Thursday, 4 September 2014

Risen 3: Titan Lords

I think I'm in the minority in the fact that I quite enjoyed the original Risen. Released in back in 2009, though it wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I found it to be incredibly fun. You see, my go-to genre of choice is the RPG. Why? Well, I guess I've always felt that it's the genre that can offer the most to a gamer. From adventure, a rich story, deep characters, various gameplay mechanics and, above all else, fun, the RPG can cover quite a lot in one game. Of course, not every RPG ticks those boxes, but for the most part Risen did a good job at it. Then again, I found its sequel, Risen 2: Dark Waters, to be a huge let-down. It felt like a misstep after Risen, and this became all too apparent through its tiresome combat mechanics, something that should have been greatly improved in the sequel. So now we come to the next title in the Risen franchise. Does it at least improve on the lacklustre Risen 2: Dark Waters? Yes and no.

Developed by Piranha Bytes and out now on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 comes Risen 3: Titan Lords, proof that you can't teach an old sea-dog new tricks, but you can dress him up in a nice new suit every two years. Like all entries in the series so far, the plot is a great set-up for both adventure and an epic battle against evil. Risen 3 opens up with a simple jungle mission, but your character promptly dies after coming into contact with a portal to the underworld. After a simple pirate burial by your comrades, Bones, a local shaman, resurrects your character. However, you're not the man you used to be as, to prevent yourself from slowly turning into a minion of the underworld, you'll need to defeat a growing darkness that's spreading across the world. But fear not, it's not all doom and gloom. Thankfully much like its predecessors, Risen 3 is quite over-the-top with its character dialogue and humour. Both narratively and through its excellent cast of characters, the game is dark at times, but never takes itself too seriously.

Risen 3 is at its best when it's all about exploration and pure adventure. The open-world offered to players here is really, really beautiful. Though not massive, this pirate themed world offers a few large islands to fully explore among other, smaller locations. This world is bright, vibrant, a thrill to explore and packed full of characters to interact with, enemies to battle and countless safe havens to simply enjoy. Beyond merely a reason to scope out Risen 3’s beauty, exploration is also a must if you want to unlock certain abilities and even start recruiting new characters onto your crew. Another layer to this great sense of adventure comes with commanding your pirate ship. Though you can't control it at will, intense naval battles and fights with massive grotesque sea creatures breath a wonderful level of atmosphere into the game.

One thing Risen 3 nails are the factions. While previous entries in the series pushed the player strongly towards one skill, Risen 3 is far more open. You can choose to be part of one of the three factions available; Mages, Voodoo Pirates and Demon Hunters. Each faction has an island, unique look and feel, and offers the player different combat capabilities. For instance, while Demon Hunters can use melee magic, it's quite limited compared to what a fully-fledged Mage is capable of. This trend goes throughout all factions, and while it might make each faction a little too similar to one another, it does offer some re-playability in the long run. Combat itself is, well, quite a lot like Risen 2: Dark Waters, and that's not good. For a game that attempts a lot with its lovely open-world, Risen 3 is painfully mundane in the combat department. Almost every battle you'll find yourself will most likely go something like this: dodge, block, build up powerful attack, attack, magic, risen and repeat! It really is that simple, and it's not helped by some of the later ill-conceived boss battles that will truly test your patience.

Overall Risen 3 is a mixed bag. On one hand it has pretty terrible combat, while on the other it offers an enjoyable and rich open-world. However, thanks to its world, characters and great humour, you'll come away from Risen 3 with fond memories, rather than focusing on its many missteps.

Risen 3: Titan Lords just about prevents a shipwreck and gets a 3/5.


Denis Murphy

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