G'Day Glitchlords, I am Isentropic, and today we must battle the forces of the underworld, to save the land, and to save our soul, because we have Risen, again, apparently for the third time. Anyway here it is Risen 3: Titan Lords.
Risen 3 is an action RPG, and as the name suggests is the third instalment in the Risen series. Published by Deep Silver and developed by German studio Piranha Bites, Risen 3 follows the tail of, ahhhhh, well, I am not sure if the protagonist has a name. Actually I am a little bit fuzzy on the story in general. Let's see, as far as I can tell the underworld is opening crystal portals all over the land and is sending out shadow minions to take over the world. Pretty, Elder Scrolls 4, if you ask me, but I am sure there are some original plot points in there somewhere.
The problem with Risen 3's story is, it is delivered through some of the worst voice acting of all time. Most of the time I felt like I was watching some sort of high school play, where the students were graded on the amount of lines they wrote, instead of how the lines were delivered. And of course, the teacher forgot to tell the students that swearing is not allowed, so they proceeded to slip it in awkwardly in most dialogues.
The RPG base of Risen 3 is pretty solid however. The game world is large with the player free to sail between six islands and explore them at will. It should be noted that enemies are not scaled to the players level, so caution is required when exploring, otherwise your death may be swift. There are hundreds of quests to be found and completed throughout the game world, but sadly many of them are buried far too deep inside pointless, poorly delivered dialogue.
The player is given some latitude when selecting responses in conversation, which is nice, but most of the time I would just chose the option with the least words in it, so I could limit my exposure to the protagonists poorly animated batman voice.
As the player defeats enemies they awarded glory, which is used to upgrade the characters eight base attributes. To further customise your character, a plethora of skills are available for learning, in classic Piranha Bites style, through skill trainers.
There are a huge amount of weapons, armour, trinkets, ingredients and general items to collect throughout the game world. And with the right skills nearly everything gathered in the wild can be put to good use in a recipe or design. Piranha Bites did a good job making a large world that feels quite alive and allows player freedom, but sadly it fails to immerse, due to an extremely clunky menu system, that must be navigated constantly to manage your characters development, quests and inventory.
Combat in Risen 3 is another miss step for this game, and is nothing to call home about. When the player is first starting out the character seems excessively slow in melee combat, with many battles leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth. Ranged combat is available with rifles and crossbows, but lacks fun, and depth. Magic is also there to use through scrolls, runes, or learnt spells, but the transition between each of the three combat types is so clunky, that I found it too difficult to switch approaches in close quarters combat.
As the character levels up and learns different techniques from skill trainers, the transitions becomes more fluid and the melee combat moves a little quicker, but even with these improvements I never felt like I was having a good time during battle or winning due to skill. Actually battles in Risen 3 generally feel clumsy and sickening. The player is forever dodge rolling to try and escape attacks while fighting the annoying camera, and when you do finally stop rolling more often than not the enemy hits you with an annoyingly quick attack or knocks you off your feet. There is a parry button included in the melee combat, but unless you have learned the appropriate skill to let you parry then attack quickly, I wouldn't recommend using it.
The player meets a good range of NPC companions to invite along on their journey, and may choose to have one of these characters with them when exploring the islands. All of the companion characters are quite useful, and having a second person in a battle is essential to stop you from getting ganked by enemy groups.
The visuals in Risen 3 are a mixed bag. The game has quite a few moments when the player gets to look over an area for the first time, which for the most part are beautiful, however general game play graphics are terrible. The characters' movements look clumsy, and are not fluid during general world navigation. Textures pop in an out of focus. Loading screens are long and far too plentiful. Collision detection during battle and general movement is woeful and screen tearing happens far too often.
On top of everything, the camera position during conversation flicks perspective too rapidly, and often sits behind walls and NPCs awkwardly obscuring the view. Also there is an overall feeling of laziness to the animations, I was surprised to find that instead of a simple animation of climbing a ladder, the game chooses to fade to black with the character appearing at the top of the ladder. I know Piranha Bites was aiming for a more "old school" feeling RPG with Risen 3, but with this laundry list of visual blunders the game just feels poorly made and dated instead.
The music of Risen 3 is average on the whole without any real memorable scores. It doesn't feel poorly timed and is matched adequately to the pace of the situation, but I can't really recall any of the tunes other than the opening screen. Ahhh, that opening screen. I am torn about my opinion of Risen 3's start menu screen, on the one hand, it gave me an instant flash of Game of Thrones, a series I enjoy, I just can't decide whether that’s a good thing, or plagiarising.
All in all, anyone looking to play Risen 3 should set their expectations low, to try and minimise their disappointment. The trailers, and game play videos are not a true representation of the final game. What the player gets instead is an all too familiar story given through bad dialogue, a boring and annoying combat system, a dated looking world that fails to immerse and music that doesn't cut the mustard. The basic RPG elements are all there and function well, but for me the tough decision of this game is whether to persevere, just to scratch that questing itch.
This game is not worth the money in my opinion and has earned 3.5 out of 10 from me.
Available on PC, Xbox 360 & PS3