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Risen 3: Titan Lords Review

  • First Released Aug 12, 2014
  • Reviewed Aug 12, 2014
  • PC
Jeremy Jayne on Google+

A pirate's life for me.

Risen 3: Titan Lords, like its two predecessors, is not the kind of role-playing game typically considered to be a worthy one should you apply certain objective measures. Its cliched fantasy-pirate story trades in the usual tropes, featuring voodoo priestesses, busty bar wenches, and foul-mouthed seafarers seeking a swig of rum. Its exploitable combat takes the sting out of victory, keeping late-game combat from being much more than a minor time-waster. Each game system has an annoying flaw or three of some manner or another; lines of dialogue appear in nonsensical order, execution moves are accompanied by nauseating camera contortions, and you might suddenly have a new weapon equipped after a loading screen.

What Risen 3 has that will keep you pressing forward is a sense of grand adventure, directing you from one island to the next while you seek to unite your body with your missing soul after your death and resurrection. During your travels, you parley with ghosts, many of which have the sour attitude you might expect from a spirit forced into a partnership with a mere mortal. You morph into a colorful parrot and float to otherwise impassable ground, you train a monkey to steal gold and grog, and you choose which of several powerful factions to align with. These are the same islands you explored in Risen 2, but they have been refreshed and redesigned, making Risen 3 more than just "Risen 2.5," though the thematic gap between the second and third games in the series is not nearly as great as that between the first two.

A minimap? Hooray!
A minimap? Hooray!

Once you complete the tutorial, you gain access to most of Risen 3's fictional Caribbean-inspired map, and move from one island to the next via your modest sloop, which is later replaced by a more ornate vessel with its own crew. Along the way, you meet a number of friends who may accompany you on your journey, including returning sword-wielding bombshell Patty, who is your sister in this scenario. Patty is not the most interesting of these companions, one of whom can fight at your side at any given time. The assortment of comrades includes a ghostly pirate and a voodoo practitioner who's handy with a shotgun and shockingly good at handling his liquor. My favorite companion, however, was Bones, a druid with a phlegmy voice and a comedic form of bloodlust. (His constant warcry--"I'm going to make a hat out of your skin!"--did wear thin, however, particularly when facing enemies that had no actual skin. That skeleton has no flesh, Bones!)

Bones, like the other companions, disappeared once or twice for no apparent reason, most often on the endgame island, where I sorely needed his assistance. (One of many bugs that make you wish Risen 3's nuts and bolts had been fully tightened.) And a shotgunner aside, most of your sidekicks are functionally the same, so don't expect them to exercise a wide diversity of skills. Luckily, you gain access to a variety of different powers of your own. It's easy to stick to the skills that enhance swordplay, given how vital close-quarters combat is during the early game. In time, however, you will be summoning hellhounds to your side and flinging ice shards at golems if you so choose.

No Caption Provided
The islands offer a good amount of scenic variety.
The islands offer a good amount of scenic variety.

Deciding which customization paths to travel isn't as simple as selecting possibilities from a skill tree. As with previous Risen games, you must first spend glory (that is, skill points) in order to meet a proper numerical threshold, and then purchase related skills from a trainer. Furthermore, not every kind of trainer is available on every island, so it takes time and money to gain access to the most interesting skills, which can take a dozen or more hours. If you fancy a bit of necromancy or crystal magic, it takes time to make those powers part of your standard repertoire. Luckily, voodoo dolls and spell scrolls let you conjure the elements before you reach that point.

It's a solid leveling system that subverts the economy in interesting ways, forcing you into meaningful choices in the service of your chosen play style. By the end of the game, I had put aside fencing weapons and picked up a supernatural orb that spewed forth waves of magic, a fine weapon when standing toe to toe with a demonic soul eater and its shambling minions. Sadly, those decisions are diminished somewhat by the combat itself, which is far more fluid than it was in previous Risen games, but is too easy to exploit. When the gods of battle smile on you from above, there is a nonetheless a flow to battle missing from the previous games; no longer does a single sand devil mean likely death on the very first beach you comb, now that you can dodge and block--two options that were absent when Risen 2 was released (though later patched in.) It's the possibility of facing intriguing new creatures that keeps combat from losing its luster entirely; giant crabs and claw monkeys give way to glowering dark spirits, charging artiodactyls, and growling gorillas.

