Food is part and parcel of Indian culture. It acts as a centerpiece at traditional events and is a portal to childhood memories. Due to its significance in the lifestyle of South Asian communities, Visai Studios places cooking at the forefront of its narrative-driven game. With the aim to tell a touching story about sacrifice, family and hardship, will Venba manage to find the perfect blend that will nourish its audience?
Venba and her husband Immigrated from India to Canada and now struggle to make ends meet. Work is difficult to come by and isolation surrounds their existence. As they weigh up life in both countries and consider their future, they are blessed with a child. With the belief that North America will offer more opportunities for their newborn, they decide to stay. This leads to a family-focused tale about identity and love which will resonate with a number of people.
A Story Close to Home
As an Indian child of immigrant parents, the game truly spoke to me. I could relate to the scenarios and see my childhood glimmer in the mundanity presented. While it may not spark the same connection with everyone, the authentic representation of life will still allow you to invest in the narrative. The manner in which it deals with different perspectives of immigration is rarely seen in the media. Due to this, it is relatable for some and hopefully, enlightening for others. Without spoiling the story, Venba delves into subjects around the theme that are often overlooked. However, it does this with grace and class, offering only snippets of information to give a small insight into what people in the same situation have to deal with.
You will experience moments in the life of the family, seeing them grow older and encounter a variety of difficulties. Unfortunately, some of the more impactful moments don’t get time to breathe due to the game’s length. You quickly move from scene to scene and will hit the credits in just over an hour. Interspersed are moments of peace that center around cooking. You will need to make a variety of traditional dishes in gameplay segments similar to Cooking Mama. Interestingly, there is less hand-holding in Venba to the aforementioned release. You are able to get the order wrong and work out when and which ingredient to use. Pockets of information regarding the reasoning are also included to support future use of the ingredient.
Serving up a Feast
To aid the creation of the meal, you can refer to a cookbook left by your mother. Parts are obscured which means you must still work out aspects of the meal. However, if you are really stuck, you can also get a hint that guides you to the next section of the process. Making the food is straightforward with simple drag and drop functionality and prompts to follow. Although this has been designed to make the process as easy as possible, an awkwardness still resides due to the disconnect of a controller. This makes tasks a little tedious and adds a small layer of frustration to an otherwise delightful experience.
There’s a lovely cartoon aesthetic to the game. The colors are vibrant and permeate the experience. This helps to capture the spirit of the culture and further cements the legitimacy of the release. Enhancing the essence of India is the soundtrack. As with most South Asian families, music accompanies the cooking process and this features in Venba. Songs inspired by classic musicals add authenticity to the game and help to further amplify the culture. The genuine love that Abhi, the creator, has for his heritage shines through and due to this, it serves up a delicious dish for audiences.
Venba is a lovely, quaint tale that successfully captures the notion of an immigrant family struggling in Canada. The story is heartfelt and manages to tackle subjects in a sensitive and realistic manner. While the cooking aspects are a little awkward on the controller and its short run time means that certain story beats are not fully explored, the game maintains a level of charm that will keep you eager for the next dish.
*** An Xbox Series X review code was provided by the publisher ***
- Heartfelt Story
- Authentic Representation
- Lovely Presentation
- Very Short
- Awkward Cooking
- Could Have Delved Deeper