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I've always loved a great RPG. It's a genre I can sink hours into-whether it be completing a large number of quests, to simply exploring the land by my own free will. Risen almost was a great RPG, but there are a few frustrating, and incredibly disappointing moments that prevent this from happening.
The game follows a nameless individual who, after a shipwreck, has found himself washed up ashore on a remote island. When your character wanders inland, you will notice that the island is divided up into three factions: a monastery containing a band of spiritual men-not all, you soon find out, were voluntary members, a swamp run by the cruel Don Esteban, and the central town, which is fighting an on-going battle against the swampland's stubborn leader. Upon entering, you will be given the choice of which faction to join and fight under, which will then lead to a long, and rather boring first act.
Unfortunately, Risen suffers from a very slow start, and there is nothing that interesting about the struggles between each of the factions. The obligatory "fetch and return" quests that most RPGs tend to adopt at least for a while make up the majority of the early quests in Risen. Personally, I don't mind these types of quests, but when the first half of the game is mainly made up of them, you start to get a little frustrated. I craved more action-something this plodding pace wasn't really investing in enough.
However, the slow pace is not the only negative aspect of the game. Another downside is that the voice acting is rather awful for the most parts. The game is not that impressive visually. It looks like a game that would have been released on the original Xbox, rather than for the upgraded Xbox 360. The NPCs in particular suffer the most graphically, and combine this with some dull voice acting, and what we are given are rather lifeless NPCs. Thankfully, there are a few that pack in some emotion during the beginning talks about the island inhabitants struggles under an oppressive ruler, but for the most part, it sounds like a lot of the characters are bored. The game is also plagued with frame-rate issues, which can cause quite a lot of frustrations during combat. At times, fighting felt like it was being done in stop-motion, which eventually I got used to, but should I have to? The point is, this is something that should have been fixed during the games final testing stages. It definitely adds to the feeling of the game being a little unfinished.
The final negative point comes in the map. RPG's tend to have an expansive world to discover at your leisure. Whilst Risen has quite a large map to explore to your hearts content, the games map hinders the progress during quests and exploration. Unlike Oblivion and many other RPG's on the Xbox 360, there is no mini-map, so tracking your quest is going to be a frustrating one. Finding your way to your destination involves opening up the menu, scrolling down to your selected quest, highlighting the map, and taking a look at the markers on it. The map is poorly drawn, and does not always reflect the areas in which you are currently standing. It also does not save your desired destination, so once you leave the map, it will completely wipe everything, leaving you playing through the game without any guidance. Requiring the map again means you have to go through the complex and long process of firing up the menu again and going through several options before you can view it. It's perhaps the worst aspect of the game, and really hindered my own enjoyment of it. Wandering around aimlessly is fine when you have chosen to do some free-roaming exploration, but you shouldn't be forced to do this when you're actually wishing to get somewhere.
If you look past these flaws, you may feel pleasantly surprised. Risen picks up significantly after the ultra long first section has been completed. Quests begin to feel more fleshed out, and more combat-heavy quests are thrown into the mix. Wandering around the land and talking to the residents is actually pretty enjoyable after you've escaped the dull opening. The games strongest point comes in the large amount of choices you are given as you make your way through it. Quests will vary depending on what faction you originally decided to join, and what choices you have made during your time on the island. The story seems to shape it's way around your actions, thus allowing you to build your character, and your gaming experience, in any way you wish. Unfortunately a lot of people will miss out on the full enjoyment of this, due to the games flaws, which seems a big shame, as Risen has so much potential.
Risen has plenty of room for character development, and a rich, expansive landscape with a multitude of quests makes this sound ideal on paper. Unfortunately though, there are too many aspects here that stop this from being a great game. One gets the feeling that the game lacks a lot of polish, and feels a little unfinished, thus resorting in an often frustrating rather than enjoyable experience. It really is a shame, as it promised to be so much more than it ended up being.