What Risen 3 has that will keep you pressing forward is a sense of grand adventure, directing you from one lush island to the next while you seek to unite your body with your missing soul after your death and resurrection.

The combat system's very mechanics undermine themselves, unfortunately. The dodge becomes your "get out of jail free" card: you can repeat the move ad nauseum, avoiding damage even if you're simply doing somersaults against a wall. Your proximity to your enemy has too little bearing on the outcome of battle. Aggressive pirates can cross an improbable distance with a single swing, yet avoid your blade's anger should they activate a dodge animation, even if the dodge doesn't successfully remove them from harm's obvious reach. It was hard not to roll my eyes during certain combat scenarios--scenarios in which I could slash away at a giant troll from a ledge above without suffering any ill consequences, scenarios in which I fearlessly tumbled around like a single sock in a rotating clothes dryer. In time, I won most battles easily, and the great supply of available provisions ensured I was always healthy. In Risen, combat was frustrating, but at least every encounter was an event; in Risen 3, combat is rarely more than a mild entertainment.

That isn't so say that I didn't delight in taking on the undead gangs that pour out of Risen 3's portals to the underworld. Risen 2's magical shenanigans have been greatly expanded, allowing for colorful displays of fire and ice. It's easy to be disappointed in Piranha Bytes' decision to retread the same ground, but never did I feel like I was playing Risen 2 all over again. The world is now beleaguered, suffering from the onslaught of dark forces, and not alive with civilian activity in the way Risen 2 was. I was immediately struck by how this world was no longer buzzing with love and labor.

No Caption Provided
In Risen 3, everybody wants something.
In Risen 3, everybody wants something.

Later, however, I came to appreciate how fear had spread across the land, causing distrust among comrades and tearing apart towns that had once bustled with commerce. The solitary fortresses where the mages and demon hunters dwelled exuded a hushed mystery that seemed appropriate, given the seriousness with which both factions approached their business. Bones aside, few characters make an impression on their own, but almost every character speaks in a hearty and assertive tone. They have lived their lives and lived them hard--and there is still more hard living to be had.

Those robust characters serve a shrug-worthy save-the-world story whose primary purpose is to get you exploring lush jungles and mining crystals in winding caverns. It isn't the primary narrative but the little stories you encounter that make a noticeable mark, even when the vibrant dialogue is overshadowed by the nonsensical order some of the dialogue options appear in. (Why am I telling this pirate that I took care of the looming threat, when he was with me when I did it, and already handed me a reward?) I had a hard time caring about whatever political shenanigans the Inquisition was up to, but the adventurer convinced that ducks were staring at him as he slept? This was a story I needed to hear. Sure, I needed to worry about oncoming evils, but solving the mystery of a man's insanity was far more intriguing.

Click below for more Risen 3: Titan Lords images.
Click below for more Risen 3: Titan Lords images.
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It's unfortunate that Risen 3 springs new irritations on you whenever it springs a new game system on you. Suddenly you're engaging in one of a few sea battles, which are fun new additions when they first appear, but still might have you wondering why the game doesn't provide you a cooldown bar for your side cannons, or why the final sea beast accosts you with attacks your ponderous vessel can't usually avoid. You might open your inventory window during battle to guzzle down some painkilling liquor, only to return to battle and find that the game has inexplicably sheathed your weapon on your behalf. Then there are soul points, which relate to an unnecessary morality system that doesn't seem to abide by any comprehensible set of rules. Sometimes you can be a jerk and have no effect on your soul standing; other times, you lose a point for being simply indifferent to another character's long-winded story. I never gleaned what consequence the soul meter had, and other mechanics--the dream sequences, the ability to turn on a type of spirit vision--were similarly half-baked.

