Piranha Bytes are some of the only developers that have stuck to creating the same type of game for more than 14 years now, and they have always pushed the boundaries with their Gothic series. After a few problems with JoWood, their publisher at that time, they went ahead and published a new game, named Risen. The series became quite successful and the new entry, named Risen 3 tries to return to the roots by offering a gameplay that’s very similar to the one available in the Gothic games.
Right from the start you see that you won’t take the role of the hero that was playable in the first 2 Risen games, as now you are playing as the brother of Patty the pirate. After some unfortunate events portrayed in the beginning of the game, you will have to gain your soul back from the underworld, something that’s actually quite hard to do because you need to find out sorcerers and others which will be able to perform a special ritual.
The game keeps the pirate theme of the previous title but the interesting thing now is that you will be able to destroy shadow portals which basically allow shadow creatures to come forward in the land.
The most important gameplay opportunity in the game is, of course, exploration. You have multiple islands to explore and each one of them tends to bring different fauna and tons of quests. The game is said to have more than 400 quests, so there are lots of things to do. The interesting thing is that each island has its own theme, some of them are more Mediterranean like Tacarigua while others come with a darker theme, such as Calador. The only way to access these is via your ship.
As you play you will have the opportunity to solve quests for different factions, each one of them with different styles of combat. You can ally with the voodoo pirates, demon hunters or the magicians from Taranis. These are highly trained in different types of combat and you can join only one of these factions in a game session, so there’s quite a lot of replay value there. Depending on the faction you choose you will receive new quests, which is a neat thing to do.
The interface is almost the same as in Risen 2, although that’s not a problem since it works really well and it provides you with all the info that you might need. Just like in any other Risen game, you can learn skills from various persons located all over the map. In fact, there are way too many people that can train you, which can be daunting for some people. The same problem applies to sellers, which are way too many of on each island. This is a good thing on the other hand because you won’t get short of supplies, armor and weapons thanks to them.
Risen 2’s combat was criticized quite a lot and in the new entry this problem seems to be solved for the most part. You get the old sword and firearm system, but this time parrying and dodging makes combat more interesting as well as dynamic. Moreover, now we can also use the rune magic which was one of the best additions in the first Risen game. If we join the mages we can learn a plethora of destructive spells that will certainly help us destroy all opponents.
Risen 3 is made using the same game engine as the predecessor, but there are some improvements. Overall, you will have a pleasant experience since each region tends to have a different color tone. Piranha Bytes managed to create some vibrant, interesting game worlds once again, and each island is a pleasure to explore. The animals look really good and character design is great as well. There are some low-quality textures from time to time, but they shouldn’t bother you that much.
The series always had an action packed soundtrack combined with some lush themes when you won’t fight anyone, so the same musical tone is kept here as well. The soundtrack is really immersive, which is a plus. Unfortunately, the voice acting is a little bad, especially for some of the major characters. On the other hand, you will get used to it as you play.
Despite its problems, Risen 3 is still a great game for RPG lovers. Although other types of gamers might have a hard time used to the multitude of game mechanics, this is still an amazing title that we definitely recommend for anyone. Think of it like a diamond in the rough that does require some time to shine, but once it does you get totally hooked to the story and gameplay. That being said, we do recommend it to anyone that wants to live a great and sometimes unpredictable adventure!