Casanova: The Duel of the Black Rose

8_1As the name of this action adventure implies, Casanova: The Duel of the Black Rose lets you play a lady-charming, swashbuckling caricature of an 18th Century Italian guy from Venice. The story, while okay, can drag along at the pace of a snail. Basically, fierce Mongol pirates attack the handsome Giacomo Casanova’s ship, killing his mother. He fortunately manages to reach Venice alive and ends up in good health soon enough, vowing for revenge and the heads of the pirates. Rumor has it that they’ll attack the town next, and you have to put a stop to it.

Although shaken by this personal tragedy, the daring Casanova is still in high enough spirits to court many of the attractive Venetian skirts everywhere. To be fair, he doesn’t have much choice in the matter, since the local tradition has you impressing some of the lady judges by competing in the Venetian Games. Overall gameplay is a blend of talking (there’s a ton of dialogue and many characters), some action and a few simple puzzles and key hunts.

The acting could have been much better but fare well enough here, even if the story isn’t quite interesting enough to follow closely. It’s still fun listening to Giacomo try to woo the many ladies standing around Venice. There are, in fact, several ways that you can approach them; based on their attitude, Giacomo can select a Tender, Cynical, Lewd or Passionate response. The writing, while occasionally silly, is quite entertaining to listen to.

The action portion of the game has to do with swordfighting and it’s not that engaging. This partly has to do with the overall sloppy control schemes, which can’t begin to help the game. Fighting with your rapier is a simple matter of lounging towards your opponent, and counteracting his blows by parrying at the correct time. The terrible animation makes the whole endeavor rather embarrassing to behold, and is also terrible at providing useful feedback – simply tapping the attack and parry keys randomly yields better results. Other action sequences include a small range of minigames such as shooting at targets with your crossbow – a weapon which is even harder to use than the rapier, believe it or not.

Casanova is very odd and quite often poorly designed. The action sequences are annoying obstacles that get in the way of the exploration and dialogue, arguably the better points of this game.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win2000

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