I'm guessing, however, that if you're interested in Risen 3, you already have a certain expectation of it--one based on the developer's history of making interesting, exhaustive, clumsy role-playing games that manage to invest you in spite of their awkwardness. It's a matter of vision. Risen 3: Titan Lords is not the studio's grandest gesture, but the tendrils of this fantasy saga still grab you. The glitches and irritations poke at your patience, but the promise of buried treasure on a distant beach still compels you. Risen 3 has the potential to sweep you away, provided all that driftwood doesn't keep you at shore.

Back To Top
The Good
A lush archipelago brimming with adventures big and small
Energetic voice acting gives characters spark
Enhanced magic options diversify combat
The Bad
Exploitable combat dampens the spark
A smattering of glitches, execution foibles, and underdeveloped ideas
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd played all three Risen games. It took him about 35 hours or so to finish Risen 3, during which time he aligned with the demon hunters, collected all but one buried treasure, and helped Patty work her wiles on all of her targets.
167 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for santinegrete

can get the trilogy for few bucks in humble bundle people. you have 14 days

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

Having watched someone else's (very long) playthrough of the game, the game has some ideas, writing and other designs which seem good, but only on the planning boards of the developers. Unfortunately, they are botched by implementation of uneven quality.

For one, many of the other characters have far more amusing lines than the protagonist. For example, late in the game, one of the characters would make a fourth-wall-breaking remark about the player character and his party running around doing errands and mining ore while the rest of his crew suffer boredom from waiting on his ship. He responds with a "riiight" statement, which the player will hear him say over and over again throughout the game. (It so happens that the sound clip for that is recycled many times too.)

Also, the end-game would be laughably easy - and underwhelming - if the player has taken the trouble to power-up the player character. For example, the dude whom I watched defeated a certain infamous ghost captain in just under ten seconds.

Avatar image for Berserk8989

I like the game better than Risen 2 so far, but not more than Risen 1 (and by faaaaaar not more than Gothic 1 or 2). I think that anybody who loved the gothic series will find playing this one worthwhile, that's the case with me at least. The animations suck more or less and the combat's not really great (though not that bad as people make it out to be, especially not later in the game), but i like the "feel" of the game. The characters are also quite interesting, the script can be hilarious at times and the voiceovers are pretty good too, graphics are also more than decent if you ask me (just not the human character models, together with the animations). Overall i'd rate the game a well deserved 6.5/10, but it's definitely one of those "love it or hate it" games.. Basically like all PB games to be honest :P

Avatar image for Born_Lucky

This is the same website that gave Dragon Age II, the same score they gave Gothic II.


Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

Having watched someone else's playthrough, I have the impression that the developers have great ideas but they are not very good at executing them. So much of what I have seen so far feels halfway there.

Take for example the initiation ceremony into any faction. Someone yaps statements which just don't feel momentous, e.g. an official uttering the word "research" in the initiation into the Guardians.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

The voice-acting for Hawke the NPC is actually quite good. Heck, just about any NPC sounds better than the protagonist.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

The Khnoo (or Gnomes) have far better voice-acting than most of the humans - especially the sleepy and raspy protagonist.

Avatar image for visua

@MashedBuddha Agreed and I think that Risen 3 is the closest to the Gothic 2 feel that Pirahna Bytes has gotten to in the whole Risen series. It's a bit slow at times but it has the charm and lack of polish of the gothic series and I feel that it's a step in the right direction.

Avatar image for leikeylosh

I've been playing this game for a while now and I must say: Kevin was a bit too generous on this one. The game is beyond boring! It takes forever to beat even a small monkey and your character is so slow, it takes millenia to cross the map, which has no markers for most of the quests.

No improvements over Risen 2. On the contrary, many things in the game just got worse. Should definitely receive a 6 or 5.

