Not a ground-breaking title but one that offers good value for money.
Rise of Venice is the newest game released by Kalypso, a German developer that has made their name based around their simulation games such as Patrician, a medieval trade sim which now boasts four titles to its name. And also one of their more recent successes, the Tropico series, where you take on a role of a leader of a small Caribbean island.
Rise of Venice is essentially more of a continuation of the Patrician series, defining itself as a trading/political simulator during the rise of the Renaissance. As you could have guessed by the title, the majority of the intrigue will take place in Venice during their struggle with the neighbouring city state of Genoa. You are a young trader starting your life in Venice and you must prove yourself through excelling in naval trade and cunning political maneuvers to seize power for your family.
Many Patrician series players will find the trading mechanic fairly easy to grasp. The new addition of politics essentially is just doing favours for various parties to gain influence or in some cases conduct sabotages on your rivals to give you an edge. Be warned, this is not an action game and some people may not find it their cup of tea, but it can also prove a hugely immersive experience and you can end up spending hours on it.
The graphics are solid but they’re not exactly cutting edge; they do create the right atmosphere and are efficient in their delivery. Gameplay takes place on a 3D map of the Mediterranean, where you can oversee your trading empire. I found that, on occasion, my computer had trouble rendering the fully zoomed out map but the settings can be lowered without any noticeable impact on gameplay, which begs the question: does it really need 3D mountains and trees on the global map? I understand that it allows you to see everything from a 360 degree angle, but I didn’t find the need to do this at all during the game.
Gameplay on its own can be very exciting for certain people with a penchant for trading and naval battling, but may not appeal to everyone. If you are looking for adrenaline-pumping action, this probably isn’t for you. But if you enjoy simulations and strategy in developing trade routes, managing production, logistics and supply chains, as well as going head-to-head with your competitors, then you will really enjoy it.
As for combat, Rise of Venice offers very simplistic naval warfare. While basic, it also offers a refreshing change of scenery from global strategy. You can command a maximum of three ships in a battle, which may seem small but it doesn’t feel like epic battles were really the aim of the game. Taking that into account, I am impressed how well they have implemented this non-core gameplay aspect, which is a massive improvement from their previous Patrician series.
The high quality atmospheric soundtrack is also worth mentioning as it helps to immerse you into the world of Venetian intrigues. As for the multiplayer aspect, Rise of Venice offers a four player co-op mode, adding to the game’s replay value.
At times, however, the game does seem very impersonal and can become tedious at times. Despite this, once you take a look at the trading empire you have built, you feel a certain sense of pride and your boredom seems to drift away.
In summary, Rise of Venice is not a ground-breaking title that would change the industry, and it seems to be catered for a niche gaming spectrum. However, what it does is offer good value for money, 20+ hours of campaign and an even longer free play mode. Welcome to Venice; you might find yourself spending a bit of time here.