Life isn't easy for Scarlett, the protagonist in the upcoming action role playing game Venetica. Her home town of Venice has been overrun by bandits and giant crabs, and she recently discovered she is the daughter of none other than Death himself. Talk about daddy issues.
In the universe of Venetica, Death is actually a human being elected to role of grim reaper. An ancient council known as the Corpus is responsible for the vote, a sort of electoral college of the occult. Only the latest man to win the election has become crazed with power and transformed himself into an undead beast that no mortal can kill. Oops. Standing between this fiend and the destruction of the known world stands Scarlett.
The only way to stop her new enemy is to learn to harness the powers of Death, of which there are many. She can enter the realm of the dead, converse with friendly ghosts, and do battle against not-so-friendly specters. Killing enemies will reward you with experience points which can be spent to upgrade a number of combat skills. Initially Scarlett is armed with only a scythe, but will eventually gain access to a giant hammer, a sword, and a staff and shield set. You can pay teachers on the streets of Venice to teach you new weapon skills such as new combos or attacks such as poison. Combat is similar to recent Legend of Zelda games in which you lock on to an enemy and circle-strafe around it. The one-button combat is performed in real-time. Quick combo attacks are performed by pressing the button rapidly in succession, while slow powerful attacks can be unleashed with slow button-presses. Scarlett also will have access to several suits of armor, so expect plenty of costume changes for this sultry Venetian.
The highlight of the combat is certainly Scarlett's death powers. As she progresses through the story, she will be automatically rewarded with new powers, such as the ability to summon ravens and ghouls to her side, or instill terror in her enemies. She also has access to a pair of mentors that appear in spirit form and offer help with important tasks. We watched them guide Scarlett through a lock-pick minigame as she search a chest for valuable treasure.
The city of Venice is not the postcard that you may be used to. Venetica takes place in a parallel universe in the 16th century, and the canals and streets are filled with secret passages, and enemies. During the day, citizens will chat with you and offer information in addition to side quests. At night, bandits and more supernatural enemies take over. The day-night cycle lasts only about 15 minutes, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to wander Venice at the time of day that you prefer. Venetica encourages exploration as every door can be opened and every home searched for secrets, says developer Deck 13. There are two sections to Venice. We saw the prosperous area where most of the upper class citizens live, defined by large palaces and bright open spaces. A second more ominous area called the dark streets offers greater challenges. Two separate factions inhabit the city and you can choose to do quests for either faction. Of course, it wouldn't be Venice without gondolas, and the romantic boats serve as Venetica's automated transport system. Sadly there will be no romantic crooning from the gondoliers. O solo mio!
We only had a short time with Venetica, but Deck 13's latest project appears to have the foundation of a solid action RPG. Check back soon for more information on Venetica.