Gameplay Preview Video:
Trailer Discussion Video:
Back in early 2010 I reviewed Risen on both the PC and the Xbox 360. The 360 version wasn’t really all that great as it had washed-out visuals and a clunky user interface, but the PC version blew me away – I absolutely loved it! I got a chance to sit down with the developers at GDC in March of 2011 to get a first look at the upcoming sequel, Risen 2 and instantly fell in love with the new Pirate and Voodoo game-play elements and refined look and feel. Now, I’ve spent the past few days playing through an early preview build of the PC version of Risen 2 and I had a blast. The preview ended with a huge cliffhanger right before a major boss battle, so I’m now really excited for the full game to be released at the end of April.
It’s important to point out that the preview build that I played is likely not representative of the final product to be released at the end of April. Also, I was not allowed to capture my own footage, so what I’m showing in the video is a bunch of stock footage provided by the publisher. I’ll try my best to find clips that match what I’m talking about, but even the footage I was provided is not representative of the things I saw and experienced in my play through.
Risen 2 takes place several years following the events of the first game. My preview build provided absolutely nothing in terms of catch-up for new players, so if after watching this you think you’re interested in playing the game and didn’t play the first, you might want to do some research to see what went down. The game opens in the city of Caldera where you, the same protagonist from the first game and now a member of the Inquisition, are found drowning your life away with rum due to the terrible visions of your past or something. The world is still in shambles as Titans are threatening to destroy everything. Rumor has it that some pirates of the southern islands have discovered a weapon capable of killing these Titans, so you’re sent undercover to gain the trust of these savages and return with the weapon.
Like the previous game, the decisions that you make along your adventure will determine how the game is going to play out for you. Will you side with the pirates? Will you request the aid of the Inquisition to help you on your adventure, or will you join the ranks of the Island Natives to learn of their powerful voodoo magic? Every action has a reaction. If you steal from someone, they aren’t going to forget about it and will likely be hostile to you for the remainder of the game. That is of course, unless you’ve leveled up some skills in thievery, allowing you to sneak around, pick pockets and unlock doors and chests without being detected.
You can build your character to your liking, placing emphasis into Blades, Firearms, Toughness, Cunning and Voodoo. Glory, or experience is earned from killing monsters and completing objectives, which is then used to level up these generic categories. Gold is spent at trainers to unlock new skills within these categories once you’ve leveled them up enough. It’s important to note though that monsters don’t respawn, so there is going to be a limited amount of experience that you can obtain so you won’t be able to max out all of these categories. This certainly allows for some replayability though.
The PC version has all of the good graphical options like AA, AF, Depth of Field, Reflections, Shadows, Water, Texture, Shader and Distance settings. There is even built-in support for a game-pad if you so desire.
To me though, beyond the game-play, what makes Risen games great is the presentation. The soundtrack rocks from the very beginning, quality actors voice the dialog and the visuals are simply stunning. I thought Risen looked amazing and this sequel takes it to the next level with the lush tropical forests and the great attention to details. Being a preview build, the game still lacked some polish though. I felt like some audio cross fades were needed here and there and to me, something seemed a bit off with the camera during certain dialog sequences. Overall though, I really enjoyed the graphics and artistic direction – it felt like a cross between realism and a cartoon.
The menu system and user interface have been completely redesigned. The menus worked great for the PC and at least LOOK like they should work nicely for the console versions as well. They were very clean and easy to use with a mouse. I want to point out though that the UI you see in this preview footage is different than what was in my build. I had a standard array of 10 buttons in a bar along the bottom of the screen to hold my abilities. The only other things on the UI are a health bar and a compass. There is no mini-map to help you explore and until you purchase or find a map of the area, you have no other way to get yourself around. As new areas are discovered though, you can fast travel with a click of the button.
Like Risen the combat is very difficult, so save often. You can weave together a variety of attacks including Swordplay with blocks, parrys and kicks, with ranged attacks such as pistols, shotguns and spears. You can even utilize Dirty Tricks like throwing coconuts at the enemies to attempt to knock them out or by throwing sand in their face to blind them. I want to point out though that this is NOT a button masher – it takes clever usage and timing of your abilities to take down foes while reducing incoming damage. A player’s skill absolutely is going to come into play in Risen 2
Near the end of my build, I got to tinker around with the voodoo mechanics a little bit. From what I picked up, there are various schools of magic that can be used to control enemies, weaken them and I believe even damage them. This is done through the use of consumable voodoo dolls that you have to create yourself, and scepters that shoot spells. Unfortunately I can’t expand much more on this topic though as the game ended almost immediately after I learned some magic.
I spent 11 hours on the preview build of Risen 2 and I’m told that is only the first quarter of the game. Much more time could have been spent exploring and looking for additional side quests in this beautiful and highly detailed world. It looks like eventually your character will even get his own ship and crew that will allow him to jump between the game’s various islands making it a nice sandbox game-world. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the full game to be released in April!
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: April 27, 2012
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**This preview build was provided to me free of charge from the publisher to review for you.