Adventure Corner ~ Venba

Welcome to Adventure Corner, a column where members of the RPGamer staff can give their thoughts, impressions, and pseudo-reviews for various adventure titles that don’t come under our usual coverage. Adventure Corner is aimed at delivering opinions on a wide range of titles including visual novels, point-and-click adventures, investigative mysteries, and so forth.

In this edition of the column, we take a look at Visai Studio’s cooking narrative adventure Venba on PC.


Platform: PC
Release Date: 07.31.2023
Publisher: Visai Studios
Developer: Visai Studios


I grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, surrounded by many different cultures. My Scottish mother was a daycare provider and my Italian father was a unionized carpenter. I grew up with kids from different backgrounds: Filipino, Guyanese, Indian, Italian, Jamaican, and Trinidadian to name a few. I went to a Catholic school where many of the kids in my classes were eating foods I didn’t grow up with, and I remember sometimes being a bit of a snot when it came to grasping their backgrounds and their lunches. It wasn’t until I went to many of my friends’ houses that I grew to appreciate their cultural backgrounds and the special cuisines their parents would share with me. 

Venba tells the story of an Indian family that emigrates to Canada in the 1980s. In the beginning, we are introduced to Paavalan and Venba, a young married couple who are expecting their first child. Venba carries her mother’s old recipe book and begins cooking some of the classic meals that she grew up with. As players progress in the narrative, they are taken to 1994, where their son Kavin is now five years old and going to an English-speaking school. Kavin talks about wanting pizza and not the Indian food that he has grown up with. As Kavin grows up, we begin to see the divide between him and his parents as he has assimilated into Canadian culture, while his parents have been left behind. The story uses food as a way to reconnect Venba and Kavin, and it makes for many important and touching moments throughout.

While I never experienced what the characters in Venba felt, the story was still incredibly familiar to me. Food is the love language of every culture, and watching Kavin reject his Indian heritage throughout the story was difficult to watch, especially when Venba picks up that he finds his lunches embarrassing and would bring them home untouched. Even my own father would tell me stories similar to Kavin’s experience, wherein he would have veal parm sandwiches on a bun, and he would try to trade with the other kids for a peanut butter sandwich because peanut butter was something my Nonna refused to buy.

Time to launch the puttu rocket!

It’s abundantly clear that the developers of Venba poured their heart and soul into crafting this love letter of a game to share the hardship and adjustment period that comes with being a new immigrant. Venba shares its very familiar story with the player, and it’s one that many can empathize with. The dialogue choices that are present in Venba allow players to explore themes of loss of identity, family tradition, and the struggle of providing in a country where to get ahead you have to know the right people.  

While making choices throughout the narrative is a core part of Venba’s gameplay, the other half comes in the form of cooking traditional Tamil dishes and restoring Venba’s mother’s tattered recipes. Many of the recipes are often missing steps, and the game provides subtle hints on how the dishes must be crafted. If the player is truly stumped they can get a fuller hint, and the game also offers additional information about the recipe they are making. My favourite moment in the story was when Venba and Kavin are making puttu, and she describes making it as though you are launching a rocket ship. The first time I put the ingredients into the puttu maker, I had the coconut and puttu flour in the wrong order so when my “rocket launched” it disintegrated into a pile of puttu dust. Having the humour in that failure moment was as incredibly touching as it was funny. Successfully putting the puttu rocket together creates such a beautiful family moment between Kavin, Paavalan, and Venba that I found myself grinning from ear to ear.

The cooking elements in the game for the most part are very straightforward and using the mouse to control the objects and items in different recipes is fairly smooth. While I was completely unfamiliar with many of the dishes in Venba, the game does an amazing job of not only sharing the dishes’ importance but also offering clear direction when players fail. There are a couple of motions with the mouse that did feel a bit stiff, but after a few tries, I was able to get the hang of it. The game also does a wonderful job of tying the narrative to food, allowing players to get a sense of how important these recipes are to Venba and how much she wishes to pass her love of them to her son, Kavin. 

Who doesn’t love their food smiling at them?

Some really gorgeous animation does a brilliant job of selling the player on the game’s story and its gameplay. From the dosa plate sizzling with hot ghee to the pressure cooker steaming chicken, so many little touches bring the world of Venba to life. Despite how many times I found myself tearing up throughout the narrative, I also found my stomach growling at the sight of the gorgeous food. The game also has a lovely soundtrack featuring traditional Tamil music that feels truly immersive and accompanies the story beats and gameplay flawlessly.  

Venba is an emotional title that shares the importance of food, family, and appreciating one’s roots. Not only did I cry in my hour-and-a-half playing this game, but I found myself thinking about all my friends growing up who were in similar situations and how their families grappled with hardship but also persevered to give their children the best possible life they could. The game brought back so many memories for me and allowed me to reflect on my childhood and all my amazing friends that I still know to this day. Venba reminds us that there is beauty in everything and that it can always be recaptured, even in times of need.

Disclosure: This article is based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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