Venture is exactly the kind of game that select members of this site go crazy for and a cult following develops.
I played this thing last night and my mind is still reeling from just how strange, unique, cumbersome, charming, and awesome it was.
It dubs itself as an “adventure card game,” but that’s only because the main components are cards. Don’t think Pathfinder ACG, this comes across as something more akin that upper echelon of adventure games like Dungeon Degenerate or Shadows of Malice. If you liked either of those, Dark Venture is very much your thing.
The setting is far future fantasy devastated by magical catastrophe that killed most people but changed those who lived. And then it happened again. This is one of those games where the artist is also the designer and what you get is a complete *vision.* The artwork draws to mind Gamma World, Bakshi’s Wizards, 1st edition D&D and He-Man if Eternia went to hell in a hand basket.
I don't want to spoil anything but this is a game that tells weird fantasy stories. It has a strong Dying Earth vibe to it. I had the ability to rip open space time. I discovered an alternate timeline. This kind of “big idea” stuff is EVERYWHERE. Whenever a location is played, you reference a book that describes what you see from the distance, giving you just enough mystery to want to see what it is or maybe run the other way. Entering the location triggers another passage that describes what happens. I'm not sure if the retail version will have it, but the Kickstarter edition has 2 sets of books to help keep that stuff fresh. As it stands, I played 12 rounds and hardly saw any substantial amount of what could happen.
Gameplay is rather unique and it took awhile getting used to it at first. Rules are unfortunately buried in the rulebook and this is not a game for those who want their hand held through how to play. You just have to stop worrying and go for it. It ended up being much more straight forward than Shadows of Malice or Dungeon Degenerates once I got a hang of it. The locations and characters that appear are largely out there by players. I really enjoyed feeling like I was helping to layout the ground work for where this strange story could go while still being immersed in it.
I highly recommend this one.