Avatar image for MashedBuddha

@leikeylosh Aw no markers? How terrible for you. You can't beat a monkey? You clearly played so little to barely even level at all. This game wasn't designed for you. And yes I like Skyrim very much and the hand holding is useful there, but Gothic/Risen games are not designed around this philosophy and I always finish their games (unlike Bethesda games). Anyways there actually are markers for most of the quests.... you really got all confused by this game didn't ya? lol

It should "definitely" receive whatever score the reviewer gives it. I give it a 9/10

Avatar image for Gudzhis

@MashedBuddha Fanboy detected.

Don't even try to compare Risen with the Gothic series, which were much better. I know because I played all of them.

Avatar image for MashedBuddha

I didn't even compare the two.... what the hell are you talking about? And Gothic 2 is my favorite of all PB games, which are all designed around a very similar philosophy. You didn't understand my post at all and make zero sense.

Avatar image for Lpedraja2002

@leikeylosh I bought the first Risen game years ago and had the same exact problem, I thought the combat was pretty broken for staff users and magic just sucked beyond anything I've ever seen, I think it was the first game I played where a magic user didn't have mana regen! So you had to chug a potion after every 2 spells, which did crap damage. I even had to incease the running speed in the cfg files because the character just walked so slow! It was beyond irritating having to traverse the landscape at that walk speed. These developers suck at improving their games.

Avatar image for suhail_sama


play it for 300 years ... don't care ..... its a bad game

Avatar image for Blue_Tomato

Loved the Gothic games, and Risen too. I remember those games also had a lot of players complaining about bugs and a poor combat system, so I will just ignore similar comments here since this never was in the way for my enjoyment of those games.

I am a bit surprised to see the price being so high though, as the game is pretty far from a 2014 standard, yet sells for a premium rate. It looks pretty much like the previous games graphics wise, fairly outdated. But, graphics is not everything. Us poor classic RPG lovers does not have a lot of choice these days.

Avatar image for Lpedraja2002

@Blue_Tomato Sorry man but classic RPG games were pretty solid compared to what these devs have made in the recent years. I bought Risen on steam and hate it so much, the game combat was almost broken for magic users and the walkspeed of the characters was unbearably slow. The game had too many problems and they didn't even fix them for Risen 2 or 3, these devs are just lazy or don't have a clue.

Avatar image for PZcolo

Agree with Kevin in all here, only real letdown for me was how easy it was. As for the combat, that's how PB games go, it's what was expected and works quite well actually (again, leaving the easiness aside).

Avatar image for andrewryan123

I found just about every aspect of this game to be as weak as water.

I'm reading the comments and it seems like a lot of people are more than willing to make excuses for it. PB did something right to win over this loyalty. But this game is no fun to me.

Avatar image for MashedBuddha

@andrewryan123 Not making excuses if I genuinely like the game.

Avatar image for utterlyotter

Oh, another lazy cashgrab from the cynical incompetents at Deep Silver, how very surprising..

Avatar image for sorintitus

Huge fan of the Gothic series here. I also liked the first two Risen games to an extent. I think I'm getting this one as well when the price drops a bit.

Avatar image for Damnation_6

Looks like a game that I will pick up for cheap at some point.

Avatar image for ArchoNils2

I'm surprised such a broken game can get a 7. The increbible horrible battle system totally breaks the entire gameplay, destroying all the possible fun this game could deliver

Avatar image for Blue_Tomato


Avatar image for wziemniak

I actually encountered only one bug.

After a cinematic on crow's ship I'm supposed to fight a shadow guardian (it's the same scene like at the beginning of the game, dream comming true) but he doesn't move. I can't even attack him because I'm unable to aim at him (creature doesn't appear, shooting from musket or throwing bombs doesn't work either). Like he wasn't there.

So I'm stuck. Can't progress.

Avatar image for Zilched

When you see those posting that combat is 'broken' you might want to consider that you have to earn the combat moves, of course it's slow and clunky to start, so is anyone who doesn't know to fight yet.

Here's the simple lowdown on this game... it's more of Gothic 2, less Risen 1, the dialog, the quests, the NPC's and the 'feel' of the game, you can tell they spent a lot of time making this game for those who enjoyed the old title and want more.

