A long time ago a small German developer called Piranha Bytes made a game called Gothic. It was a different type of Role Playing Game and it was not what most Americans are used to. It wasn’t about crawling around in a dungeon slowly gaining levels like most US RPG games tend to be and it wasn’t about flying around on a magic cat in-between hour long cut scenes like more Japanese gamers are used to. These Eastern European Role Playing Games are a different breed, and they are my favorite type of role playing game these days. I’ve enjoyed the Gothic series more then any other RPG out there. I was excited to learn about Gothic 4, but that excitement quickly turned to fear, then anger as the game was clearly only called Gothic by title, not merit.
Some of the things that make a “Gothic” game stand out are that it has no hand holding, there is no slow progression of characters and you rarely get items and armor, but when you do, it is awesome. The world is living, people care about what choices you make and respond to them. Working for a certain faction, even just wearing the armor of that faction will cause people to react to you. Villagers would go about their business, cleaning, sweeping, cooking. You could join them, working as a blacksmith, making potions, cooking food and produce items of value you could use or trade. Quests would expand and unfold as you travel the world, if you could venture far into the woods that is, monsters of the world will easily take you out in one hit if you are not ready. Another staple of the Gothic series is you can smoke weed! Roll a blunt and hang out with the town guards, whatever man, it is always up to you.
Gothic 4 however is done by a new developer. The game features no qualities of the Gothic franchise, most annoying is that while you can use things like tables and chairs, blacksmith tools and potion tables, you only pretend to use them. Yes, in a game where you are pretending to be a hero, your character will stop and pretend to be a blacksmith or pretend to work on a potion. In the start of the game you have no weapon, you get a broom or a rake or something, but you can stop at the blacksmith and use the mill to sharpen a broadsword you pull out of nowhere. When you are done, it just goes back to imagination land. Sit at a table and pretend to eat and drink, he even sometimes calls for a waiter in an empty room of a house you just walked into.
Everything else in Gothic 4 is a step backwards. You are left with a generic RPG that offers nothing different then a lower budget Oblivion. The stunning lack of detail and care that went into this game practically drove me to pick back up Risen, an RPG from the original developers of Gothic. I had the title on PC and played with it a bit, but being a console gamer at heart I went back to the xbox version after being horribly disappointed by Gothic 4. Risen is everything Gothic 4 should be. I’ve easily spent the last few weeks playing Risen, while Fallout New Vegas sits on my shelf. Fallout seems daunting to me at this point, it is so wide open and all over the place, everyone wants to spend hours talking to me and I need to walk for days just to find out what I have to do. Normally this would be a fun situation, but in my limited gaming time I need a bit more focus, and Risen is giving me that. It’s such a great game, I love the feeling of power when I kill my first ogre, after being killed countless times by them blocking off a new path. The first half of the game you get shit on up and down by the enemies, getting instantly killed by pest animals until you gain enough skills and power to start destroying them.
Risen lets you craft items, mine for supplies, make scrolls, cook food, learn magic, pick pocketing, sneaking and other skills. You interact with the world more. The game has been out for awhile, in fact I picked up my copy at Gamestop for under $20 but if you haven’t checked it out, please, instead of bothering with Gothic 4, go try this game and support the developers of the Gothic series by showing them you like their games. The game will keep you busy for awhile, at least until Risen 2 comes out!
If you already played Risen, check out Two Worlds 2, the sequel to the hilariously awkward Two Worlds. That game was pretty much the B movie hit of video games. It was a lot of fun, but horribly translated and the duct tape design made it funnier then it should have been. The sequel actually looks like they spent some time on making it even more fun game play wise, but it still includes some strange things, like this spell that apparently casts a ring of junk around you for no reason.
So check out Risen, wait for Risen 2 and Two Worlds 2, but avoid Gothic 4, even as a bargin title Gothic 4 is not and never will be a Gothic game worth playing. If you have never played Gothic, don’t use Gothic 4 as a measure of this amazing series!Last 5 posts by Brian Jones
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