When I first learned about Risen I had hopes it might prove to be a stellar role playing game that could match the outstanding gameplay and immersive world of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. When the game was finally released I ran out to snatch up a copy for myself. My hopes were dashed shortly after playing through the first level. Your character is the marooned survivor from a deadly shipwreck, washed ashore on an island ruled by an iron fisted despot, who you are tasked with bringing down. Ok, I'm down with that. I enjoy sticking it to the man as much as anyone, but things went downhill fast from there.
Where Oblivion offered an engrossing storyline and with challenging and adventurous quests, Risen delivered mind numbingly dull quests and tired combat. Your quests involve such mundane tasks as delivering letters, locating objects, transporting items from one village to another. Seriously, I'm delivering parcels? I came here to play an adventure game, not work for UPS.
Even the characters failed to spark my interest. Normally you attempt to speak with new characters as you encounter them in an adventure. An act you soon regret as they drone on endlessly about various subjects that may contain information pertinent to the game's overall storyline, were I note lulled to sleep. Boring.
Combat is another of this game's weaker points. Unpredictable to say the least. Each creature I engaged in combat received damage in illogical ways. It dealt several, what should be, lethal blows a crazy Ostrich-looking creature with the head of a demonic dragon, and it continued to take my abuse as if I were throwing spit wads at it. Alternatively the next creature of the same species fell over dead after just two hits. Alternatively creatures inflicted inordinate amounts of damage to me after just one hit. Even after up-armoring myself I felt oddly weak and helpless in this game as I progressed through each level.
That's not to say Risen is all bad, in fact some may actually like this game. Its voice acting is quite solid. Not just well done, but with a level of detail and emotion that draws you into the story – presuming you can remain awake from all the boring questing to actually engage in dialog.
Another plus to this game is its endless number of choices to that effect the outcome of the game. Even ethical choices and decisions that will determine what happens to you in the game – some good life lesson for younger players they help connect actions with outcomes.
Visually, the game looks great. Environments are richly detailed with vibrant colors and textures to that make everything pop. It's by no means the best looking game among the role players, but it does offer lots of eye candy and visual effects to keep you satisfied.
In all Risen is a fairly decent game, and much of my complaints have more to do with personal taste than any damning quality or lack thereof to this game. Aside from a potentially buggy combat system, I can't really fault it for what it is – a decent rpg. Only just.
To learn more about Risen, visit Deep Silver Studio's website.