I'm about 50% through the game, hard to stop playing, you know the feeling, just one more quest, one more cave, one more island... and it's 6am.

If you liked Gothic 2, Gothic 1... and yes, Risen 1, then you do yourself a disservice by passing this game by, there is a lot of game play and nostalgic fun to be found in this title, it'd be a shame to miss it.

Avatar image for Gudzhis

@Zilched Gothic games were fun with working combat mechanics. This games isn't.

Avatar image for suhail_sama


there are low budget games with good scores that people enjoy playing

this low budget is a piece of crap

Avatar image for Pandajuicy

@suhail_sama @SteXmaN In your opinion. There are more than a few people who enjoy playing this series.

Avatar image for SteXmaN

@suhail_sama can you recommend me a low budget Action RPG that you enjoyed recently? Is there any ?

Avatar image for suhail_sama


why would i buy a low budget for 50$

if im paying 50$ i expect a 50$ gaaaaaaaaaame

Avatar image for Lukasz253

guys don't buy it!

this is not any kind of honest 7!!! Tht's max 3, animations are broken, combat system is like not even alpha version but more telport fight teleport. Jesus ... and they seel it to you for 50$...

Such a disappointment in my gaming history didn't appear since few years

Avatar image for PinchySkree

£39.99 for a 7 ._.

Avatar image for koraykorac

copy past from Risen 2, nothing is new.Dont buy it and 7? how much money did you get to give that score?

Avatar image for MashedBuddha

@koraykorac There are some similar locations (islands) with all new content and several new islands..... "nothing is new" is an incredibly false (among other things) statement

Avatar image for Pelezinho777

Oh, come on, grow up.

Avatar image for suhail_sama


Solid .... Combat system ???? graphics ???? voice acting ????

man are u blind ??? sorry to say that.

Avatar image for Silverline62

@suhail_sama Grow the f up.

Avatar image for suhail_sama


why don't u shut the f up

Avatar image for SteXmaN

@suhail_sama @SteXmaN yeah,everythnig is solid for a low budget title.Rough around the edges but enjoyable RPG.

GRYOnline 85

PC gamer 82

Strategyinformer 80

Meristation 76

Gameinformer 70

GamesRadar 70

10 positive,8 mixed and 1 negative review.

Jim Sterling scored it 2/5.I think that's the place where you should look for your future reviews.

Avatar image for abcdefgabcdefgz

watched some gameplay of it. Pass for me.

Avatar image for suhail_sama


What kind of rating is this ??????

WHYYYYY are u doing this ????????

77777777777777 it should 3 or 4 max

Ur misleading people that its a good game, Its BAD very BAD so BAD and boring

Avatar image for wziemniak

@suhail_sama Actually I've been playing for 3 days almost without sleep. Had to stop now because of a bug. So it's not that boring.

Avatar image for SteXmaN

@suhail_sama really enjoying the game.I think this is more for the older audience.The ones who enjoyed the Gothic series especially 1&2.

It's not perfect but it is a solid RPG.

Avatar image for Gudzhis

@SteXmaN No it's not. I liked Gothic games. this crap doesnt even compare what they accomplished before.

Avatar image for vadagar1

@suhail_sama /sarcasm

Avatar image for suhail_sama


a minimap? hooray !

by Kevin VanOrd 12-Aug-2014
Avatar image for vadagar1

I just want to pinch Kevin's face .. so cute :P

yes im weird that way...sue me

nice review I think its the perfect score/review for this game, frankly I know all PB games are like this but I cant seem to stop getting them and enjoying them : /

Risen 3: Titan Lords More Info

  • First Released Aug 12, 2014
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox 360
    In the third installment of the Risen franchise, Risen 3: Titan Lords pulls players into a hand-crafted role-playing world full of rugged charm where every decision changes the course of the story and your fate, and the fate of the world, is up for the taking.
    Average Rating99 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Risen 3: Titan Lords
    Developed by:
    Piranha Bytes, Deep Silver
    Published by:
    Deep Silver
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.