Venetica Impressions

We check out 16th-century Venice through the eyes of Death's daughter in this upcoming RPG for the PC and Xbox 360.

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Announced in May last year, Venetica is an action role-playing game from DTP Entertainment that lends itself to a particularly interesting backstory. Set in the 16th century, it follows Scarlett, the daughter of Death, as she embarks on a quest to save her father from a necromancer bent on total destruction. We found out what makes her tick during this hands-off demo at E3 2009.

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Who's Making This Game:

Venetica is being developed by Germany-based Deck 13 and is being published by DTP. It will be available on the PC and Xbox 360.

What the Game Looks Like:

The game has been described as a "cinematic RPG" by its developers, a description that it certainly lives up to with its highly polished environments full of colour. Venetica is set in Venice for the most part, but Scarlett also travels to other parts of the world. In our demo, we were shown Africa, where huge skeletons jutted out of the bright sand, a big yellow sun cast a pale glow over everything, and the rock formations looked positively hostile. The game also incorporates cinematic cutscenes to introduce new enemies and characters.

Venetica's Venice has improved greatly on the real 16th-century city with more dreamlike structures, canals, and dockyards. The game has a day-night cycle that transforms the city from a bright, colourful, and bustling metropolis to a dark and dangerous underworld of bandits and demons. There is a unique aspect to every location visited by Scarlett, and she'll have plenty of opportunities to wander around and explore as the game's world opens up.

What There Is to Do:

Scarlett will be equipped with a main quest that will take around 20 hours of gameplay to complete. There are also 50 to 60 hours of side quests, which the total being upward of 100. The main quest consists of four chapters, each with its own individual boss fight. Scarlett will be able to pretty much go anywhere she pleases, leaving no stone unturned or door unopened as she searches for power upgrades and experience points. She will also be able to interact with her environments and climb houses, swim canals, and crawl through the dungeons underneath the city.

Like in most RPGs, Scarlett will be able to choose how she interacts with other characters in the game. Acting morally or immorally will produce different endings, as well as shape her experience throughout the game's story. Players can also choose to use offensive or defensive tactics, collecting different powers and weapons depending on the path that they've chosen. In our demo we got a glimpse of Scarlett's greatest defensive power, the twilight skill. This slows down gameplay and lets her retreat or reposition herself without being seen by her enemies. A skill meter appears at the bottom of the screen whenever Scarlett uses this skill to indicate how long before it runs out. All of Scarlett's powers are in some way related to death, and consequently the twilight skill will also give her the power to resurrect herself and others as the game progresses.

How the Game Is Played:

This is a single-player RPG with a very basic control scheme that varies from the PC to the Xbox 360. Our demo was on the PC, but we are told that the Xbox 360 version of the game looks almost identical save for the control scheme and menu layouts.

During the game, players can bring up the main menu, which includes tabs to all of the relevant inventories. There is a quest book that lists the main quests and possible side quests, a diary for game hints, weapons and armor inventory, and a consumables inventory (treasure, health items, and so on). While you're playing, a map will appear in the top right-hand corner, and the health and magic bars will appear on the top left. Scarlett can call ravens to show her the way to her next quest if she gets lost, something she can do by simply assigning this skill to a shortcut menu on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. This menu can encompass anything in her inventory, including weapons, skills, and consumables. Players can assign their chosen items and simply press the corresponding numbers when they want to bring up something during gameplay.

Scarlett's inventory also shows her acquired skills, including attribute points; skill points, such as physical skills for combat and weapon expertise; and mental skills, such as sucking the life out of enemies and performing tricks that include aging her enemies so that they become slower in combat. Scarlett can acquire more than 45 skills in total throughout the game.

What They Say:

Venetica is a visually stunning RPG with a cryptic storyline that mixes emotions and action in a unique, living, free-roaming 16th-century world.

What We Say:

We were strongly impressed by the game's detailed environments and combat sequences but a bit confused by the story.

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Stay tuned to GameSpot for more on Venetica. It's scheduled for release later this year on the PC and Xbox 360.

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