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Venba | game review

Probably best played on a full stomach.

A mother and son reconciliation in Venba
 

Game summary: Cook various dishes and restore lost recipes, hold branching conversations and explore in this story about family, love, loss and more. (Xbox.com)


Not being an immigrant and having to deal with a local culture conflicting with that of my family, I can't really appraise how accurate an experience the more personal events of the story are for those who have had to go through similar experiences. What I can say is that I enjoyed Venba a lot, I loved the characters and their story, and it also made me immediately want to order Indian food after finishing playing.


To be fair, what I wanted to order didn't match the Tamil cuisine that you prepare in the game, but the fact that it still made me hungry despite the cartoonish graphics is a testament not just to how well the art style worked, but also the sound design. When you hear some of the ingredients sizzling in the pan or releasing steam from a pot, it just adds that extra layer of authenticity that makes your brain immediately crave food.


There is a minor puzzle aspect to the cooking parts of Venba, with you having to figure out what to do at certain points, either because the cookbook you're using is missing some of the instructions or because you can't translate what is written there. Regardless, none of these 'puzzles' are particularly difficult, allowing you to get on with the story while trying to ignore how hungry the game is making you.


And while the cooking is the central gameplay element, it's a distant second in importance compared to the story as you follow a family over the years, struggling to adapt to Canada after moving from India. While there are moments of happiness, I found it to be quite bittersweet overall - emphasis on the sweet by the end - and I did come close to tearing up thanks to how well the story is told and my total lack of any relevant experiences myself.


I would thoroughly recommend giving Venba a go, as it's not that long, taking about the same amount of time as your average movie to get through, and even fairly novice gamers should be able to make it through without much difficulty. I do think it could've done with making the cooking a little more challenging - or at least allowing the player the choice to add some challenge - but what's there is enjoyable enough as it is.


Venba is short, simple and sweet, making it very easy to pick up and play by just about anyone, with a story featuring characters and subject matters that very few other games will even come close to touching. It's not going to be a challenging experience for most, but the cooking sections are still fun to play through, with the only downside being that you'll probably be very, very hungry by the time you finish playing.

[8/10 - Very Good]

 

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