    As far as bugs, the worse I encountered was a random civilian being in my way. Yes, some characters do move around the city, but if you choose to "show quest on map", a green dot will indicate their current location. I definitely didn't run into anything game breaking. Also, I didn't experience any glitchy achievements. My one complaint is that I don't like games that completely depend on manual game saving. Once or twice, I needed to go back to a checkpoint, only to realize that I hadn't saved in over an hour. When you're trying to immerse yourself in a game, you shouldn't have to constantly be aware to pause and save.
    Posted by Archer Rival on 24 Jul 12 at 16:27
    I had to check your games list after you kept saying "unlike Fable, unlike Fable, unlike Fable" to see if you've played any other RPG's to know what you're talking about. Then I discovered you haven't even completed Venetica and you felt qualified to write a review about it. Not on TA son.
    Posted on 01 Apr 13 at 23:27
  • Zonrith1Zonrith1627,326
    21 Feb 2013 07 Apr 2013
    8 0 0
    Venetica is a European action-RPG set in Italy. The player takes on the role of Scarlett, a young woman who is compelled by tragedy to oppose forces of evil growing in power from the nearby city of Venice. Scarlett has one major trick up her sleeve: she is the daughter of Death himself, and this gives her access to the Twilight World and the ability to interact with the dead.

    It must be noted that Venetica launched as a budget title (its initial retail price was lower than the "standard" 360 game). Like many budget titles, it lacks the polish one sees in larger projects. The question, as always, is if it is too unpolished to be enjoyable. Let's hit the specifics.

    Graphics/Sound (4/10)
    Graphically, this game has issues. On one level it is visually impressive; you have a variety of looks due to a mix of settings (even the different districts within Venice have their own, unique looks). However, the graphical quality is definitely lower than what one tends to expect from a 360 title. Comparing to another budget game, Deadly Premonition, I'd say Venetica's graphics are overall better, but Venetica suffers from a lot of graphical glitches. I'm not just talking about shearing and clipping issues (though those are present), but even entire characters disappearing. My first playthrough I had no idea the gondolas that were sailing around actually were to have people in them, I thought they were just powered by magic! My second playthrough the error fixed. There was another scene where guards were to be swinging a battering ram; all I saw was a magical ram floating in the air. Woosh! I've read some people have had these graphical problems result in them being unable to progress. I did not run into any game-breaking graphics glitch, but obviously the potential is there.

    As for sound, I felt the background music worked well most of the time. Sometimes I'd hear accelerated fight music when not in combat, but I may have agroed an enemy that couldn't reach me, so that might not be an actual flaw. The voice acting, however, is a mixed bag. The accents themselves don't really follow the setting (no major character sounds Italian), and sometimes poor sound recording really shows (namely in various sentences playing at different volumes, or having strange cuts in the audio). The voice actors vary in quality, too. They aren't Two Worlds bad, but you'll probably laugh a few times at some poorly scripted/delivered lines.

    Controls (7/10)
    The controls are simple to understand and overall work well for the title. It's a bit disappointing that there's really just one attack button, as that does make combat more monotonous than in many other action-RPGs. The D-Pad to execute special commands by-and-large works well, though I often felt limited by being able to hotkey so few options (but you can easily pause to access a specific move, so it wasn't a big deal). Controlling the camera was easy and rarely was I forced to stay in a bad-view mode, so that was greatly appreciated. In all, I was pleased with the control layout.

    Story (5/10)
    The story is serviceable, but it could have been so much more. The overall plot is your standard save-the-world-from-impending-doom that you see in almost any RPG. The motivations of the villains are simple, but reasonably explained and acceptably developed.

    No, the biggest issue with the story is on Scarlett's side of the equation. When the game starts, she doesn't realize she is the daughter of Death. When it is revealed, it's almost like she doesn't care and isn't surprised. It also isn't really explored. The same with the Twilight World Death resides in and Scarlett can access at will. Other than some cut scenes to move the plot forward, it essentially functions as a stealth and health-restore device. Nothing is really done in the Twilight, other than key boss fights.

    There was a lot of potential to explain the Twilight, and have Scarlett actually do things in it of substance and depth. Instead, the most unique aspect of the game remains an underdeveloped gimmick of limited applicability.

