GAME NAME: Risen 3: Titan Lords
DEVELOPER(S): Piranha Bytes
PUBLISHER(S): Deep Silver
PLATFORM(S): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): Aug 15th, 2014
Risen 3: Titan Lords is a 60 hour long action-RPG game full of frustration, enjoyment, confusion and disappointment. Those players looking for an expansive and well-constructed world will find enough satisfaction in the exploration and surprise quests to keep pushing forward. Unfortunately, those players seeking a compelling story and thrilling battles will be left wanting.
Risen 3 follows in the long line of RPG titles from German developer Piranha Bytes and, as the name suggests, is the third in the Risen series. The basic premise is that Risen 3’s world was abandoned by its gods while in the midst of suffering from the Titan Wars when a new threat emerges from the soil. A young warrior is attacked from the shadows and deprived of his soul, where after he sets out to reclaim what he has lost and to save the world from certain destruction.
While Risen 3 might not have the most original story, it is heavily influenced by pirate culture – which seem to benefit the environments greatly. There are several islands to explore and each gives the player a lot to do. Each location feels distinct and worth exploring. Not only that, but each island is inhabited by a diverse array of creatures.
As is typical with RPG’s, not all quests are worth doing and Risen 3 is just as guilty dishing out menial tasks. Expect a lot of fetch quests, kill-specific quests or kill all monsters in an area. Fortunately, there are also a lot of brilliant surprise quests that will completely catch you off guard. These unforced encounters are the result of exploration and feel really rewarding. In fact, some of the game’s best moments come from these surprise quests which says a lot about the game’s main story.
For the most part, the people you meet act as a plot device to drive the story along. However, the pacing of the plot is way off and the voice acting at times pulls you out of Risen’s world. Many characters seem flat, and despite the main character’s attempt to come off as rugged, gritty and manly, his generic sarcastic one-liners feel so out of place it is almost comical. The conversations are diluted with lots of pointless swearing and pointless conversation pieces that lead to nowhere. This is only made bearable by the fact that none of the characters are unlikable. Bones, a druid companion you meet at the start of the game, is particularly likable and funny. In fact, it’s worth pushing through the story just to hear what’s going to come out of his mouth next.
By far the weakest aspect of Risen 3 is the combat system. The combat tries to marry stat based equipment choices with timed attack combos. The attack animations are intentionally long to discourage button mashing and each strike has to be planned perfectly. On paper, it must have seemed like a good idea, but the whole experience ends up being infuriating and imprecise. Both the light and heavy attacks are performed with an urgency seen only at government institutions. With enemies being thrown at you left and right, you are constantly going for the faster light attack. Unfortunately, you soon come to the realisation that the light attack is only slightly faster than the heavy attack, rendering it pointless. Combining this with a wonky auto lock-on, makes it nearly impossible to hit a specific enemy.
Another issue with the combat system is the rolling dodge. While rolling, you are completely invulnerable. Not only that, but rolling is significantly faster than walking. Soon you will find yourself rolling through the maps, only occasionally jabbing at enemies. Coupling this with the realisation that your AI companion often fares better that you in the face of battle, you often end up watching them solve your problems while you roll around the floor like a hedgehog.
I never had the chance to play the previous two Risen titles, so it’s impossible to compare Risen 3 to its predecessors. What I do know is that both were not particularly well received by the general public. That said, I had the advantage of going into Risen 3 with an open mind and found a diamond in the rough. Despite its apparent large size, Risen 3 comes to its own in the small moments. Risen 3 comes close to being a really good game. With a better combat system and better polished story, it might have been an excellent RPG to hold us over until The Witcher 3.