A Visitor on Venus - Itch Game of the Week

No matter how hard a gamewright tries, sometimes something gets in the way of their intent.

A Visitor on Venus is a game created by Sean LeBlanc, Ian Martin and Michael Hetman. It can be found at the time of writing at this page.

I don’t have a typical choice for my pick this week because I came across a game that caught me by surprise in an interesting way that’s worth talking about.

A Visitor on Venus is a short future-set visual novel about a character who gets stranded on Venus during a vacation away from home. The game is an entry to a game jam that restricts visuals to old computer palettes. This game uses that restriction of 4 colours to shade it’s settings as alien. The colours shift to give a sense of uneasiness to the lit areas of the player’s environment, the constant shifting makes the world feel ever unsteady. And for most players I think this would probably work. The problem is for me is that I’m utterly unable to feel this way about the game and its depiction of Venus because I know exactly where it’s set, literally down the street from my old apartment.

A Visitor on Venus’s exotic alien estate is actually the Ottawa Convention Centre, a new expansion added in the last couple years to the city’s largest mall. It’s located literally steps from Canada’s seat of government which makes it one of the most visited tourist spots in the country. It’s also about three blocks from my previous apartment where I lived for several years. The convention centre can be seen in the game’s title card above and should be pretty instantly recognizable for anyone familiar with the area.

That makes A Visitor on Venus a game I can’t honestly approach as intended by LeBlanc, Martin and Hetman. That can’t be a private garden at a neglected resort, it’s where I’d go to have picnics and attend food truck festivals. That can’t be the estate of a reclusive quadrillionaire, it’s where I catch the bus to work. It did have fun identifying places and spots I recognize, it’s a kind of game you can regularly play with film. That medium usually has to be shot somewhere, and an active viewer can try to identify where exactly that is. But games are almost always set in fictional spaces, of highly fictionalized places that share the name of real places.

So while I couldn’t really play A Visitor on Venus, I did enjoy it in my own way. I figure I can kind of apologize for not giving it a fair shake by making it my game of the week.

A Visitor on Venus was the game of the week for June 18th, 2017.