Windows 7, Windows 10 Game

Taking over the route and just doing it manually solved that problem, but it’s not feasible to juggle more than a couple of manual convoys at once (nor are you really supposed to once you’re…

Gaming Minds Kalypso Rise of Venice Rise of Venice, review, PC, Kalypso, Gaming Minds
3 10
PC Review

Rise of Venice Review

Game Details
Developer: Gaming Minds
Publisher: Kalypso
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Taking over the route and just doing it manually solved that problem, but it’s not feasible to juggle more than a couple of manual convoys at once (nor are you really supposed to once you’re potentially commanding eight or ten of the buggers.) It’s not that automated trade routes always fail, but since you’re unable to rely on your instructions actually being carried out it’s necessary to babysit them. This rather defeats the purpose of automation.

It’s possible to micro-manage even further by designating precisely how many of each particular commodity an automated trader puts on board instead of defaulting to a general “buy low, sell high” command, but the ever-changing nature of economic forces mean this sort of route needs to be tinkered with even more frequently.

rise of venice (3)

Trust anything on this screen at your peril.

Faffing about with trade goods is mostly preferable to fighting the real-time naval battles though, which haven’t changed a great deal since I last criticised them in Patrician IV. My heart sank for these when I realised you couldn’t even select individual ships by clicking directly on them, but instead had to choose the correct one of three from a menu list over on the side. An absolutely insane UI decision.

Here’s how to win every single naval battle in the game: use chain shot to disable sails, and use the absurdly fiddly boarding mechanism to (sometimes) steal the ship you’re attacking. Once you have enough cash, use burning oil to set the sails on fire instead. Sell the stolen ships for cash or use them in your trading empire. Profit.

The only challenge offered by Rise of Venice’s naval scraps is struggling with the interface and trying to see what the hell is going on when the game opts for a “fog” battlefield that obscures 80% of your view. After a handful of ‘manual’ naval fights you will probably want to avoid them forever.

Well tough, you often can’t. The campaign mode is hyper-focused on quests involving battles (the final chapter is literally just wave after wave of pirates going after you) and will force you to play at least some of them in manual mode whether you wish to or not. Unless, of course, you don’t have a particular convoy selected and it gets into a fight off-screen; then you won’t even be given the chance to try to save it will just have to watch it (most likely) get destroyed. This is obviously terrific when you have multiple convoys of precious cargo to watch out for.

rise of venice (10)

As you can see, fog battles are utterly amazing.

Free play mode is, by its nature, less restrictive and won’t push you into any unwanted manual battles. You can randomise which cities will produce which goods, how large the starting populations are, what price goods will max out at and other economic tweaks like price curves and slumps. It’s still victim to some apparently dodgy trade mechanics and awful battles, but at least you can mitigate the former by staying as hands-on as possible and the latter by auto-resolving.

Sadly, the political layer is underwhelming in all forms. As a keen player of Crusader Kings II, the potential for devious Venetian backstabbing was an aspect I’d really looked forward to. There are indeed murders and kidnappings galore; but only in narrative cutscenes. The stuff you actually control is restricted to lowering a rival’s status with the Council (something that seems most suited to multiplayer, a mode that was uninhabited in this pre-release review code,) blocking their access to a certain port (same) and nabbing stuff from warehouses. If you’re going to attempt political intrigue in a game, it helps if it’s actually intriguing.

That warehouse option helps goods to wind up on the (very useful) Black Market that pops up in the ocean from time to time, and the others can increase your standing with certain Council members, but those benefits are offset by the frequency with which the AI rivals will use them to randomly screw you over with no recourse. Why, exactly, is my character so opposed to hiring some warehouse guards to prevent this? Sure, I could retaliate by lowering their Council standing, but I’m the only one actively pursuing a quest for noble advancement so why should I waste my time and gold?

rise of venice (2)

The flame effects and the ocean both look quite nice at least.

Members of your family tree exist as flavourless, functional mechanics rather than actual personalities. I know that someone related to me gives +10% influence with a Council member, but ask me for her name and I’d have no idea. At some point I had a daughter, but the game didn’t even bother to tell me. Like so much of the game, the familial and political sides are an outright disappointment.

Rise of Venice is a strategy title that fails on almost every level to achieve what others have already perfected. If you like the idea of economic production chains, give one of the recent (also Kalypso-published) Tropico games a go. Alternatively, fire up Anno 1404 and get hold of the Venetian-themed add-on, or maybe just play as Venice and beat up the Ottomans in the excellent Europa Universalis IV. If character intrigue is your thing, Crusader Kings II has that locked down hard. And if you’re wanting to just swashbuckle your way across the waves, something like Sid Meier’s Pirates! is probably still your best bet. Whichever you choose, you’ll have a far more rewarding time.


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In a year awash with excellent PC strategy titles, Rise of Venice is stranded on the shores of disappointment. But at least the trade skills it imparts may enable you to swap it for a better game.

Related to this article


  • Fabian

    Disappointing score…

    I like it anyway 😉

    For more information on this game you can visit

  • Kodes

    You really should rate these stinkers with steaming turds out of ten.

  • nasarius

    I was so hoping for a good sequel to Patrician 4, which wasn’t half bad.

    Think I’ll just wait for X Rebirth to get my build-a-trading-empire fix.

  • Falconer

    I’ve been playing Rise of Venice for two weeks for my own review and have not experienced any bugs at all after the patch that was released on the 26th (there still may be, but I’ve not seen any).

    You should have checked the stability of the game on the release date and not write your REVIEW on PREVIEW code.

    In the final version, the trade system works fabulous. Also, even in the preview version, fog of war is NOT crippling at all. It does what it is supposed to do. Check your screen settings. Lastly, the interface is more than capable (I’m the first to complain about interfaces).


    • Jancelot

      I’m sorry but you gave Total War Rome 2 an 8.5… Which is one of the most broken and unplayable games ever. How can I can I take your opinion on other games serious?

      • Falconer

        That was a different reviewer, not me personally, but if you’ve read the review you will have seen that it was written after patches came out that largely stabilized the game. That lifted the score to a degree it would not have otherwise been able to reach. It’s a shame that CA decided to release the game in such a buggy state though, it was unnecessary.

        As for scoring, HG scores based on how much fun we’ve had with the game. We care little for things like graphics and other production values. In the end, all that matters is whether a game is enjoyable or not. Obviously William enjoyed the game quite a bit when the patches fixed it.

    • Peter Parrish

      This review was based on code provided by the publisher Kalypso and deemed suitable for review. Your review went up on the same day as ours, so I’m pretty sure you played exactly the same build.

      I imagine some of the bugs have been fixed post-release, but presumably the game still has an exceptionally tedious trade model, dreadful naval battles, atrocious campaign plot pacing and a paper-thin political layer. The interface (outside of naval fights) is pretty fine though, so I think we agree on that!

      You liked the game. I didn’t, at all – and explained why. It’s almost as if game reviews should be a matter of opinion.

  • Napoleon1066

    “Unload Raw Materials” only unloads cargo at a friendly storehouse where they can be used to make some other good. I think the option to make your automated convoys sell goods is, I believe, “Sell Goods” or “Sell Cargo” or something.

  • Peter Parrish

    Yeah, I was trying to use “unload raw materials” to drop off some metal/wood at a friendly warehouse that was (supposedly) making tools from those materials. My captain wasn’t having any of it.