Strategy games will always be a staple in the PC gaming industry. The genre of RTS is varied, you don't always have to amaze large armies and destroy your enemies. What if all you wanted to do was be a merchant? Well thanks to the creators of Port Royale 3 we now have that RTS game. Rise in Venice is an RTS Mercant Simulator. This outside the box thinking is what really sets it apart from other games like Civiization, Red Alert, and similar titles. How does Rise of Venice compare though? Well, its hard to make said comparison due to it being so different.
As a young man striving for success, power and wealth and with the support of your family, you begin to build up a trading empire across Genoa, Tripoli, Rome, Alexandria and Constantinople in addition to many other significant cities from the Renaissance. As you progress through the ranks of Venetian society, increasing your power with smart trading moves and calling in the occasional favor you can begin to assemble your own fleet. With this you will start to build up new production facilities, test yourself in challenging sea battles where you will face off against pirates as well as political enemies to finally become the Doge of Venice.
The story feels like something you would watch on HBO about some historic family that had a major influence on how a specific event played out. Without the nudity though. The characters are well written and well voiced (for the most part). The story is played out nicely and the cutscenes are awesome. The artwork and visuals of this game are spectacular. From the artwork in the cutscenes to the overworld design the colors are vibrant and brilliant in HD. Even the ships look great when in a close-up. The beauty is in the details with Rise of Venice.
The gameplay is both simple, but complex and deep. The idea is simple, you trade goods back and forth between cities to earn a profit and gain reputation with other families so that you can become the Doge of Venice. The simple rules of supply and demand apply and that alone is enough to carry you through most of the game. Then you have advancement. You cannot immediately trade all of the goods at the beginning of the game. You must become a better trader to transport more valuable items. Advancing in rank is typically the main goal of the game.
You can do favors for other family members. These usually involve buying and selling goods at low prices. Doing these have positive and negative effects, so choose the favors wisely. It is easy to get senate members against you and difficult to get them on your side. There are tricks of the trade you will learn as you play through the story but I will let you figure those out. After all, everyone does business differently. This is the renaissance, you have to expect there will be a third party trying to rip you off. Rival families and pirates will do whatever they can to undermine your goal to become the Doge of Venice. You can partake in naval battles. Although this is not a core feature it is still a nice one to break up the gameplay. You can autoresolve or micromanage your fleet to fight off your enemies. While the combat is a bit clunky, it really does break up the monotony of traveling back and forth between cities for the last 4 hours.
Rise of Venice has it's own fair share of problems. The game's multiplayer is very average and the pacing/conveyance is horrid. Despite the various tips and mission explanations you will still wonder what to do and where to go. This happens through the entire game and it kills the potential fun it has. You can change the speed of the game but the pacing is still incredibly slow. I guess in a sense this adds depth to the game. You can see yourself on the cusp of advancement but it feels like it is taking ages to get there due to supplies being too expensive to buy and aren't selling for enough. If you have the patience, the pacing won't bother you that much.
Rise of Venice seems to be lacking something vital in its development and I wish I knew what it was. It leaves you wanting more out of the game even though you have experienced all it has to offer. Rise of Venice is a good strategy game and a nice Merchant Simulator. It isn't great and requires a lot of know-how and plenty of patience. This is a game that will not please everyone who plays it. The artwork, music, and visuals are top notch, but everything else is just very average. Rise of Venice has a lot of depth, but it doesn't give you a rope or flashlight to explore it well enough. I give Rise of Venice on the PC a 7/10. You can pick it up on Steam now, it has trading cards.