-Also featured on Ciao under "MonsoonBaby88" and 8-Bitgirl.blogspot.com
The first redeeming quality of this game is its price. I found it in second hand in a high street store for just under £5, and it seems that it is available fairly cheap in most places. Unfortunately as I bought Saw II at the same time, it was a while before I got around to giving Risen a try.
You wake up on a beach with a female fellow human, seemingly having been victims of a shipwreck. Having a rather distracting toddler running round and also trying to play the game with his mummy, I missed most of the introductory titles, and was therefore fairly lost when gameplay began. It is not very well explained why you are where you are, and you are just asked to find a weapon (piece of driftwood for me) and get on with it. There is a large bird at the other end of the beach picking at a body, and he is your first - rather tricky - enemy.
Make sure that you search everywhere and everything you find - including bodies of stuff that you have killed -, this is where you get the most interesting bits and pieces. You can also pick up various random pieces, sometimes there is gold scattered around and sometimes herbs that you can eat. In time, you reach a hut with another human inside, where thankfully, the storyline is expanded on a bit. This is the point at which you need to make probably the most important choice of the game, to go and join the Don's bandits in the swampland, or the Inquisition in their white robes, in the town (I chose the bandits).
From hereon in the game grows gradually in magnitude, with you carrying out tasks of greater and greater importance to whoever you have chosen to serve. Experienced RPGers will know the drill.
The gameplay is fairly awkward, with a lot of use of the trigger buttons to draw, withdraw and swap weapons, all of which is usually delayed. There are four menus accessed by the control pad, and I found it quite difficult to remember which direction opened which menu. You also need to remember to save regularly - although the autosave does come up periodically, you can go a long way and then get killed by a silly little enemy, which drives you crazy!
You also lose damage points if you pause by entering the inventory during battle, which I found very frustrating, and the inventory itsself could have been designed a lot better, as you can hardly make out what most items are, never mind the tiny little number signifying how many of said item you are carrying. Eventually the game plays out into quite an interesting ending, and it does make you feel pleased that you persevered with it, even if only for the achievements/gamer points.
Were I to play this game again, I would probably do it with the use of a game guidebook, should one be available, as there is always the feeling that you have missed something important. All in all though I felt it was a nice little RPG for fans of the genre who are looking for something slightly different, and are on a bit of a budget.
Risen isnt the kind of game you pick up, sit down and play through with ease!
the start of the game is rather blunt with hardly any explination where you end up washed up on a beach surrounded by rubbel and a few bodies. you finnd yourself stranded on a strange island that has been invaded by a "white robed" organisation called The Inquisition after a bunch of temples randomly rose from the ground around the island. you soon learn that the inquisition are there to retrieve all the treasure that came up along with the temples and have placed new laws that prevent anyone new from entering the island along with anyone leaving. you find yourself choosing between heading to the swamp to roll with the Don's men or going to "harbour town" to make your way there. if you choose to go to harbour town you can choose to help out the Don's men who lurk around the streets or help the inquisition in making the Don's men leave. if you help the inquisition eventually you will be asked to join the group and can choose to be trained as a warrior or a mage. alternatively if you get arrested by the inquisition you get drafted in and are forced to train as a warrior.
the downside to what seems to be a rather "free choice" game, there are major restrictions as in, you can't buy armour, it is given to you as you advance in the game and even then you have to play far into the game to recieve proper armour, before then it just seems to be robes. Also, it is very complicated as in some of the missions you are given are rather vague in description and can take some wandering and talking to people in order to know what your meant to be doing.
This isn't 100% throughout the game there are also good aspects such as a rather involved story line that left me dying to carry on playing, however i'll leave you to find that out for yourself i wouldnt want to spoil the game :)
the fighting style is kind of shabby and you will find yourself having to save a LOT to make sure you dont loose progress as you WILL die frequently since the smallest things can kill you if you dont stay on your toes.
graphics wise they could have done a lot better and the icons and text seems to be very small and quite hard to read, however i have played games where the graphics where a lot worse so theres not much i have to say on that point.
