Lately I’ve had the opportunity top play some great action role playing games. Dragon Age: Origins and Divinity II: Ego Draconis each provided hours upon hours of great fantasy entertainment. Well, released last October for the PC by Deep Silver and Piranha Bytes, Risen promised up to 60 hours and countless quests in a sandbox environment. Released last Tuesday was the Xbox 360 version of the game and the publisher was kind enough to provide me with both copies of the game to review for you, so I’d like to show you the differences between the two. Check out tons of blazing HD game-play footage over on my other channel, ZeitgeistOther, and make sure to follow me on Twitter to get updates on the games I’m playing all week long! So let’s not waste any more time, here’s Risen.
A dark and powerful storm is gathering and the earth is trembling around some period of medieval earth. Strange stone structures are popping up from out of the ground and monsters have begun populating the world. The game opens with a cinematic portraying you, stowed away on a ship being steered by some kind of powerful wizard when out of the water arises a huge titan. When the wizard realizes the battle is lost, he teleports out, leaving the ship to be destroyed by the titan. You awaken washed up on a mysterious island and basically have to figure out where you are and how you’re going to live the rest of your life.
The story is very involved as the island has various parties that don’t get along with each other too well. The Inquisition of Warriors has taken over the day-to-day operations of the island and it’s town, the bandits and rogues have been forced from their homes to live in a swamp, and the mages of the volcano are trying desperately to remain neutral as they continue their research as to how they are to save humanity. Which of these organizations you choose to follow will determine how the story unfolds for you, and each path is going to present a dramatically different tale.
Risen took me about 32 hours to complete on my first play-through. It actually takes quite a while to get into the real meat of the game. Not until 6 hours in did I actually get to choose which classes’ path I wanted to go down and not until 11 hours in did I finally become a mage. What’s great is that every decision you make affects how the events unfold for you and there are many different ways to accomplish every task. If you need to collect some artifacts from a guy in town, do you pick his pockets, kill him, buy the artifact, or do some tasks for him? The choice is up to you, which ultimately means you’ve got some good replayability if you want to see the various differences in the story. It’s also important to note that most of the story arks can be completed in any order you choose. To me, this is Grand Theft Auto meets Dragon Age: Origins.
This game is absolutely massive. Not only is the island huge, there are simply a ton of quests to do. About halfway through the game you’ll gain the ability to teleport to various destinations across the island which is a god send, because it takes a while to walk from one end to the other.
The class system in Risen is similar to that of Divinity II’s in that you can learn all of the skills in the game as any class. So even if you take the story path of the Warrior, you can still learn to pick pockets and shoot fireballs, except for one important difference with the Mage. The Mage has the ability to cast all spells in the game without the use of scrolls while the others can only use 3 spells without scrolls.
The combat in the game is much more involved than most action RPGs. Spells and ranged weapons must be aimed carefully, as they don’t automatically hit your target when they are fired. Melee combat also requires a lot of skill as you must learn a lot of different moves to effectively defeat your foes. Initially the game is very hard and you’ll die A LOT until you level up your skills a bit.
In addition to slaying monsters and saving the world, Risen has you exploring dangerous dungeons loaded with traps and puzzles. You’ve got to be extremely careful in these places, as traps will instantly kill you. In your free time you’ll have the ability to do lots of crafting including weapons, jewelry, potions and scrolls, and even cook your own food. Throughout your adventure, you’ll acquire a massive amount of items, but thankfully, the inventory management system is well designed.
To me, the PC version had significantly better controls than the 360 version. The 360 just felt clunky and awkward, especially when trying to view all of your quests or set up your action keys. The game also has some flaws in that it’s really easy to bug out monsters so you can chain fireballs up their ass while they just stand there. So Risen is not without it’s flaws, but all in all, the game-play was amazing and extremely addictive!
It is very clear that the PC version has amazing graphics. The character designs are a little bland and remind me a lot of Age of Conan, but the scenery is fantastic. Time is represented in the game so you’ll see day and night cycles as well as dramatic weather patterns. In fact, you’ll even see the townsfolk doing different things throughout the day, as the merchants will work during the day, clean up at dusk and drink at night. Unfortunately, the 360 version really falls short in the graphics department. While all of the great things I just mentioned exist, the graphics are significantly lower quality than the gorgeous PC counterpart. On top of that, the 360 version is sometimes bogged down with low frame rate spikes which is mind blowing considering the graphics are as low quality as they are.
A wonderful soundtrack accompanies your progress through your adventure and the voice acting is top notch, as every piece of dialog in the game is voiced, though I found myself reading the subtitles and skipping the audio because it was much faster that way. If I would have listened to all of the voice acting the game would have taken significantly longer to finish.
I think the thing that I liked the most about Risen was that fact that it’s so realistic. In most RPGs, you can just rob every house in walk into. If you steal from someone in Risen, they’ll resent you, attack you, call the guards, and basically be just hostile to you until the end of the game. If a character dies, they are dead for good, so it’s very important not to train some monsters back to your skill trainer! For the most part, Risen is a pretty hard core RPG. The PC version has significantly better graphics than the 360 version, but I still found myself addicted to both. The game-play and story are so great, and the massive amount of things to do had me unable to set the controller down and despite the graphical flaws of the 360, I still think the game is worth 50 bucks. Don’t forget to check out all of the HD game-play footage of Risen at my other channel, ZeitgeistOther, and follow me on Twitter to get daily updates on my game reviews! What do you guys think of Risen? Leave your questions and comments below!