|System: PS3, Xbox 360|
|Dev: Deck13 Interactive|
|Release: January 11, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
You have a single attack button, which, when timed correctly, can unleash powerful combos. You unlock the ability to block as you add points to your skill tree, and overall I didn't have much trouble fighting off the hoards of enemies in the game. But the main combat training in the game presents a confusing split. Everything you learn from teachers in the game tells you how to deal with a single opponent, from blocking to hitting them with a barrage of attacks. But almost every battle in the game will throw at least three different enemies at you, coming from all angles. If you ever get surrounded, you'll almost surely die. Luckily with the power of Twilight you can come back from death, sneak around your attackers and surprise them, but even that power wears out after one or two uses. The most effective combat tactic to survive some of the more difficult battles is to lure enemies into a hallway so they could be defeated in a single file line.
You have a detailed quest log that marks locations on your map to help propel you forward. Unfortunately, this map is one of the most frustrating elements in the game. You have a mini-map, but your markers are often left off it or hidden behind other icons. When you enter the large map, you have no cursor and must scroll through locations using the D-pad in order to set a marker. When you must sort through dozens of screens, this becomes an absolute headache. Compounded by the fact that your raven guide will often fly directly through walls, it's easy to get lost in the game.
While a few haunting tunes set the mood for the experience, most of the audio was marred by technical problems. The voice acting was poor and repetitive. Some recordings even hissed as though they were recorded at too high of a level. And in cutscenes, the audio was shot specific, so you'd jump from the silent ambiance of a character talking in front of a wall to a startlingly loud character talking in front of a stream with a ton of background noise, as though these characters standing two feet apart couldn't hear the same thing.
Venetica was an exercise in frustration for me. I was compelled forward by some of the mid-game events, but overall nothing presented a huge challenge. Almost every breakable pot had coins in it, so I was never poor. Single opponents were almost helpless to my strings of combos. The biggest struggle became trying to read the mini-map. With all of its flaws and its dearth of enjoyable sequences, I can recommend Venetica to the most patient and dedicated of action-RPG fans. The majority of gamers will grow frustrated and even angry with this trial of a title in its early stages.
CCC Freelance Writer