A few years back a strange German company called Piranha Bytes released a title called Gothic for the PC and pretty much turned the genre upside down and shook out all the good bits. Unfortunately it had some rough edges that two sequels never quite hammered out, but it was always an amazing world to explore and play in. As a developer, Piranha Bytes was learning as it went along and kept adding to all the great touches that made these games possible. This wasn’t a game designed by marketing or limited by demographics, this was a true to itself role playing game. They set up something fantastic here and now with their latest title “Risen” available now for the PC and currently under development for the Xbox 360, Piranha Bytes can finally give us the game they always wanted.
Risen is not your typical RPG, it doesn’t hold your hand like Oblivion and it doesn’t send you hunting for random items that are slightly better then the last. The game puts you on an island after a ship wreck and the rest is up to you. The whole tutorial consists of a lady telling you to find a weapon, after that you are pretty much free to roam the wilderness and explore. Which brings up the major difference in this title and others you might have played, you can and will often get your butt handed to you, even by something as simple looking as a boar. This can be frustrating at the start, but puts you into the world with more urgency and makes you really think about the choices your character makes.
When it comes down to it, a good role playing game is about the choices you make and Risen is setup to make you think about your choices and stick with them. Weapons, armor and even skills become a part of the world and the way people interact with you. You shape your character by the choices you make, which factions you join and what you do or don’t do. This isn’t the typical good or evil choice making most games tack on, this is the most authentic character building game I’ve seen in a long while. When you earn a new set of armor or a new skill, it is a huge event that changes the way people think about you. It gives you a sense of pride when you grow your character, much more then simple stats ever could.
The pace of this game is rather slow in that respect and might turn off some gamers who simply like to grind and loot their way to maximum stats, but for those looking to find a fully interactive world where your action live in the choices you make, then this is the title for you. While your inventory is limited to a few key slots and weapons, the world is still full of treasure, adventure and surprises.
You can pick ingredients to make potions, cook food and generally interact with all the mundane objects in the world most games ignore, giving the game an unusual charm. The non player characters usually offer great voice acting, for the most part, and populate the world with interesting people who go about their lives, with or without you. They form opinions of you based on your actions and add to the role playing feel of this game.
Risen is the best PC RPG I’ve played all year, I haven’t spent this much time on a game sense Fallout 3 and while the two games are vastly different, Risen should appeal to fans of that and Oblivion. If you don’t want to rumble on the PC, a console port is headed to the Xbox 360 in a few months, but I haven’t had a chance to check that out yet. The PC version obviously looks the best and runs great, so if you can handle it and are looking for a game to sink many late nights into, Risen is one of the best RPGs to date!Last 5 posts by Brian Jones
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