    Replay Value (5/10)
    The game has two endings, driven by morality actions the player takes during the entire game. It's not just a one-decision thing, so you are pretty much compelled to do two full playthroughs if you want to experience both sides of Scarlett. The differences throughout the story, such as the situational dialogue, are so slight, however, that outside of achievement hunting this isn't much incentive. The game is pretty short (you can likely do a full, all side-quest playthrough in around 20 hours; I punched through a more direct playthrough that only did a few side quests in 7 hours), so choosing to try a different approach in Venetica isn't particularly consuming.

    The game does have three guilds, and Scarlett can only join one per playthrough (and one must join a guild to advance the plot). Taking care of guild #3 does not require a full play, but obviously it does mandate some additional replaying. Each guild does have its unique line-up of quests, though, and those quests are sufficiently different that I found them entertaining.

    "Fun" Factor (7/10)
    Overall, I did enjoy my time in Venetica. I was getting a bit fatigued of it when punching through my "evil" playthrough, but I thought the quest variety was good. The combat, while simplistic, is spaced out enough with other game elements to not come across as overly grind-like. It also helped that a variety of skills and weapons were available to mix things up. The game also opens up fast-travel options as progression occurs, cutting down on backtracking frustrations and letting one focus more on the game. The game does not auto-save, but it did not take me long to adjust to manually saving and I never had an instance where I failed to have a recent save ready, so that did not impact my fun.

    So, in summary, I had a lot of fun despite the flaws, but it could have been so much better.

    I don't rate on achievements, but for those considering this game and wondering about the challenge to full-clear it, here is some information. It is not a hard full-clear, just time-consuming. One can likely finish up all the achievements in 40 hours, if you take on a strategy to minimize playthroughs. You will need to play through the main quest twice, and complete three guild quest chains, so that's about 2.5 playthroughs. There are two "collectible" style achievements, which are easy if you use guides (and you will probably need guides to find them all).

    I'd say the most frustrating achievements are hitting max level and getting 2,000 reputation. Even doing all the side quests I still didn't reach max level by the end of the game and had to go grind points in the arena (so, it's easy to fix if you aren't high enough, but frustrating to have to grind levels like playing an old NES RPG). Reputation is far more sensitive. The maximum available depends on which guild you side with, and some rep options go away after a set time. I actually finished my first, big playthrough at 1,990 rep, and so I had to invest additional time on another playthrough to get the 2,000 points. So, be aware, the rep won't hit 2,000 naturally in all instances, you must plan for it and avoid doing things that will cost you rep.

    I played through the main quest twice (once good and once evil), and used a chapter one save to handle my third guild and meet my rep requirement. My total time investment was on the order of 40-50 hours. All playthroughs were on Easy difficulty.

    Overall score average: 5.6

    Score-to-Star Translation Guide:
    5 stars: 9.01 to 10 (out of 10)
    4.5 stars: 8.01 to 9
    4 stars: 7.01 to 8
    3.5 stars: 6.01 to 7
    3 stars: 5.01 to 6
    2.5 stars: 4.01 to 5
    2 stars: 3.01 to 4
    1.5 stars: 2.01 to 3
    1 star: 1.01 to 2
    0.5 stars: 0 to 1
  • DeliverenceRiseDeliverenceRise35,147
    18 Jan 2011 07 Feb 2011
    5 15 0
    in the review below i mentioned a glit early on in the game where you have to go to the house in the forest.
    all you had to do there was restart the game to fix that glitch.
    later i discovered the talk to nox quest had a glitch as well.
    at this point i decided to stop playing the game and sell it.
    the game had so much promice too.
    if xbox had the game in thier data base there would have been an update for that.
    i still dont know why people compare things to fable.they act as if RPG's did not exist before that game.this is a prety basic RPG based to this person do thier quest.get the experiance to move forward in the main story line.there are key points in the game where you can chose honerable or villainous acts / responces.this will effect the outcome of the came more sevearly than in the fable games.the things about this gameyou should know: too many glitches.some miner,some cause you to start a new game just to fix the glitch.great detail.realy high frame rate (thanx for that).a verry emotional and high adrenaline story.unfortunately the intensety of the story is pause by having to run errands in order to move forward.i realy hated the fact the you have to map skills to each weapon.specificaly you had to learn to block with each weapon then you had to map that skill to a you are left with 4 buttons to map skills can map weapon skills,twilight skills,or health cant get a good balance of all three because there are so few buttons for maping.the only thing i can think of is get a weapon that you wont use too much,depending on your preferance,then map any additional twilight skills to that weapon.aside from the obviously limited skills and or funding of the company,this is a realy impressive game.the moment you select "new game" you are sucked into a story that has every entertainment element you could for child themes.but if that is what you wanted,go get a wii