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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Rondina

Venba Review

Venba is a heartwarming culinary adventure that simmers with the essence of family, culture, and the art of Tamil cuisine, all wrapped up in a rich narrative, my full review.

In the bustling bazaar that is the gaming industry, it’s rare to find a dish as rich and authentic as Venba. Cooked up by the Toronto-based Visai Studios, this title is a love letter to family, culture, and the culinary arts. Equal parts visual novel and clever cooking puzzle sim, the experience delivers from artistic direction, story to gameplay. Venba isn’t just a puzzle game; it’s a journey for the senses, a bridge between generations, and a testament to the immigrant experience.

"Venba isn’t just a puzzle game; it’s a journey for the senses, a bridge between generations, and a testament to the immigrant experience."

Set against the backdrop of Indian traditions and Canadian life, Venba invites you to step into the kitchen and cook your way through a family’s history, let’s dive into this heartwarming indie experience and explore why it’s so special with my full review.


Venba Details

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S 

Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch

Developer(s): Visai Studios

Publisher(s): Visai Studios

Genre: Puzzle, Indie Game

Mode(s): Single-player

ESRB Rating: T for Teen


A story of cultural preservation

Venba’s storyline is a delicate blend of spices and emotions, following an immigrant family from Tamil Nadu as they navigate their way through life in Canada. The heart of Venba lies in its portrayal of the immigrant struggle. The story picks up in the 1980’s when Venba and her husband leave India for Canada, seeking a better life. But their plans change when Kavin, their son, arrives unexpectedly. As first-generation immigrants, they grapple with anxieties about identity, belonging, and the delicate balance between preserving their heritage and assimilating into Western society. Kavin, a second-generation immigrant, embodies the tension between these worlds.

The game stirs the pot of narrative gaming, infusing it with the flavors of South Indian cuisine and the struggles of assimilation. This is all brought together beautifully using a generational cookbook, telling the family’s story through traditional Tamil recipes. The game’s narrative is a rich tapestry woven with threads of cultural identity, familial bonds, and the universal language of food.

"The game’s narrative is a rich tapestry woven with threads of cultural identity, familial bonds, and the universal language of food."

While the game is relatively short (under two hours), it leaves a lasting impression especially if you’ve ever called two or more places in different countries “home.”


Cooking as a Narrative Device

The cooking-based gameplay of Venba is very intuitive, and an incredibly creative storytelling device. You roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty in the kitchen with puzzles that are as much about cooking as they are about piecing together the family’s story. When you’re not immersed in the characters’ lives, you’re flipping through an heirloom cookbook, recreating dishes from scratch.

"When you’re not immersed in the characters’ lives, you’re flipping through an heirloom cookbook, recreating dishes from scratch."

Each recipe challenge is a mini story, filled with the spices of memory, and a dash of intuition to complete the dish and sequence.

As you chop, sauté, and season, you’re also unraveling the family’s history. The puzzles are engaging, and the culinary aspect adds depth to the narrative. I found myself selecting and dragging ingredients from one side of my screen to the other a lot, but the payoff of more story beats and beautiful art style more than made up for the repetitive loop. The gameplay of Venba is a delightful mix of puzzles and interactive storytelling that is hard to put down.


A feast for the senses

Visually, Venba is a feast for the eyes. The art direction is cartoony but gorgeous, capturing the warmth of family kitchens and the vibrancy of Indian culture. Its hand-drawn aesthetic and warm colour palette are a visual treat, reminiscent of flipping through a well-loved family recipe book. 

 

The audio design of Venba is like the perfect seasoning to a dish, enhancing every aspect of the game.

"The audio design of Venba is like the perfect seasoning to a dish, enhancing every aspect of the game."

The sizzle of spices in a pan, the chop of a knife, the bubbling of a stew – every sound is captured with a fidelity that adds an extra layer of immersion. Its soundtrack is inspired by Indian musicals, so along with the sounds of the kitchen the instrumental tracks are just as vibrant.

Final Thoughts on Venba

Venba is a game that nourishes the soul. It’s a lovingly crafted experience that celebrates the flavors of life, the warmth of family, and the joy of cooking. It offers a narrative experience that’s as rich and layered as the dishes it features. With its engaging puzzles, stunning visuals, and terrific sound design, Venba is a title that will speak to everyone in a unique way. Venba proves that sometimes, the simplest ingredients make the most memorable experiences.


Venba PROS

+Heartfelt storytelling that resonates with anyone who’s ever called two places home

+Gameplay that’s a great mix of puzzles and narrative

+A feast for the senses that celebrates Tamil culture


Venba CONS

-A short playtime that leaves you craving just a bit more

-Puzzles that might be too easy for those looking for a spicier challenge

-A single serving without much replayability


Overall Assessment of Venba

Gameplay: 8/10

Graphics: 9/10

Sound: 9/10

Replayability: 6/10


Overall Rating: 32/40 (80%)

A copy of the game was provided by Nintendo for the purpose of this review.

 

About the Author - Matthew "Dapper Tux" Rondina

Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Along with being the Managing Editor of dappertux.com, he has bylines with Best Buy, Cineplex Entertainment, Mobile Syrup and Walmart. Follow Matthew’s gaming + tech adventures on multiple social platforms with the handle @dapper_tux via "X", Instagram, Threads, TikTok and join in on the fun!

 

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