Today we’re going to be returning to the world of Indie demos! This one comes to us from Steam, but it’s also the story of a young person struggling to find their place in a changing world.
Venice 2089 by Safe Place Studio puts you in the shoes of Nova, a bored teenager who has currently no clue about what to do in life and just wants to relax. Unfortunately, Venice has seen better days, as the tides become ever more unpredictable, at times making the lower city inaccessible.
Set in the year 2089, Nova lives with their grandfather in Venice and is at a bit of a crossroads in life, uncertain of where to go or what to do with their time. While they try to figure that out, they pull their hoverboard and explore Venice, running odd jobs/quests for the inhabitants of the city. Venice has definitely seen better days, and the city’s nearly uninhabited at this point. On the bright side, this means a lot more freedom, as well as space to cruise on a hoverboard with!
Navigating the city is fairly simple, if flawed. Venice 2089 offers you two methods of travel: walking or hoverboard. Walking is slower, unsurprisingly, and more precise. You’ll need to be on your feet to interact with objects, and while choosing to interact automatically makes you dismount, it’s a bit annoying. Fortunately, it’s only a bit.
The hoverboard is smoother and faster than walking, and it causes the music to change.
The game has a limited trick system, based largely on jumping and rail grinding, mainly to spice up traveling, but also to enable the collection of certain items that only appear when you’re on the board. They’re simple, colorful shapes hovering in the air, some of which you can get with ease and others will require jumping, grinding, or a combination of the two.
I must confess that after both playing the demo and watching someone else play it, I have absolutely no idea what these are for or what they do. The description of the game on Itch.io and Steam says “match your mood with the right vibes,” which leads me to assume that the items are these ‘vibes’. Unfortunately neither the pages nor the game ever explain what they are exactly or why I want to collect them.
Regardless, there are other reasons to explore the city, namely the other characters. They’ll ask you to help them find things mainly, giving you plenty of time to explore the city. And it’s a nice city too. Venice 2089 uses a 2.5D style, giving the city a decent amount of depth.
Gameplay wise it’s a 2D sidescroller, but the 2.5D nature of the map allows you to turn right and left, enabling you to move through alleys and pick specific routes at crossroads. This is especially useful, as in an interesting twist the unpredictable tides of the story actually impacts gameplay, meaning that certain roads will be inaccessible depending on the day.
At the end of the day Venice 2089 is a remarkably charming game. Despite the setting and cool hoverboard, Nova is a very relatable character, young but tired and incredibly uncertain of how their life should go from here. The hoverboard allows for some fun travel mechanics, simplistic but creative and enjoyable. All in all it’s a very cute, pleasant game. I enjoyed my time with the demo immensely, and I do look forward to the full release of the game, whenever that may be.
Images Courtesy of Safe Place Studio
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