87You’re a stowaway on a boat that has just been through a storm and an attack by a sea monster.  Now you find yourself washed up on a beach where ruins have recently "risen" out of the ground and caused creatures to come into existence in this land. A group called the Inquisition has come to take control over the local town, removing its Don, controlling the gold and artifacts from the ruins, and forcing anyone who opposes them to be sent to a monastery for a "mindset adjustment."  The exiled Don and some of his men now live in one of the ruins in the swamp area. The game is open world and the choices you make effect the storyline. You can help the Inquisition which leans more towards magic and combat. Alternately you can help the Don who has more of a combat and hunting approach.

Quests consist of gathering items, killing monsters collecting information, shaking down shop owners for protection money, sneaking around, stealing, and general helping out. You can also see two sides of one quest depending on who you speak to. So if you help out one person instead of the other for similar goals, you will never be able to help the other person with conflicting interests.

Action RPG
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Piranha Bites
Oct. 2, 2009

Character interactions were also enjoyable and realistic to a point. If you robbed someone right in front of them they will likely not talk to you and will remember what you did. This sometimes leads to quests that cannot be finished. Luckily though there are spells that can be cast to force someone to forget any misdeed. Pick pocketing is an enjoyable and useful technique that allows you to recover items stolen from you.  This skill has different levels and has a bit of a learning curve; once you initiate a pickpocket attempt, you only have a certain amount of time to grab what you want. Pick pocketing is also useful if you know someone stole one of your items when you were knocked out to get them back.

Risen takes place in a setting that looks very much like South America. The lighting in the game is rather dark making monitors with high contrasts or deep blacks rather hard at times to see what you’re playing unless you turn the brightness settings way up; unfortunately this washes out some of the great graphics and cinematic lighting. Some parts of the game are intentionally left dark as you need to use torches to see where you are going inside of caves or the catacombs of the ruins. The ground in the light has a lush glow and the city looks great in the moonlight. In fact I rather enjoyed the graphical style, though I wish I could have customized my look a bit more as I look like the main character of the show Prison Break with my ultra short buzz cut look.  The water was also well rendered and the thunderstorms and rain effects at night have to be the best I have seen in a game, with the whole setting going from really dark to super bright all around me when the lighting clashes. The games NPC’s were also more detailed and much easier to tell apart than similar games I have encountered.

The game leveling up is done with experience points, but other attributes like strength, dexterity, and weapon and crafting skills are gained by talking to people and asking them to train you. This, of course, will cost you a bit of gold. There are 3 types of close combat weapons such as swords, axes and blunt objects. For attacking from a distance you can use bows, crossbows or magic. Casting spells will use up Mana that needs to be replenished with potions and the like.

The game also has a cooking system in which you can take the meat off killed creatures  and cook it to regain heath or Mana. You can also obtain special recipes and collect the ingredients to make special foods. The same principles can be applied for the alchemy for potions and smith skills for making weapons and armor.

The combat for handheld weapons is done with the left mouse button for attack and the right mouse button for shielding or blocking by turning your weapon on its side. You can also parry the attack if you press the right mouse button just before the enemy is going to attack. The system for locking on enemies is automatic and very well executed. I rarely found my back turned to one enemy while fighting another. For bow attacks you go into a 3rd or first person view to fire. The closer you are to hitting the enemy’s head the more damage the enemy takes.  Casting spells can be very useful while fighting in hand to hand combat.

One thing I really liked about Risen was that the enemies don’t seem to fall into too many western RPG stereotypes—sure there were gnomes and ghouls but the majority of them seemed very fresh. The AI was also well done; even though you could figure out some of the enemy attack patterns it never seemed monotonous, always giving a good challenge as these patterns were never set in stone and could always be a bit random.

Blast Factor: Besides some slight graphical issues and lots of trouble with the game’s DRM (which they will hopefully have fixed by the time you read this) I really enjoyed the game and can’t wait to play through it again following a different storyline path.

Risen is available on the PC, and an upcoming Xbox 360 version. It retails for $49.99; a copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.

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One Response

  1. Biz

    This is a very good review. I’ve been playing Risen since it came out and my character has attained level 8, and I’ve upgraded my weapons and armor. The game story line goes linear at the beginning, but the game open up later. Then you can tho what ever you want. For me this game is far better than Oblivion.


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