Venba Review

Richard Walker

Venba is a lovely game. The story of a family who have emigrated from India to Canada during the late '80s, it's a wonderfully vibrant and unique thing, following the culinary exploits of the eponymous Venba, mother to young Kavin, wife to hard-working Paavalan, and former teacher. Striving to forge a new life, Venba and family struggle to make ends meet, but find joy in food, cooking, and the communal experience that comes with food.

Make no mistake, Venba is heartwarming stuff: a narrative that unfolds from 1988 to the present day, taking in a whole variety of dishes as the titular character strives to restore her mother's tattered cookbook. As Venba whips up mouthwatering recipes, Kavin has trouble with displaying his Tamil heritage, refusing to take the food his mother makes to school, lest he end up being embarrassed or ostracised by the other kids. While Kavin tries to fit in, Venba insists he talks to her in Tamil, and over time he starts to push back.

Dealing with job application rejection letters and her husband's own challenges, Venba finds solace in the kitchen, which is where you're tasked with figuring out those old recipes within the yellowed, ragged pages of your mother's old recipe book – all running ink and torn-out sections. Cooking up Venba's mother's authentic Tamil dishes isn't quite as straightforward as you might think, and, occasionally, you'll have to rely on trial and error to get it right.

Don't be surprised if you mess up a meal, however, as it's (deliberately) not always entirely clear how to prepare a recipe or in which order you're supposed to add the ingredients. From seemingly plain, uncomplicated idlis (a South Indian rice cake; they're not that easy) to slightly more complex spreads, cooking is a cosy, relaxing activity, with simplistic inputs and gorgeous artwork that makes every dish look utterly delectable. I went away wanting to cook up every recipe to try them all for real (I've already bookmarked an idli recipe).

A fascinating insight into Tamil culture, and how that vibrant culture is inextricably bound to cuisine, Venba is video gaming food for the soul. An oddly comforting, touching, and emotional narrative punctuated by colourful, divine dishes that you can almost smell and taste, Venba's unique art style adds spice to the mix, making for a delicious indie experience that you can savour in the space of a single evening.

Short but oh-so-sweet, Venba is an engaging slice of life in which one family seeks to make a new life in Canada and overcome everyday obstacles, connecting and sharing special moments over South Indian cuisine. As the decades drift by and Venba and her family go through change and transition, food remains the one reliable constant – a permanent, immovable connection to their roots. Like a rich and aromatic biriyani, Venba is a tasty, short-lived morsel that lingers on the taste buds for but a moment, but lives on in the memory long after you've tucked in. Tasty.


A spicy blend of story and delicious South Indian cooking, Venba is a unique indie tale that deserves to be savoured. As developer Visai's debut game, this is stellar stuff.

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Upbeat Tamil music and a score that hits all the right notes, complementing the game's more emotional moments perfectly.


The fuzzy-edged art style lends Venba a warmth and sense of nostalgia that's hard to resist, while the artwork itself is colourful and appealing.


There's not a whole lot to Venba, but then there doesn't really need to be. Drag and drop ingredients, mix, spread... that sort of thing.


A polished, memorable experience that will stay with you, Venba is short but sweet, it's culinary journey proving engaging and enjoyable while it lasts.


A perfectly decent set of objectives to complete, encouraging a revisit or replay via the game's Chapter Select. Getting every meal right may prove tricky, though.

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