Risen is a role-playing game for the Xbox 360 that was originally released for the PC in 2009. Developed by Deep Silver, the console version of the game was delayed in order to incorporate changes based on feedback on the original PC game. Earlier today, producers dropped by GameSpot HQ to show off the Xbox 360 version of the game for the first time, and the same open-ended, open-world design is still well intact here.
In fact, in terms of content, nothing has changed between the PC and Xbox 360 versions of Risen. Instead, producers said, the changes made to the console version have included things like better textures and lighting, the addition of brightness controls (which looks to be a welcome addition since parts of Risen seem annoyingly dark), and some control tweaks. What hasn't changed is the scale of the open-world exploration, and the similarly open-ended approach to customization and character development.
Risen's story begins when your character washes up on a beach after a nautical disaster. He then finds himself on an island that is embroiled in a power struggle between two warring factions--the bandits, who are the island's original inhabitants, and the Inquisition, a group that has come to the island to investigate the appearance of strange monsters and subsequently protect the island's inhabitants. Naturally, both of these factions have their own aims and goals, and as the hero of the story, which faction you choose to work for will have repercussions throughout the game's story.
We saw glimpses of the game's early goings; a few hours into Risen's gameplay you'll find yourself in a village known as Harbor Town. The Inquisition has gathered up the island populace into the town and sequestered them, ostensibly in the hopes of protecting them from attacking monsters. As you make your way through the town, speaking with bandit and Inquisition non-player characters along the way, you'll learn more about both factions' motivations. You can choose to work jobs for either faction, and eventually you'll be able to learn special skills. For example, if you side with the Inquisition, you'll eventually make it to the monastery, where you can receive formal training to be a warrior or a mage. If you side with the bandits, on the other hand, you'll learn new skills, such as pickpocketing.
You aren't tied to a specific character path in Risen, however. In fact, the game doesn't use traditional RPG classes. Instead, you'll receive training points as you go, which can be applied to everything from attributes like strength or dexterity, to weapon training, or even more basic skills like blacksmithing, cooking, or alchemy. The latter skills will let you make important items you can use during your adventures, such as new weapons, meals, or potions you can use to regain health, and so on.
Risen's inventory system is unconventional--there's no limit to the number of items you can carry with you. As a result, you'll probably wind up with hundreds of items in your bag, including potions, scrolls, armor, weapons, and more. That much loot might end up being an organizational nightmare, but it does offer you plenty of tactical options when it comes to combat. Before a fight begins, you hotkey certain items in your inventory to your directional pad, which you can use in combat with just a press of a button. The nuts and bolts of the game's real-time combat system are straightforward--you press the right trigger to attack and the left trigger to defend yourself.
If the PC version is anything to go by, there looks to be a lot of game content to get through in Risen. The game's open-ended format means that few areas will be off-limits to you, and the constant conflict between the two factions in the game provides an intriguing background for the game's plot to unfold in. This isn't the best-looking RPG we've ever seen--with a sometimes dodgy frame rate and occasionally wooden animations--but in this genre, it's all about creating a believable, intriguing world in which to sink in as many hours as possible. We'll find out how Risen fares on that front when the game is released on the Xbox 360 on February 23.