Saturday, April 30, 2011

Risen Review

Platform: PC
Genre: RPG

After losing the Gothic franchise to JoWood, Pyranha Bytes had to start work on a new project and started making what they know best .. an open world RPG (Baku:exactly like every other RPG they've ever made). And so Risen made it's way to our hard-drives and consoles. Set in a new world, with a new Nameless Hero the story starts on a ship which is under attack from ... something. You play as one of the survivors, washed up on the shores of a near island. From there on it's up to you ... to save the world obviously.

They seem to have used the same engine (a bit more polished, and it runs much smoother) like Gothic 3 only the island is set in a more tropical environment with thick forests you wouldn't go into. The land is run by three factions and you can choose to join one of them each coming with their pros and cons. You will be welcomed by the monastery for some brain-washing (or so they say ... didn't quite play it the monastery way) and some weed-smuggling, by the Town to keep order or by Don Esteban to retake the town for him. It doesn't quite matter which one you help ... cause, apart for some quests the outcome of it is the same. It is a bit funny how these three factions seem copy/pasted from Gothic 2 ... and maybe Gothic 1 (seeing how one of them lives in the swamp). That might be the major flaw with Risen after all ... it feels too much like the Gothic series ... in many ways ...(Baku: maybe too many ways)

The island is much smaller then many of the lands Piranha Bytes has thrown at us ... or at least that's how it felt to me. But despite its size, it's filled with stuff to explore. Caves, ancient structures (some are explorable only after certain quests ...), mountains to climb or levitate from one to another and treasures to dig. About the levitate part I have to mention a big FAIL (not relevant to the review). I went through a cave and reached an exit on the top of a mountain. I could see a heap of gold, a sword and some other things on another mountain. I checked my inventory and saw that I only have 1 levitation spell. I decided to use it to get on the other side see what's there and if it was worth it I'd reload, buy another scroll and come back. Of course the sword was a bit better then mine so I did all mentioned above. Half an hour later with the sword in my hands I levitated back and continued my adventure. Then I realized the painful truth. I could've just teleported from there. Major fail.

Ok, back to the game ... and to the teleporters ... once you get at a certain chapter, some *spoiler* will spawn all over the land and some of them will be carrying teleporter stones. Yes we saw them till now. The thing is .. that there are too many in my opinion. You will get a teleporter stone for almost every road junction there is. Until your first teleport you will have to walk. The view is nice and the things that want to bite your head off are deadly. The fighting system has improved a lot since Gothic 3. At points it might be the same button-mashing ... until your first human opponent. There I learned to block and believe me it is very useful. Also at first you only have a 3-hit max combo (or something of the sort) but if you level up a type of weapon (the one you will use most of the game of course) you will unlock longer combos and special attacks or the ability to wield two-handers with one-hand.

Well, in the end I'll have to say that Risen is a pretty solid RPG that every fan of the genre should play. Although it resembles some of the developers last games in some ways, it still has a unique feeling, great graphics, a awesome atmosphere, some good characters and that feeling of loneliness and fear to go into a forest at night we missed.

Baku: As you can probably guess I'm not really a fan of the Gothic franchise but I did play Risen and while I did finish it I wasn't particularly impressed by any of it.

the bad: few characters to remember, final "boss fight" 
the good: a solid Piranha Bytes RPG, that brings back that Gothic feeling under a new name

*I will post screenshots late ... you can find them all on our Facebook page

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