Games of the Year

The Vellescian Gambit

The Vellescian Gambit Screenshot 1
The Vellescian Gambit Screenshot 3
The Vellescian Gambit Screenshot 5
You are a lowly employee of a gigantic trading company, and you have a simple task. Deliver the cargo to the Neubach branch office in 23 days.

The only problems are that the roads are dangerous, your budget is limited, and you don't even know what you're carrying in the first place.

Fortunately, you're a resourceful young man. Plan, negotiate, and trade your way through the Free Cities, and you might not only finish your task, but even make a little money in the process. Fail to manage your time or budget, however, and you'll find yourself stranded in a foreign city without a penny in your name. Or even find yourself at the wrong end of a brigand's sword.

Your companions are the young accountant Emily de Vries, and the veteran mercenary captain "Lucky". Heed their advice, and they might get you out of a pickle or two.

And don't miss your deadline.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

The Vellescian Gambit is a very neat game that looks like a visual novel, but is actually more of an economics-based puzzle game embedded in a well-written but compact visual novel. I highly recommend it for those looking for a new twist on the VN genre, or games with economics or trade-related themes.
Your character is given a particular mission that needs to be accomplished with limited resources and time, and nearly every single choice has small consequences that add up and determine what happens. In this sense, it is quite different from your run-of-the-mill VNs, where the player has very limited control over what happens. You freely choose from many possible options, ranging from which routes to take and the pace of travel, how much protection to hire, and what commodities to buy and sell along the road (or whether to do any trading, as it can cost you precious time).
These choices can lead to many different outcomes, which increase the game's replay value considerably. In an effort to attain the achievements, I must have gone through the game at least 30 times (skip previously read text feature is a godsend here; use it) and in every run, I encountered different events which were triggered by slight changes in strategy. And these seem to be deterministic rather than random. Hats off to the designer for taking the time to implement so many contingencies.
There are two minigames which are optional if you just want to complete the story on normal difficulty, but become almost a necessity if you are going for the best possible ending on higher difficulties. One is a haggling minigame that you can use to buy commodities at prices lower than the hassle-free market price, and the other one is a gambling game in which you have a strategic choice on when and how much to cheat without getting caught, with some regional differences on rules and the vigilance of the dealer. These were well-designed and kept the playthroughs fresh. Both have an element of luck, however, which means achieving the best outcomes do not only depend on your choices, but also the whims of RNGesus.
The art and music are very in-sync with the overall tone of the game, consisting of early modern era oil paintings, and high quality classical compositions. My only complaint would be the fact that the background sometimes prevents seeing the paintings in whole. It looks like historical accuracy was a sticking point in design, and although the setting itself is fictional, all the prices, distances, and the economics of the world feel very natural.
Overall, I was very pleasantly surprised by this game. It is definitely shorter than your average VN, but its replayability easily makes up for it. If you like these kind of games, I highly recommend it.

Review from Steam

A visual novel that distinguishes itself with trading and resource management mechanics. The story itself is short, but achieving the perfect score would take some experimentation with the said mechanics so it is replayable in that sense. The game also makes creative use of historical art from the Netherlands which is a refreshing change of style.

Review from Steam

As far as I played, it seems to have an interesting enough setting and above average writing. There are also quite a few choices you can make thanks to the route planning decisions and trading, which is cool. A nice little palate cleanser between all the padded-out AAA games.

Review from Steam

+Pretty good artwork and soundtrack
+Nice story
+Very interesting puzzle-like gameplay
-A bit short

Review from Steam

The Vellescian Gambit offers more than you first would expect from a visual novel that interacts with the player in a familiar choose-your-own-adventure style UI.
It subtly yet effectively fleshes out all its characters and its world through clever use of fitting visuals and music and its refined writing. Almost everything that you do has a more polished and well thought out interaction or behind the scenes mechanic than you are led to believe, whether you are planing your journey, managing your budget, haggling with merchants or trying your luck in a mini dice game, so you never find yourself idly "skipping through dialogue".
Overall, a relatively short example of its genre but a well crafted, surprisingly layered and replayable one for sure that deserves your attention, and it is certainly great value for money.

Review from Steam

A refreshing addition to the visual novel genre. I was expecting very little gameplay, but it turns out to have quite a lot between all the planning, trading and haggling.
The story is pretty okay as well. There are quite a few interactions with the two main companions, and they both don't feel like caricaturized cliches, but more or less realistic, actual people. Kudos in that regard. It's a bit hard to max the relations with both companions in the first run, though.

Review from Steam

This is a short, text based immersive simulation where you lead a caravan expedition in renaissance Italy. Overall, I really enjoyed it. It has a certain austere quality that made game play and the decision making aspect direct and fun. The characters were colored in just enough that they stood out and were memorable. As it is text based I'd only recommend this for people that don't mind reading a little-that said if you like a good management sim with multiple choice outcomes and a bit of history, this is a great game. Really the only thing I didn't like was how short it was-it seemed like this ought to have just been the prologue to a much larger game. That said, at the cost of only a few dollars this game is well worth trying out.

Age Verification
To be able to see content under adult tag.