Venba – A Home Comfort Cooking Game
Venba is a narrative cooking game that tells the story of an Indian immigrant family through their food. If you know anything about Asian culture you’ll know that family and food go hand in hand. Food is eaten together, shared and people of a family or community often come together to prepare it as well. It’s an integral aspect of the Asian experience and as an immigrant bringing their culture with them to foreign soil makes it even more important.
Venba by Visai Games is a heartfelt love letter to South Indian cuisine and culture. In it, you’ll cook “authentic food from regional South Indian cuisine” as well as listen to Tamil-music-inspired radio. It’s not a story or viewpoint that has been heavily explored in games. I’m excited to play through Venba when it launches on the 31st of July 2023 for the PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PC.
The titular Venba is an Indian mum who immigrates to Canada with her husband Paavalan and son in the 1980s. They’ve been here a long time but economic challenges have them reconsidering whether they can continue to live so far away from home. Looking for a piece of comfort Venba turns to her family’s recipe book. It contains years of family recipes and childhood favourites, but unfortunately, the book has been damaged on their journey here. As she attempts to recreate the lost recipes you’ll experience the stories of her life and the home she left behind.
The story of Venba is very much focused on her family the culture and heritage roots of Southern India. As you go through the family’s cookbook, Venba remembers little things about her childhood. In one soft moment you come upon the book’s idli recipe, Venba has her own recipe, but then she remembers that her mother’s idlis were softer and better than hers.
This is a story about first-generation immigrants, their experience and their struggle to integrate to a new land, while still keeping their homeland alive in their hearts.
Venba is both parts a cooking and a narrative game. On the narration side, you’ll be able to hold branching conversations with your family. Your decisions will affect the result of the story, giving you multiple opportunities to replay the game.
On the cooking side, Venba utilises a light puzzle mechanic, where you follow cooking instructions that are sometimes obscured. In this regard, some trial and error may occur where you’ll need to take hints from the dialogue, her memories or simply make some guesses to complete the recipe. This is similar to games like Coffee Talk where trial and error is important to finding recipes. Especially if like me you fail to pick up those cues.
Venba is a short narrative cooking game, where you play as an Indian mom, who immigrates to Canada with her family in the 1980s. Players will cook various dishes and restore lost recipes, hold branching conversations and explore this story about family, love, loss and more.