Venba, a video game about the emotional resonance of food | Toys

FFood is much more than just sustenance. It is an expression of love. For culture, and for those who eat. Venba is not so much a cooking game as it is a game Around Cooking – A narrative mystery about the restoration of an ancient cookbook that made its way into the hands of the titular character. Vinpa is a Tamil woman who left India for Canada with her husband to start over. They are already thinking of leaving when the news of her pregnancy reaches her. The first dish she makes in the game, a delicious rice cake called idli, becomes a way for Vinpa to deliver the news to her husband, a clever way to show how food can be a part of any memory.

“No matter what happens on any given day, the kitchen is always busy in South Asian homes,” says lead designer, who goes by the name Abhi. When children grow up and understand [into a new culture]They may forget their mother tongue, but they never forget cooked food.”

Vinpa’s mother’s old cookbook is key to every recipe you’ll try to recreate. Some of the instructions are smudged, or don’t make sense to someone unfamiliar with certain utensils or ingredients, so you have to baffle it all. Abhi says it’s an approach that fits the story Visai Games wanted to tell better than following a step-by-step recipe. “Finpa feels a lot of guilt for being away in the first place, and as her fast-assisted son grows up, her roots multiply.”

The food at Venba will introduce a lot of players to the Tamil culture and thus the recipes should be representative, but still accessible even for people who are not quite familiar with it. “We struggled a lot in the beginning to make a good puzzle out of these recipes,” says Abhi. “[South Asian] The recipes are usually quite long and complex, and while it was technically possible to create puzzles from them, it didn’t make the gameplay very enjoyable. After doing a lot of research, I found that some of the recipes actually had puzzles built into them already – we just had to figure them out and put them into context properly.” Abhi uses idlis as an example: In the game, Venba gets some tools like cloth and steam, as well as a drawing of what It should all look like it once assembled correctly, but the correct order of the steps is left to the players to figure out.

For my dad, the key to a good food puzzle is to find a balance between serving authentic recipes with precision while making them easy enough to understand and fun to play with for a wide audience. “Playing these puzzles is also very challenging, as people who have cooked these recipes before come with knowledge that makes solving them trivial,” he says. “But if you design it so that it is difficult even for them, it will be even more difficult for players who have never cooked like this!”

As fun as discovering these recipes, Abhi stresses that cooking is work, and the juggling work between raising a child and the experience of immigration is the core of Finpa’s novel. “Cooking in media is usually fun to watch, and at Venba too we really tried to capture and highlight how satisfying cooking can be with artistic, audio and visual effects. But, sometimes, cooking is a chore and we also want the players to feel that.”

Visai Studios aims for a rich experience that chronicles the struggles of its characters and teaches players about Tamil culture. It’s a little sweet, a little sour, but full of flavour.

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