Well, you can't fault the ambition. Deck 13 desperately wants to create a lavish, fantasy world based around Renaissance Venice: lush countrysides, epic vistas and ornate architecture. Unfortunately, the engine it's working with would be better suited to rendering the bare concrete of Coventry city centre. There are brief flashes of aesthetic beauty to be found in Venetica, but the tech simply isn't up to the challenge, with the framerate puffing and wheezing at the merest whiff of a busy scene.
If a bit of visual chugging was Venetica's only problem, then it might not be a total catastrophe. Unfortunately there's a lot more wrong with this light RPG than that. It deserves credit for the setting and the plot, which are unique and imaginative. You play as Death's daughter who, having been apparently orphaned and suffering the death of her simpering boyfriend, finds that she has the power to take the fight to a bunch of undead goons who are stinking up Venice.
Sadly, the dialogue is both poorly written and atrociously acted, to a degree that suggests there's a sixth form college somewhere raking in the dough by pimping out its drama students to voice low-budget games. Inexplicably, everyone in Venice is either a comedy cockney or a salt-of-the-earth Yorkshireman. Unless they decide to randomly change voice actor mid-conversation, that is.
The quests are just about enough to keep you trucking along. It's hugely linear early on, but opens out once you actually arrive in Venice allowing you to select a guild to join and pick up side-quests. Most missions are simple fetch quests that involve you thumping nasties on the way.
Combat itself is functional without ever being inspiring. The simplistic system is quickly mastered, and success depends almost entirely on rolling out of the way at the correct time to avoid catching a sword with your face. While there are combat-oriented spells, there's no sense that they offer an advantage over just hacking away like you're clearing a path through the jungle.
Venetica is a neat idea for an RPG hamstrung by an engine that can't do the maths quick enough and some terrible production values. There are memorable moments, such as a surprisingly creepy face-off against a stone lion, but for the most part it's merely mediocre. There's sedate fun to be had, but only if you've picked this up at a bargain-bin price.
Like Venice, smells faintly of sewage
- Occasionally pretty
- Unique setting
- Simplistic combat
- Chuggy engine
- Awful voice acting