Kalypso Media’s newest political/mercantile simulation game has made its way into our hands, and it is a solid experience. Rise of Venice is set during the height of the Italian Renaissance and follows a young man’s quest for fame, power and wealth. While I love history and historical-based games, an economic/political simulator set during the Italian Renaissance wouldn’t be one of my first choices of genres to sit down and play for hours on end. I was pleased to find that Rise of Venice does a great job in making these aspects of Renaissance life both interesting and fun to play, if you can make it past the steep initial learning curve.
The story is one of family. The family patriarch is on his death bed and summons you to give you his last wishes. He persuades you to leave the life of a mercenary and to finish the dream that he saw for his family, to become a powerful mercantile force in Venice. Your patriarch gives you enough gold and a ship to begin your business, then leaves the rest in your hands. Other members of your family pop up during the game to help you out by giving advice, or taking control of some of the ships in your ever growing fleet. Your goal is simply to become rich and powerful, in one of the richest and most powerful cities in the world during this period.
The story progresses through cut scenes and in game conversations with family members. As you become richer and more powerful, you must deal with more complicated situations and make tough political and economic decisions to better your family. Your progression through the story line depends on your political favor in Venice, thus decisions you make in game along with deals you complete may stall your progression if the Venetian council deems you not worthy enough of a new rank. The story moves along well at times, as long as you are making the right deals, both politically and economically. It is also filled with enough intrigue and backstabbing to make it interesting, without being too much. While it won’t bring you to tears like other games on the market, the story here does a very solid job in bringing the intrigue of Renaissance Venice to life.
The game play for Rise of Venice breaks down to you making the right trade decisions to earn the most money in order to climb up the political ladder in Venice. The beginning of the game has you making deals with other cities, such as Genoa, Rome, and Tripoli, with one ship so managing your manual deals is a fairly easy. As the game progresses and the amount needed to reach the next political level increases, you must set up trade routes among your fleet of ships, and that is where the rise in difficulty comes in. Setting these trade routes is nothing short of frustrating and required an outside source for me to understand. However, once understood, trading becomes much easier and more efficient way to make money automatically. I will echo the sentiment on Kalypso Media’s forums and say that a more in depth tutorial on setting up trade routes in needed in game.
What makes Rise of Venice much more then just a trading simulator is the political intrigue that is hidden within each port. Rivals will bribe officials to deny you access to ports, while wars between Venice and other cities will make it nearly impossible to trade with Venice’s enemies unless you bribe the officials yourself. Political maneuvering, bribery, and all out naval warfare occur throughout the game, adding much more to Rise of Venice then just sliders of prices and goods.
Cities will build up in power and in size depending on how much wealth they will gain by your decisions. Disasters, war, and disease will also plague these ports and will hinder your progress, or determine what goods are needed by the cities. Combat in Rise of Venice is unavoidable, since you are bound to make some enemies by the decisions you make. Combat is done at a frantic pace that does not allow any time to develop strategies or tactics to defend yourself. For me, combat was very tedious and mind numbing due to the artificial intelligence deciding to spin in circles most of the time. The good news is that combat, for the most part, can be simulated but the game does force your hand in certain situations.
Rise of Venice looks good, very good. From the glassy reflection off of the water to the sea life barely visible under the waves, Rise of Venice is a joy to look at. The aesthetic is bright and sunny, which really lends to a Mediterranean feel to the entire game. You can zoom completely out to see the entire map of the area and just watch the symbols of ships cross from port to port, or you can zoom in and really see the detail of the game. Cities are alive with bustling crowds, shipyards, and surrounding forests. Sound effects help add to this feeling of nautical life, with bells whenever you enter a port and the sounds of crashing waves as your ship crosses the Mediterranean. Voice acting is good in Rise of Venice, not fantastic. The actors do a good job in reading the lines and portraying characters, but without an Italian accent. It’s a shame that a game about Renaissance Italy did not go as far as to hire actors that could do a decent Italian accent.
Rise of Venice is a strong game about political intrigue and mercantilism during the Italian Renaissance. Kalypso Media does a good job in bringing this world to life with a very pleasing aesthetic and danger at every port. Rise of Venice does have a steep learning curve with some of the game play mechanics, such as automatic trade routes, and can stall at times if you do not have enough wealth or power to reach the next level. However, if you stick with Rise of Venice, you will be pleasantly surprised at the depth of intrigue and bargaining that can be done in the game. Rise of Venice is a solid, historical game that players will really enjoy. Rise of Venice is available now.
[easyreview title=”Product Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”3″ ]
[button target=”_blank” style=”” class=”btn_blue” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]