Risen succeeds at being a glorified RPG setting that will keep you playing, but that's about all it's good at.
The story doesn't drive you all too well. The island the game is showcased upon is the most impressive feat of this game. You see some lovely landscapes and get to explore the island thoroughly with a very absorbing atmosphere that's almost enough to keep you reeled into the experience, and I'd say the one extra attribute to add to its depth is how you get to choose which faction you want to join. Which side will you take? It makes the game's replay value decent as you can experience most of the story from two different sides, but that doesn't change the quests very much, as you'll find yourself doing the same quests as you did on your previous playthrough.
Let's dig a little deeper. You have a main character that has the potential to be likeable if he had a bit more personality injected into him that you stick with throughout the entire game. He gets stirred up in an island whose culture he is clueless. There are many fun NPCs with great voice acting sticking around offering some variety-filled quests, but you begin to realize the monotony of it all several hours in, mainly because the game takes no steps forward to keep things interesting. Nothing very memorable happens, and if you think about it, the quests are fetch quest after fetch quest. There are no real 'epic' or intense moments, and the game ends on a dull note.
The gameplay is only for those who have an open mind and have played games of all qualities. The combat is borderline okay, as the clicking marathons begin and you may or may not come out in one piece. The weapon mechanics and the way magic spells and ranged weapons are utilized are pulled off relatively well, and we really get some unique abilities to make use of in Risen. You can levitate, turn into a snail and use telekinesis, and much more. You get the dialogue typical of more recent RPGs like Dragon Age, Mass Effect and The Witcher. It does a good job at keeping dialogue intruiging and becoming friends with an NPC happens quick because of their personality. There's a diverse set of quests to be done, which sometimes glitch here and there, and the lack of polish on certain game aspects pull you away from being immersed entirely.
The graphics are the highlight (especially utilizing the modifications users have made) of the game and will display vast, lush and green landscapes to you as you adventure. It's difficult to see at night time, so going to sleep in a bed as soon as it gets dark out, then choosing to get up the next morning in the game is the suggested choice. The NPCs and character models on the other hand aren't very nice looking, and the amount of NPC face recycling is one of the first faults of the game you'll probably realize. Some graphical glitches may happen here and there on the PC version, and most animations are absolutely awful. The menus look relatively nice in a nostalgic sort of way if you've played older RPGs like Diablo, Oblivion or even World of Warcraft.
The sounds, music and voice acting are all great. We have a few memorable tunes that you may or may not have stuck in your head at the end of the game, but while you're playing, it really adds to the atmosphere. Unfortunately the final boss' intensity is disrupted by the lack of effort in the sound or music department. The voice acting comes from a few famous names out there, and the music compliments the atmosphere perfectly. It'll be what keeps you hooked in the setting of Risen.
-Beautiful landscape visuals, especially if graphical mods are applied.
-Music and sound design is atmospheric and sucks you into this game's artificial nature.
-The atmosphere and mood of the game will set the tone and keep you going through your journey.
-A paradise for nostalgic or hardcore RPG fans.
-Great voice acting featuring some talented actors.
-Okay combat for those willing to accept its dated feel.
-Lack of polish, tedium and story momentum drives this game down the drain for those looking for an exciting journey.
-Poor animations and awful physics.
-Game drags on too long for what it has to offer.
-Almost worthless ending for the time spent playing through the main quest.
-Extremely harsh difficulty in the early hours. You truly feel defenseless until you grab some weapons and armor, which can take lots of time and effort to get.
In the end, I give Risen a solid 7/10. Before I beat the game, I was considering giving it a little higher, but at this point of reflecting upon the overall experience, I feel generous even giving it a 7. If you're looking for an underdog RPG that may remind you of the classics or want a lengthy and absorbing journey to pass some time, definitely give this a try.