10-16-2009, 10:26 PM
Risen (PC)

Wanted to give my thoughts on the game.

First and foremost, this game is a PC game at heart. So much so that they released it initially for PC instead of holding it back months while the console versions racked up sales. I appreciate that. And it should come as no surprise from long-time PC RPG devs Pirahna Bytes. Who are they? A German dev team known primarily for their series of Gothica games. Having played none of them (despite owning GI+II) Risen was my first foray into the werk of German RPG devs.

Here go some thoughts and impressions.


Atmosphere. Right off, the game establishes how little it wants to resemble anything cinematic. There is no opening movie. No opening cutscene. Your anonymous avatar stands amidst a vicious storm on a battered beach surrounded by the splintered remnants of a ship. Bodies are strewn upon the sand alongside whatever valuables washed ashore. And ahead lies the thickest blanket of jungle green you've ever seen. So right off the bat, I loved this game's atmosphere. Awesome job setting the tone, despite the absence of the obligatory cutscene. The island is huge, gorgeously green, and not your typical fantasy setting. Expect more in the way of tropical sights instead of forests and castles. If you've ever played Chrono Cross it's similar to that setting.

Settlements feel alive with residents going about their daily business regardless of your passing. Not quite on the level of Oblivion's radiant AI mind you, but quite enough to immerse. Generally, they will notice if you've entered their homes unannounced and will attack or summon guards (to kill you) if you steal or hurt them.

Items. Imo, any worthwhile RPG needs a lot of items. Risen contains a wealth of them from potions to mussels which can be pried open for precious pearls. There's a lot of variety. And since alchemy is a concern, plenty of plants grow along the roads. A big plus is that most of these plants restore HP and mana on their own so you're never short on supplies if you keep an eye out. You can also kill and cook up some animal meat for a bit of health or complex meals with enhanced effects provided you have the ingredients and skill. Choices are awesome.

Story. I haven't finished the game, but the story is getting quite interesting. While ymmv on the finer points of narrative, it is at the very least a well constructed tale (if impersonal on the part of the player's avatar). The most I'll say is that two factions struggle for control of the island. You'll have to join either the no nonsense Inquisition or the seedy forces of the Don. Of course it's never that simple...

Voice Acting. Not bad at all. Quite able. There are some minor inconsistencies where the spoken word doesn't match the subtitles, but these are minor instances which don't hurt the game.


Difficulty. It's not friendly to the average player. Basically, if you think fights in Final Fantasy or Mass Effect were difficult prepare a rage grenade for Risen.

Combat. It's fairly weak. It is by no means "bad", but there is no real depth here. You approach and automatically lock-on to an enemy. Fight starts. Perform a combo string based on your sword skill. Block or dodge and repeat. Not bad, but not progressive. I suspect you have to improve your melee skills a lot to improve combat. Frankly, you shouldn't have to for combat to be baseline interesting.

Groups of enemies are REALLY HARD to beat. And it's here where the combat system shows gross inadequacy. Moving amongst groups of enemies causes the camera to lock on to...I dunno, the closest foe? So by default the camera constantly fights with you for control. The result is constant backpedaling on your part to fight the enemy you want instead of foolishly exposing your vulnerable backside like a randy whore. Fortunately, auto lock can be turned off.

By contrast I like that by default you knock your human enemies unconscious. Only after their life bar falls and their body lies supine can you choose to finish them. But you don't need to. You can loot them just fine while they're out and they usually won't attack you when they rise having learned their lesson. But watch out. Lose, and they can do the same to you, including the looting.

Leveling. It takes some getting used to. As with any RPG you kill enemies/complete quests to earn XP and gain levels like normal. But what levels get you are "learning points" to be spent on specific skills. But you can't spend them on your own. You must seek out a trainer to "train" you or allow you to use the points you earned leveling up. This training doesn't come free. Ain't that a kick in the balls?

Magic. This is more a personal bias. While I've been playing the game for a solid 15 hours so far, I've only just been able to access magic. Why? Because it's story oriented. What's worse is that it requires you to pick a particular side. As far as I know, you cannot learn magic when siding with the Don. This bugs the hell out of me because it's such a huge decision to tie to a plot point. That's like saying I can only have a beard if I join the Subway sandwich club. Why can't I grow one on my own and have spaghetti? So fair warning, if you play mage classes as I do, you must join the Inquisition.

Despite the bad, I've enjoyed Risen so far. I think it's a pretty solid game with a few bad spots and a few poor decisions. But nothing here renders the game unpalatable imo. If you're of the same mind, it will be easier to forgive what doesn't work and enjoy what does.

Edit: Shit is long. :-X

10-17-2009, 07:29 AM
Urgh, I'm still waiting for this game to arrive. The games been refused classification here (really) and Play-Asia seems to be the only only source willing to ship to Australia. Unfortunately, when Play-Asia listed the PC ship date as "October" it looks like they meant "whenever the fuck in October we feel like".

I'm really looking forward to this though. I loved the first two Gothic games, and this game is supposedly pretty much exactly the same sans better graphics. Based on your description of the factions and combat system, this seems to be an accurate assessment.

10-18-2009, 12:23 AM
That sucks.

The ban makes the objectionable content sound more lurid than it actually is. Aside from the few relaxed fellows smoking a bit of "bugleweed" and the one prostitute you're allowed to bed once, it's pretty tame. I was actually a little disappointed. I expected a town made entirely of tits and crystal meth.

10-18-2009, 05:38 AM
I don't think the prostitution was the issue; there have been plenty of games with that sort of thing released here in the past. Apparently it was because the first time you smoke bugleweed you get a EXP boost or something, and any game that provides tangible benefits for drug use gets banned here. Similarly, the first two Gothic games weren't banned here for drug use, because they didn't provide any incentive for using them.

It's all pretty silly, really.

11-09-2009, 05:28 AM
I beat this about a week ago. And while I enjoyed it, I don't foresee a replay anytime soon. The ending and boss disappointed a bit. So, I've moved on to Dragon Age.

11-09-2009, 11:20 AM
I'm about 15 hours in. Chapter 1 and 2 were fantastic, but Chapter 3 has been a drag. So far it's been one huge, poorly designed dungeon filled with enemies I've already killed to... death.