Venti Mesi – A graphic novel with a sour taste

VentiMesi_Featured

Venti Mesi is an indie graphic novel released by We Are Muesli. On GameJolt it was released on the 7th of February 2016.

It was made with the Ren’Py visual novel engine.

Story

Being a visual novel means a lot of emphasis is put on the interactive story. In this case there are 20 of such stories, showing unique characters and their experience during the World War II in the Milan area of Italy.

The story unfolds in regards to what choice has been selected, and sometimes they appear after a delay. This is a bit confusing at start but it catches on nicely allowing the player some breathing space and humanizing the characters further.

The use of  “>>” is rather bad. This makes for the choices to look odd. You would not find many of such symbols in real novels and as they don’t really mean much their existence is questionable. Obviously since it’s a graphic novel it will have choices that leads to more story, “>>” is stating the obvious.

A reoccurring problem here is that the writing, although decent, does have some choices leading to parts of the story that seem inappropriate for the character speaking. Also some choices seem to just be fillers as they don’t have anything meaningful attached.

Art

The game’s art has been nominated for the Premio Drago d’Oro 2016.

This is a graphic novel, apart from the story, the second main attraction is the art.

I’m unsure how the game was nominated for the art but I suppose there were not many Italian games made in that period. The chosen art direction is wrong. This is a game that wants to explain what people were going through during that time.

The overall color pallet would need to have darker desaturated tones in order to achieve that desperation and confusion feeling the game strives for.

The characters, the ones which the player must empathize with look like Ocean Sunfish and to top all that, the developer thought that putting graphics through their faces is a good idea.

Art in this case is most distracting, and the lips animation hilarious for taking on such a serious topic.

Audio

A great piano piece is played throughout the who game. It is voiced over in Italian only with English subtitles which sometimes I doubt they are translated correctly.

The combination of slow tempo with low pitched notes with a fast temp and high pitched notes manages to create a rather tense atmosphere.

If I could choose something that makes the game stand out it would be the inappropriate and cheaply made graphics in contrast with the great soundtrack

Gameplay elements

The whole gameplay revolves around selecting choices of how the story should continue.

Some are relevant, some are not, and some are like this:

At some point I had to go through around 5 of the same choices in a row, simply because I was not selecting what the developer intended for me to choose.

The controls are fairly easy, as a Readme file is attached explaining. However half of the times, some of these don’t work, especially the Ctrl for going into Skip Mode.

What could have been done better

The art could have been definitely much better by taking a whole new art direction. In terms of something that would have taken the same amount of resources I’d suggest a sketchy Tim Burton type.

Secondly the story choices could have been less and more meaningful.

Let’s Play

This is my video while playing the game.

Summary

I feel that this game was wrongfully nominated for many things since it lacks in all areas except the sound track.

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