Whenever a game is said to have a lot of “heart,” I think back to horrible memories of completely broken games that weren’t worth their price. The only game that’s ever actually succeeded at having that promised “heart” is Venetica. It’s flawed and has quirks that will turn some people off, but if you can get past those problems, you’ll quickly find a game that you’ll want to play over and over again.
The dialogue is a mixed bag. There’s not really any subtlety to the writing, which means that people will often say obvious things rather than speaking in realistic, more nuanced ways. The main character, Scarlett, is better in this regard, but there’s still quite a bit of dialogue that feels a little off. The voice acting ranges from very good to campy bad, and fortunately never crosses the line into being distractingly bad. The voice actress for Scarlett especially is consistently good, and her voice fits the character like a spandex glove. Do they make spandex gloves? Whatever, you know what I mean.
The presentation of the story in Venetica more resembles Fable and other such light fantasy fare than any of their darker, more brooding cousins. Despite the presentation having more in common with “fluff” fantasy (which is full of throwaway stories), the plot actually manages to be quite interesting. You’re the daughter of death, and the only one who can save the world from a group who have made themselves immortal. That all basically means that you can see dead people, and this mechanic is used in legitimately interesting ways throughout the game. For example, at one point someone puts a knife to your throat and demands money. Being the daughter of death, you can just choose to let him kill you, knowing that you can come back and return the favor.
Personally, I’d have preferred to kill him in real life, then kill him in the afterlife, then damn him to watching the Disney channel for all eternity. I’m kind of vengeful.
If you’re a total graphics whore, you may or may not like this game. It really depends on what you like about the graphics in games, because there are some very pretty things about Venetica, but they’re not your typical pretty things. There are many low-quality textures throughout the game, but the game world is designed so well that even the least interesting places are still a joy to run around in. It doesn’t feel like there are filler areas to pad the length of the game, even though there probably are, because every place you’ll visit is so interesting and designed so beautifully, even despite the low quality of some of the textures.
The character animation in Venetica is a bit wonky. It’s difficult to explain what that means, but it’s obvious that motion capture technology wasn’t used for a lot of the animations. Everything seems very unnatural, from a NPC falling to the ground to certain expressions, but somehow this doesn’t detract from the game at all and actually lends itself to the very campy atmosphere. If this game had completely realistic animations, I can’t help but feel that it would actually detract from the experience.
So there you have it. Venetica is an amazing game, but it’s not for everyone. It has some issues, but past those issues is one of my favorite games. It’s hard to quantify “heart,” but whatever that means, this game has it in spades.
Here’s what you should do: