Risen provides you with as much satisfaction, as efforts you put in it...
I picked up Risen because I have heard quite a few gamers (especially on the PC Games Discussion Forums) praising this game and comparing it to the Gothic series (but not Gothic 4 which has nothing to do with the original series, bar the name). As you might know European RPGs tend to be a little different than the tradition US-based WRPGS – more diverse role-play, few extra options and the difficulty level is usually kicked up a notch.
I started playing Risen about two weeks ago and my experience with it has been tremendous, yet frustrating. This is a game that you should: know and follow the number one rule when playing it: You get what you put in!. Please do not forget that when you play it. I will explain in detail what I mean.
The overall concept of Risen's story is pretty standard for fantasy-based RPG – you are washed ashore of an island, after your ship crashes nearby. You start with nothing but some raggedy clothes and this is it – off you go against your enemy in a quest to save not only the island but humanity as a whole. Every bit of the plot and role-play after this moment however, delivers a truly great RPG experience.
The story of Risen is good on average. The main quest is long and the hundreds of side quests (yes, you read correctly – hundreds!) are beautifully intertwined with each other and main quest. For example, in order to complete a certain side quest you have to complete a different one, then got back to the first one and complete it which in turn helps you out with a further other quest down the road. The side quests are very interesting and rewarding for the most part. The game sprawls around 4 Chapters and by the time you reach the final battle you will feel a satisfying pleasure in your gut because, believe me when I say this, Risen is the hardest RPG/game I have played for the XBOX 360. 8/10
Risen is not a beautiful game. The graphics and textures are worse than Dragon Age Origins but the overall presentation is a decent one. The scenery and the world are good, but the character models need a lot of work. Besides a lot of the models have been used and re-used over and over again, but this does will not bother you because, as I said, Risen will grab your attention in a different perspective. Bottom line is: the game delivers in other areas but graphics and textures is not one of them. 6/10
Risen's voice acting is surprisingly good. For a game which does not look very good, the voices are very well performed, the emotions of the characters can be heard and felt for the most part. The ambient fantasy sounds, soundtrack and themes are very appropriate and add extra authenticity to the game as a whole. 8/10
This is the best aspect of Risen by none. As far as role-play the game delivers big time. There are of course a couple of downfalls. Let's start with them. Firstly, you don't get to choose the sex or the physical appearance of your character when you begin. I know this is not a big deal, but I think having an extra option at the beginning allows you to create your character and your..ROLE so to speak. So you are stuck with a blond-headed guy, who looks like he could lose some weight. Ha ha. The second downfall was the fact that controls are clunky (especially combat controls) and add an extra level of difficulty to the game (until you get used to them and use a lot of "finesse" in your attacks and movement). At the beginning you will feel extra sensitivity to the right stick of your controller, but you will get used to that, since there is no way to change it. You could also encounter several glitches while playing Risen, for example if you defeat an enemy and it falls from a cliff or a ledge the enemy object tends to glitch badly, which does not affect gameplay at all though. Also, if you encounter any glitch involving your character a simple re-load a previous save will fix that, but those glitches are very, very rare. Save, save, save. Risen is a hard game and you will die a lot so save frequently! Now for the good part. Risen is a "true RPG". There are so many options to improve your character. You can learn skills and improve fighting techniques only by learning them from certain people/individuals around the game world. I think this adds realism to the game, as you need somebody to teach you something rather than having some awarded points which you distribute to your stats. The combat fighting is also very diverse. You have three major combat techniques – Melee, Long-Range and Magic, but they, on the other hand, have multiple sub-categories that you can improve on. For example, the long-range combat you can improve either your archery or your crossbow skills. As far as your melee combat, you can improve on your Sword Fighting, Axe Fighting, Staff Fighting etcetera…Here is a TIP: In Risen you can NOT be a jack of all trades. Pick a skill or two and improve on those. It will save a lot of headaches and angry moments I promise. Other great RPG elements are: you can cook/fry soups/meat/fish using a pan or a ladle (without them you can't do that), you can learn to make potions (how strong depends on how well you know alchemy or whether you have other skills to do so), you can forge your own weapons or magical jewelry (and it is not just a "button press away" but you actually have to have the skills, the tools and the equipment), you can "prospect" for important elements like Ore or Gold which you use to forge your own weapons or rings….The list goes on, this is why I said this is a "true RPG". Lastly, Risen provides you with a wonderfully-crafted island, open-world to explore and loot and a very balanced leveling system. 10/10
To me Risen is a great game. It was a very hard two weeks of my gaming career, because (for a second time) believe me, Risen is a HARD, HARD RPG and the more you put into this long game, the more satisfying it becomes. I cannot stress this enough – Risen is a HARD game (even on NORMAL setting) so the more you put into your character the more satisfying it becomes. Do I need to repeat it again? 7.5/10