Venba Review 


Venba recently caught my attention during a special preview presentation featuring the Game Designer at Visai Games, Abhi. It’s a narrative-focused cooking game centred on a family from the southern part of India and the cultural difficulties they face living in a new country. The excitement levels going into Venba are pretty high and I had a real appetite for the Tamil culture at the heart of it. 

Now that Venba is here, does it manage to satisfy my appetite, or will I be left wanting more from it?

In the best way possible, I absolutely want more.

venba review pic
Venba, Paavalan, and Kavin preparing to launch puttu

The year is 1988 and the titular Venba is struggling to adapt to life after emigrating to Toronto, Canada with her husband, Paavalan. Everything is harder due to the language barrier and society in general, especially when applying for jobs. Despite their best efforts to make a fresh start, they consider returning home to Tamil Nadu, until a pleasant surprise changes their plans. With a new addition to the family, Kavin, Venba does her best to keep them connected to their cultural heritage through cooking homemade recipes. 

That’s how the story begins, and it covers important moments in their lives, spanning almost thirty years. It’s such a lovely and heartwarming tale, yet also sad at times. But it’s one that’s told with a perfect amount of subtlety, allowing you to occasionally piece together certain aspects which are alluded to. The difference in cultures is excellently woven into the narrative and I found it utterly fascinating to be honest. 

Venba herself is an especially likeable character and her aura almost instantly draws you into the world, making you care about the whole family. That’s not an easy task without the use of any voiceovers, however the text dialogue and visuals convey everything that’s needed for the characters to come into their own and for their personalities to shine.

Figuring out how to make idlis

There are seven chapters in total, with all but one getting you stuck into some cooking. Essentially you’re working with a very old and worn recipe book, so the whole process for each one becomes a puzzle of sorts. For example, making idlis is made trickier due to the writing being smudged, which leaves you to decipher what to do with the plates of batter to ensure it doesn’t leak. Basically it’s towel placement that solves the situation.

Other cooking situations involve recreating a dish via visual memories of Venba’s previous experience many moons ago alongside her mother. It’s a fairly straightforward case of grabbing the ingredients in the correct order. My favourite part though sees Kavin trying to do a spot of cooking as he struggles to translate from Tamil to English, forcing you to try and work out the roughly translated portion. 

Nothing during the cooking sequences is mentally taxing; instead it’s relatively relaxing and fun, with optional help if for some reason you do hit a snag. Capturing the actual sounds you’d hear during the real cooking process is a nice touch to add authenticity. The vibrant food visuals also help tremendously in making these moments memorable as well, with the final products almost always causing feelings of hunger. I’ve never fancied dosas or biryanis more than I did after playing through those particular chapters. 

venba review pic 3
Cooking delicious looking food

What ensures the vibe is absolutely spot on through every single step of Venba, is the soundtrack. Composed by Alpha Something, each track goes hand in hand wonderfully with the chapter it accompanies. The tunes, inspired by the music of Tamil films from different eras, really set the tone to perfectly create the atmosphere necessary for that part of the story. They’re ridiculously catchy too, with the Kanni Kanini regularly popping into my head in the aftermath, evoking memories of my time in Venba.

Venba opens up a door and invites you in for a hearty meal that will stay with you for a long while. The narrative itself is over in under two hours, but it still manages to captivate and deliver a poignant story in the short duration. Cooking is an enjoyable pastime and the puzzling does enough to provide a sense of reward. The presentation of Tamil culture throughout Venba is done brilliantly too because there’s enough here to pique your interest and I’m convinced you’ll be left wanting to learn more. 

Don’t be too concerned about the shortness of Venba, for its fascinating story and cultural delights will certainly make up for it. 


  • A cultural delight
  • Wonderful storytelling
  • Authentic food and fun cooking sequences
  • Fantastic soundtrack
  • It’s too short
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Popagenda
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 31 July 2023 | £TBC
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>A cultural delight</li> <li>Wonderful storytelling</li> <li>Authentic food and fun cooking sequences</li> <li>Fantastic soundtrack</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>It’s too short</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Popagenda</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 31 July 2023 | £TBC</li> Venba Review 
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