Velvet Assasin Review (PC)
A good game for those who like the genre, it's also an interesting take on WWII not often seen in games or any other media.
Posted by Alex V (SpectralShock) on Aug 2, 2009 - 3:53pm EST (Aug 2, 2009 15:53)
Velvet Assassin is a stealth action video game that was released in April 2009. The game is inspired by a real life World War II secret agent/saboteur Violette Szabo. Players take on the role of Violette Summer, as she goes behind enemy lines to thwart the German war machine and eliminate various murderers and commanders. It was developed by Replay Studios and Southpeak Games, both being lower-budget studios. So for some, the game will definitely seem to be lacking polish and perfection that comes with big game studios. However, it’s also much better than to be called a “small budget production”. For those looking for stealth gameplay, and even some action, this is definitely a game worth looking into.
As mentioned earlier, the story of the game is loosely based on the chronicles of a real WWII assassin, Violette Szabo. If you wish to do some research while playing the game, you will find that the devs did put an effort into recreating some of her personality and looks, but of course a lot of the facts are missing and had to be creatively filled. The story told in the game is done so via flashbacks. At present, Violette is lying in a hospital bed while two mysterious men decide her faith across the room. She can hear what they are saying, but is powerless to do anything. They are not German though, so she feels no immediate threat. Violette then falls into one of her memories about a particular mission, and that’s where the gameplay begins. You play as Violette, carrying out her various missions as she remembers them. Each mission consists of a few chapters, and overall the game lasts a good 7 or more hours, depending on how much you wish to explore. There isn’t much to explore though, as the game is very much linear. You are often tasked with doing some side-tracking before progressing, but overall it’s a straight path to the end target. You will navigate many various underground bunkers, but there are plenty outdoor missions as well. The overall story is actually quite well done, and not as cliché as some may expect. Most of Velvet Assassin is a disturbing look at the events of WWII, not often seen in games, especially in the non-FPS genre.
The gamepaly shares many similarities with Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Thief, and the Hitman series, all kind of mixed together. Being an assassin means you will spend much of the game waiting in the shadows, plotting the enemy’s patrols and striking when it is safe to do so. There are no gameplay innovations here, but what mechanics are there, work ok for the most part. You start out each mission equipped with your trusty dagger and sometimes a pistol with 7 shots. From there, it’s up to you to decide how to get past the bad guys. For the majority of the time, it’s the safest to take out the enemies one by one, rather than try to sneak by without killing anyone. The kill animations do really stand-out, there is a lot of them and they are all creatively violent and satisfying kills. Violette can then drag the bodies into the shadows and away from patrols, though that’s optional. Leaving a body for a guard to find will cause him to bend over and investigate the cause of death, giving you a chance to take him out as well. Violette can also whistle, which will cause any guards within earshot to come and look around the area. If they fail to find you, they return to their patrol path or stationary position. All of these elements are pretty standard. The most important element in sneaking games, the light system, is done moderately well. During the underground sections, the light plays a big role in your survival and enemy alertness level. If they see a part of you, they will come to investigate. If you appear fully lit though, they will just start unloading bullets. The light is often sharp and shows clearly when the darkness ends. Another indication of being hidden is Violette’s icon being highlighted in purple. That same icon will have no outline if you are in the light, and will glow red if an enemy spotted you. Oftentimes, when you encounter a new area with enemies, a couple of them will go through a short conversation before begging their patrols. This gives you the chance to take out a guard that’s not involved in the convo, or to kill some lights in the area. Their chat is translated at the bottom of the screen, and you get some insight into the enemy’s state of mind.