All in all i'd say the game is probably worth checking out if you have a lot of patience and for the price it can kill quite a lot of time as you try to grasp the gameplay. As you progress in the game you will find it opens up and becomes more fun and enjoyable.
P.s originally written by ME on ciao.co.uk
Risen is one of those strange under-the-radar games that really took me by surprise. I picked it up on a whim because I found it in the bargain bin, and to be honest it sat in my "to play" pile for a good while. Eventually though, I dropped the disc into my 360 and within a few hours I was completely and utterly hooked.
I'll be honest though - Risen has its flaws. During the first hour or two I was thinking to myself that I was glad I'd picked this up so cheap, because the graphics are quite unimpressive, the combat is quite clunky, and animations and voice-acting leaves a bit to be desired. However, I somehow managed to look beyond all that, which worked out quite well, because lurking underneath is one of the most engrossing RPGs I've ever played.
You start off on the beach of an unknown island, as a washed up shipwreck survivor with a woman named Sara for company. Your first foes will be a few giant birds and porcupine-style creatures. As you explore the island, you'll meet your first inhabitant, who can either guide you to a glorious city ruled by an order of mages, or a swampy marshland ruled by a group of bandits. At the time, I didn't realise quite how big a decision this was, but in reality this decision shapes the entire game, and I'm more than curious to find out how things would turn out if I chose the opposing side. However, as the game clocks in at around 50 hours, I'm in no particular rush to try again.
As it turns out, I chose to meet the bandits. They will teach you how to be a better fighter - allowing you to fight with swords and axes, and to wear tougher armour. The story starts slow; you'll be helping the bandits sort out petty squabbles and doing simple fetch quests and hunting creatures for them. Because the story is the greatest redeeming quality of Risen, and because it's so story-driven, I'll try not to spoil it too much, but before long you'll be doing quests of greater enormity and importance, and you'll be working directly for the head of your chosen faction. At this point, you start to feel more value as a character in the game, and the game really sucks you in.
The map is huge, and for the first chapter or two you have to do everything on foot. This isn't quite as bad as it sounds though, because you only have to travel very far once or twice, and by the time walking from one end of the earth to the other becomes a regular occurrence, you're given the ability to fast travel. Travelling on foot is necessary at the start of the game though, because you encounter more enemies that way, and gain much-needed experience. The more experience you gain, the more levels you gain, and although it's a bit unfortunate that you can't specifically allocate attribute points, you can level up your skills, such as swordplay, alchemy or smithing. This is done via the use of 'learning points' - each level you gain gives you 10 such points, and you can distribute them any way you see fit across any of your skills, or hang on to a few to add on to your next lot of points when you next level up. When you have the requisite amount of points for a given skill, you must find someone who is an expert in the field to train you up. You'll need to pay them, too, but it's a unique and interesting way of levelling up that I thought worked pretty well.
The skills you can choose are vital to how you level up, and I really liked the item creation skills - you can craft your own swords and magical jewellery, for example, and given the right materials and skills, you can craft far more powerful items than you will find in the world.
Combat is a bit clunky, and although perfectly fine against one or two enemies, given more than that, especially on the later levels, things become far more difficult than they really should be. Playing the smart game and separating enemies off from a group becomes essential. This is especially true during the later stages, when enemies become much tougher. I was grateful that as the game was starting to wind down, I met a friendly ogre who fought with me against some of the most difficult enemies - I'm really not sure what I would have done without him!
There's admittedly a fair amount wrong with Risen. The graphics aren't all that, the combat is a bit clunky, and the animations leave a bit to be desired. If you can look behind that though, Risen has that special "something" that will keep you hooked and coming back for more. It truly wound up being one of the greatest RPGs I've experienced.