Risen: Review (Xbox 360)

by Victor ‘r0gue’ Vieira

Overview

 

Risen is an epic rpg in a medieval setting, which has you choose with whom you side as you find your way through four fantasy and mystical filled chapters. Your character is left ship-wrecked after a storm on a huge volcanic island bode in a fictional medieval world. Ancient temples on the island have risen from the ground and the power of the gods has vanished from the world. Mighty creatures made of pure magic that were kept imprisoned by the gods break out their magic prisons and to unleash their wrath upon the earth, terrorizing the population causing panic and fear. A band of warriors who call themselves “The Inquisitors” have taken it upon them-selves to protect the island’s inhabitants. Will you help these warriors defend the island and rid them of the evil creatures?


 

Risen was co-developed by Piranha Bytes and Wizardox. True fans of the rpg genre will recognize the developers- Piranha Bytes, as their roots are sunken in rpg history with the ‘Gothic’ series… The deep and rich world has been crafted with an eye for detail and populated by “real” believable characters. The storyline is ever-changing depending on the choices you make.

 

This is the latest rpg published by Deep Silver for the Xbox 360 and PC.

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Gameplay and Features

 

At the start you need to choose between two factions: the government-based cleric, with a focus on magic- and staff-based skills; or the outlaw warrior, who specializes in melee battles. The decisions you make throughout will cause minor changes to the story and surroundings, as well as triggering from a number of different endings. You find quite soon into the game that it is not linear at all, very open-ended and permissive, no ‘junior’ rpg here. I absolutely loved the lack of a definite path of morality you can take. I seemed to go from a characters friend to enemy regularly and I liked the fact that I did not have a clean-cut moral standing throughout most of the game.

 

You play in third-person view and are able to chose how close you want the camera. The presentation is neat, the Risen world is pretty from far but up close the graphics goes downhill. Character moldings are not the best, with no real crisp detailing. Trying to read descriptions, items, maps etc. had me getting up from my couch and up-close to my 37” screen, honestly. The maps are static and I did not struggle to navigate my way around using them. I needed to rely more on wandering around and finding my way which got frustrating at time. The background sound sets the medieval tone nicely and the voice work is pretty good as are the sound-effects.

I also had some issues with movement as the camera swings around way to quickly for my liking. You need to be gentle with swinging from side to side, which a clumsy ‘oaf’ like me had a hell-of-time trying to get right. I almost always have to turn the sensitivity of game-controls down because of my lack of finesse but you cannot do so with this one. Combat does not require too much input and is quite basic. It is just using the face-buttons to swing you sword of defend with it. Other weapons use other buttons and I had almost always a sword, bow and shield readily available, with the bow being the most fun for me. Fighting more than one enemy at a time was particularly aggravating, with me swinging from side-to-side with no precision. The game’s mechanics can be unintuitive and impenetrable at times making some easy tasks a chore. In the beginning with your character not being powerful yet, you loose allot of health quickly. Fortunately this gets easier as you build up your skills and power. So if even the easy battles in the beginning frustrate you, hang in there and you will find the charm.

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Like every rpg I ever played, you need to level-up Risen’s antagonist. I found the skill system overwhelming at times and very rewarding at others (like I said, no junior rpg here). It should not be that difficult for the rpg regulars though. You have to learn skills by doing various activities for characters. You have quite a few opportunities to learn in the early stages, I found it hard work to level-up my character. Once I was far in and once learnt enough skills, I did enjoy the characters abilities thoroughly and kept me wanting more and more, swapping abilities or weapons…..basically wasting away hours as I craved more, although these are fun hours indeed.

 

I have had hours and hours of fun with the quests. They are well constructed, intelligent and believable. There is the expected large amount of dialogue to listen to as with most rpg’s, and some of the character hand and arm gestures in conversations were a little odd and poor, but overall the quests you have to do and what they actually have you consider is indeed impressive. You don’t want an rpg where you aren’t really challenged with choices, so the game is very strong in this aspect. It is also a very long game, which will please some and others might get bored. I have given this around twenty hours or so and I still have lots to do. It takes awhile to get your character to a good and enjoyable skill level.

 

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Bits I liked

 

Great story line.

Medieval settings.

Cut-scenes.

Kept me coming back.

 

Bits I disliked

 

Some serious technical flaws

Controls

Where do I go now? I have a map but I can’t read it.

Help me out a little for crying out loud!

Sub-titles and descriptions are too small.

 

Conclusion

 

I think that Risen will come under serious scrutiny when the ‘other’ eagerly awaited rpg is launched, and could easily stray rpg lovers from Risen with even just a bit more of a polished end-product. I don’t know if it was developer’s port to console from pc, that caused issues, or if it was just a case of rushing it. There are definitely aspects that need to be looked at if this series is to continue on console. I suspect it might be better on pc with a keyboard and mouse for control.

 

I wrote this review frustrated as this IS a wonderful game underneath some obvious flaws. It kept me coming back for more at times, and at other times looking to invest in a punching bag. Yes, it has more issues than Lindsay Lohan, but I would be lying if I said I’m not enjoying it.

Risen is for a ‘mature’ audience. For more visit their official site.

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