It’s a pirate’s life – again.
Piranha Bytes are back once again with the third entry in the Risen RPG series. This time, the Dark Waters have been left behind in favor of a story that begins quite unfortunately with your characters death.
Well, it actually starts with a shipwreck and your character (and his sister Patty) being stuck on an island. Then there is the death, followed by a resurrection from a handy Voodoo witchdoctor. As if that wasn’t enough to leave our nameless hero rocking in the corner of a local tavern, you are then tasked with regaining your old life, avenging your death and even saving the world. If you think that’s a lot to ask, wait until you are a couple of hours in the game and check your quest log…
Not too much has changed since the last entry in the Risen series. The game still has an enjoyable pirate theme, albeit with slightly more of a standard fantasy twist this time around. Your character is still nameless and even some of the environments look similar, which is not perhaps a good thing. Piranha Bytes have been making RPGs for a good few years now, and seem quite happy to continue with little by way of evolution. For the fans of the previous game, this is good news. But for most players who may have found Dark Waters a little tedious, this is not really the best start.
There are improvements in the game, but not all of them make the massive changes that you would expect. The combat, for example, is better with a power attack and dodge roll available from the beginning. This makes a big difference, but the combat still remains clunky and auto-lock still manages to be off more than it should.
The combat is difficult to get used to, partly because it requires a certain amount of skill and partly because it just doesn’t feel fluid enough. That being said, practice and time makes the whole process feel smoother.
The player gathers glory as they play through the game, and can use this glory to upgrade attributes and, along with quick lessons from trainers that they come across at times, improve skills and learn new ones. This method of improving the character, without leveling up or any of that nonsense, works quite well and will push the player forward in the game.
Add to this the various different crafting options within the game, which will have you scouring everything from beaches to dead bodies for components, and the magics that the player can practice, and you will find there is quite a lot to do in Risen 3 beyond the simple hack ‘n slash of combat.
Which is where we come to the missions in Risen 3. Firstly, it should be explained that the game world is quite large, consisting of various islands of different sizes. A fast travel option becomes available when the appropriate relics are found, otherwise the player will find themselves jumping in their ship to travel between islands, which can result in some interesting sea encounters with other ships or even massive monsters.
So, the missions. Players can pick up missions from almost anyone, and quite often will. There are factions to deal with, that give you missions, there are the side quests of your companions that follow you around, there are the quests given by random folk you encounter along the way, and then there are the main story missions. Luckily your quest log will track all of these missions as you gather them, but not so luckily it doesn’t track them in the most intuitive way, leaving the player quickly becoming overwhelmed with things to do. As if this wasn’t complex enough, the markers sometimes don’t indicate the right location for the mission, and often these missions will split into further missions. The mission structure and logging is a bit of a mess, to be honest. At times I felt like I was playing Two Worlds again…
But then, this does mean that there is no shortage of things to do in the game. Risen 3: Titan Lords is a big game and if you are intent on playing it through, it is going to absorb many hours of your life.
Visually, Risen 3 seems to have made some improvements over the previous game, but is still left at the lower end of the RPG graphical quality charts on Xbox360. It doesn’t look bad and has a certain amount of charm, but is surpassed by many other games and thus feels outdated. Of course, budget had a hand to play in this and Piranha Bytes should still be applauded for their modest efforts in such a large game. The voicework is similarly an improvement over the last, adding a certain amount of flavour to the world, but still manages to come up short in comparison with bigger budget games.
But these complaints are all relative. Risen 3: Titan Lords is never going to be a big hit for the publishers Deep Silver. But it does have a certain indie charm to it that will attract a certain type of RPG gamer. Whilst flawed overall, Risen 3 has ambition and as much content as you are ever likely to find in an RPG. Most importantly, it is entertaining and worth checking out.