Risen 3 – Titan Lords or Of Black Flags and Walls of Texts

Remember Risen 2? A good foundation of a solid story, a cool tropical setting and good (as in not too cliché) humour, albeit hampered by tons of glitches and bugs and a pretty much boring combat system (to put it mildly) …

The bad news is that the combat system still feels a bit boring in Risen 3 – Titan Lords, at least until you can finally upgrade it once a couple of hours in. Still, fighting the same set of enemies over and over again feels rather bland and boring – especially if you go the melee way. Magic and guns are better implemented though, but it’ll take quite some time to get there. Hint: Do many escort missions early on and let your companions do the fighting – you get the glory aka experience anyway.

The good news though is the rest of Risen 3 – Titan Lords. Yes, there are a few bugs and glitches although the 360 version at least runs relatively stable even prior to a day 1 patch. And yes, it is not really polished in places (the frame rate comes crashing down during each and every autosave), but the atmosphere, the heaps of dialogue and the sarcastic humour make up for it. Speaking of the dialogues – prepare for some reading and listening. By some, Rabidgames means walls of text everywhere … After all, this is a proper RPG! Sometimes, Risen 3 actually tests your reading comprehension – so better don’t click away everything …

Fighting aside, there is much variety to be had in terms of gameplay: You can transform into a parrot or a monkey to reach otherwise inaccessible places, you can talk, blackmail and intimidate your way around the tropical settings of Risen 3. You can have some fun in mini-games such as knife throwing or arm wrestling if you like, too. There are also 3 different magic schools to “research”, different melee and distance fighting styles and your usual alchemy/smithing skills etc. One of the selling points of Risen 3 is that you can explore to your heart’s content (each of the 6 islands has caves, hidden paths and sometimes even puzzles on offer).

It is the exploring that reminds Rabidgames of Dragon’s Dogma, plus the story that some demon rips your spirit out of your body in the beginning (granted, it’s not a dragon ripping out your heart, but the similarities are still there). Oh, and the tropical pirate setting and some sequences where you control your ship make the game feel just like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag … There’s also some Dragon Age Origins/Mass Effect 3 feel to the story arc “unite all the factions against an overwhelming fiend” – but it all works out fine in Risen 3, partly because the game doesn’t take itself too seriously at times.

Here’s the catch: You can only join one of the three factions in one playthrough! You’ll be on friendly terms with the others, yeah, but you’ll miss out on some decent skills and abilities. Coupled with the ability to be a kind spiritless man or a soulless terror, there are 6 possible ways to tackle Risen 3. You can join a native tribe to practise some voodoo on your enemies, you can join proper mages who teach you elemental magic, or you join the Demon Hunters who focus on melee with a hint of underworld sorcery, the choice is up to you. Just remember you’ll learn the other stuff in yet another playthrough. There’s also the choice of being a benevolent spiritless dude by being nice to your fellow humans – or you don’t give a fuck and slowly turn into a soulless demon yourself – again, this is up to you!

The scope of Risen 3  is also satisfactory: Rabidgames is already 20 hours in, and it feels like one third of the way … Nice to see some game that dares to devour our time instead of just having bare minimum content for 8 hours. There’s also an achievement for completing 300 quests – that looks like it would take a while. While some subquests are more of the fetch category,  they are still presented with some background, sometimes coupled with choices.

One word about pre-order DLC: True, it is not as bad as Sacred 3 and a whole class hidden behind the paywall, but two areas of Risen 3 are blocked off for gamers who feel like buying it used – yet another dick move. Yes, there is enough content anyway, but it is time developers and publishers stop this bullshit! We don’t need day 1 DLC – under absolutely no circumstances!

At the end of the day, Risen 3 can be a rewarding game with tons of contact if you like reading shitloads of text and if you don’t mind the rough edges. Expect AAA gaming and you’ll be disappointed though. But for anyone who wants to play a RPG with a different setting and for anyone who wants to spend dozens of hours with a game, Risen 3 might be just the game to go to.

Mind you, after 20 hours, Rabidgames is far from finished with Risen 3, so there might be more to come story-wise, who knows … but so far, it has been a fun journey on the southern seas and islands.

Rabidgames applauds: Finally, a proper RPG for consoles, after some years’ wait. You, know, the old-fashioned kind: Stats matter in combat and everywhere else, tons of dialogue where the “evil” option is not always at the bottom, and the tropical setting makes Risen 3 stand out from the fantasy worlds of yesteryear … While it is not polished as it could be, it is still time for some good old RPG fun, if you ask Rabidgames!

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