LT Panel
RT Panel
Just Visiting
Wednesday | October 17, 2018
Popular Review Links:
Velvet Assassin (PC)

Velvet Assassin (PC)


Released recently on Steam is a little unknown game from developer Replay Studios. Imagine a WWII ‘stealth-like’ mixture of Thief and Splinter Cell without a massive budget then you get the basic overview of the game.

You take control of Violette Summer, a British secret agent decorated for services rendered during the war – her story is told in the form of flashbacks which are presented in a very stylish manner. The game starts with Violette badly injured and trying to recover in a distant French hospital. She lies in a coma remembering many of her previous duties which involved performing all manner of stealth missions to take out german officers or installations.

The briefings for the missions are detailed in storyboard style overviews which are effective enough to get you psyched up for the action ahead. The overall story isn’t wonderful but I tend to be forgiving in that I don’t need explanations on absolutely everything. It could be said that until the very end of the game the backstory isn’t fully fleshed out, however I find that concept always works for me … less is more, right?

The main focus of the game is based around Stealth as you sneak into various buildings and locations to achieve your given goal. The interface is reasonably detailed to aid you with the stealth elements of the gameplay and in the lower left of the screen is an outline of Violette which changes to purple if she is obscured from view. While hidden she can crouch in the shadows behind enemy soldiers to perform quick kills – the screen turns red when she is in the right position for these quick death sequences. These range from her slitting throats, slicing their tendons or repeatedly stabbing them until they die. Graphic but effective.

Obviously after killing a guard their dead body is a giveaway that an intruder is in the area so it is wise to drag the corpse to a badly lit area of the environment. On another note, there is a certain tactic possible if another guard is in the vicinity to distract him with the dead body while sneaking up behind him for another quick kill. Anyone who has played Thief or Splinter Cell will be well versed in these devious mechanics. To keep you on your toes, the AI of the enemy soldiers isn’t bad as they will hear any noises from accidentally walking on glass for instance and search for the intruder for a certain period of time before giving up. They can use torches as well to peer into dark corners so careful positioning is very important if you want to succeed. To help you on your quests you have various tricks up your sleeve, such as being able to whistle to distract guards and breaking fuseboxes to cast specific areas into total darkness. If your cover is blown then you can be assured of a chase to the death unless you can manage to hide in the shadows or a locker.

While today we are reviewing the PC version of the game I did manage to get some time with the Xbox 360 code and there is an element of the stealth system which I feel that works much better on the PC. Sometimes on the console version you sneak up behind a guard to perform a death kill only to be a few inches to either side and for the sequence not to work at all. This means the guard can move and notice you which almost certainly means death. This problem doesn’t seem so bad on the PC and although it still occurs from time to time, generally I had no issues sneaking up behind the guards and performing death kills on a regular basis. While the game is being classed as a “port” I noticed some tweaks to the code which seem to indicate that the PC version has received a little more attention to detail.

In regards to other stealth games such as Thief which normally had multiple routes to achieve specific goals, Velvet Assassin suffers in that there is only ever one path to objectives, this obviously results in a somewhat linear experience. Also another little niggling issue is that you can’t achieve a no kills mission because quite often some of the keys to specific doors are being held by guards and you can’t pickpocket to get them, they can only be acquired by killing them. If I was playing devils advocate this is not helped by the fact that you can’t for some reason pick up weapons from fallen guards and the only guns you can use are those which are found in lockers on some of the levels. Combine this with the fact that Violette doesn’t hold onto her equipment for the following missions and its a little frustrating. It feels as if the developers have not adhered to a given set of rules between various mechanics in the game and it doesn’t gel well for me in an overall scheme.

Taking out the guards with a pistol can sometimes be an issue as they can quite often take 2 or 3 body hits before falling down. Getting a near perfect head shot will take them down instantly but it is easier said than done especially from a distance, once again however the PC version has the edge here as you are not forced to use a clumsy gamepad. Additionally Violette has access to a morphine needle which when injected puts her into a dream like state which strangely enough places her into skimpy nightwear and allows her to kill a single enemy while time is frozen! I really can’t explain this sequence because it is as weird as it sounds and makes very little sense. We can perhaps assume that Violette in some surreal manner is taking over her own flashbacks and controlling her actions?

This unfortunately can mean that it is possible to overuse morphine on some levels and take out guards one by one while finding the next stash, and there is quite often 5 or 6 doses available throughout the specific environments.

While I am aware that this game will not appeal to a large audience I enjoyed many of the levels and some of them took me back to my long nights of playing Thief into the early hours of the morning. Sadly however there are a few overlooked issues which somewhat ruin the experience. When Violette crouches and sneaks behind guards, her pace is exactly the same as the guards who are strolling on their given paths. This might not sound like a major drawback but it frequently becomes an issue as it is impossible to catch them for the quick kill and you can often run into another guard coming the other way who will start chasing.

Thankfully to counter this a little the developers have implemented a leveling up system which allows you to boost Violettes statistics. This means that after 1000 points you can increase her sneaking speed, the duration of the morphine shots as well as other attributes such as health. Sadly, even with augmented speed Violette can not match some of the guards patrolling movements so it is a cat and mouse game to document their walking paths and then find the best places to lie in wait for the perfect moment for a kill.

To further enhance the game there are various disguises available which allow you to quite often roam amongst the hostiles without being spotted as an assassin. This is a great idea but it is ruined by the fact that she can’t sneak around due to the boots you wear making more noise. Also if you get even remotely close to a guard they can immediately tell you aren’t german and will attack, which is bizarre to say the least. During my time testing the game I only used the uniform option a few times in heavily guarded wide open areas to get into more secure environments because the cons outweigh the pros.

Graphically the game uses very impressive lighting to create atmosphere and the textures are for the most part well done. The animations however let the appearance down a little and while its not enough to ruin the atmosphere there are times when Violette will make a rather unusual movement which doesn’t look realistic at all. The Nazi soldiers are a little disappointing in that there are only a few models to create the whole platoon of enemy so you will see the same people over and over again throughout all the missions.

On a performance level the game ran very well with all the settings maxed at 1920×1200 with an entry level quad core Intel CPU and 2 GB of ram on Vista with a 260 GTX. I didn’t get the chance to test it on ATI but I hear from a few colleagues that there are no major graphical issues to ruin the game.

The sound is the star of the show and some of the voice acting is brilliant with the german soldiers sounding very realistic with the clever use of dialogue and “real time” conversations adding a level of immersiveness into the experience. There are key sections of musical underscoring which heighten moments of tension to create some excellent dynamics.

Velvet Assassin will not be for a wide audience but for those of you who got enjoyment from Thief there is something to be taken from this game. It is certainly not perfect, nor is it the best implementation of a stealth PC game but I have to say I really enjoyed my time playing it over the last week. While many of the critics have slated this game for being a waste of time I would have to argue that some of the game elements are really very enjoyable which in 2009 is turning into a rare experience.



Some issues but the core elements are fine and work reasonably well.
Some decent environmental lighting and detail.
Nice musical underscores and witty and well voiced dialogue.
Quite linear and i am not sure there is much replay at all.

Stealth fans should check it out when it drops in price. Otherwise, proceed with caution.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

It appears you have AdBlocking activated

Unfortunately AdBlockers interfere with the shopping cart process

To continue with the payment process can we ask you to

deactivate your AdBlocking plugin

or to whitelist this site. Then refresh the page

We thank you for your understanding

Hardwareheaven respect you right to employ plugins such as AdBlocker.
We would however ask you to consider whitelisting this site
We do not allow intrusive advertising and all our sponsors supply items
relevant to the content on the site.

Hardwareheaven Webmaster