Narrative cooking game Venba may cause biryani cravings, tears

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(Image credit: Visai Games)

A lot of cooking games are designed to be stressful: By getting you to cook while jumping in between portals or making you deal with hangry hordes, they change a normally peaceful daily activity into something harried and intense. Not so with Venba, a cooking puzzle game slash visual novel that released on Steam this week. It's about an Indian family that moves to Canada, and instead of lines of screaming customers, you'll prepare meals for your family by solving puzzles and unlocking the memories of a woman trying to make a new home.

Each level of the game is tied to a dish, and a year in the life of the family. According to Polygon's Nicole Carpenter, each dish is presented as a puzzle from the family's cookbook, which is missing pieces from ripped pages or smudged recipes. By solving the puzzles, players connect Venba with her memories of home and help to connect her family with their heritage… while making dishes that I wish I could pull out of the screenshots and eat myself.

Players explore "family, love, loss and more" and "experience a story of culture and self-discovery," according to the Steam page. I haven't played it, but the positive reviews (including Polygon's) suggest it's as lovingly crafted as the puttu and idlis it has you make, with multiple reviewers saying that it brought them to tears. 

Venba is available on Steam with a 15% discount for its release. The only gripe some user reviewers seem to have is with its length. The developers describe Venba as "a short and sweet cinematic experience that you can enjoy in a one to two hour sitting."