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Risen scores 7.4 on the Kharn-o-meter
Review - posted by Jason on Thu 12 November 2009, 10:37:52Tags: Piranha Bytes; Risen
Official Friend of the Codex Brother None whipped up an in-depth review of Risen over at GameBanshee. He had complaints about some of the core aspects of the game, including the character system and quest design.
The ridiculousness of combat being a primary solution in a town setting is exacerbated by the location's stress on order and peace (this holds less true for, say, the Bandit Camp, where combat is also a primary solution to your problems), but its general shallowness is a bit of a letdown after PB's previous games. Bribe, kill or steal seems to be the general rule of quest-resolution in the game, and that's not very satisfying. It's especially a letdown when an opportunity for more comes along: one of the better quests in the game involves uncovering clues to track down a murdered in the Monastery. But even this quest, a nice little detective-side track, is more shallow than it first seems, as the player is given almost no options in the path of his inquiries, and his hand is held in uncovering clues almost the entire way.
But of course, he still found things to make the RPG faithful all warm and fuzzy.
That freedom to screw up has always been one of the core strengths of Piranha Bytes and it remains in Risen. PB, unlike many cRPG designers, understands one of the core principles of RPG design lies in tangible progress. Level scaling and overly linear chapter progression both destroy tangible progress, as you are always matched up to your enemy. There is nothing quite as satisfying as returning to the ogres you had to run away from in desperation earlier to defeat them in a hard fight. The challenge is hard and unforgiving, but it's only through the lack of handholding that Risen can offer a real feeling of accomplishment many of its cRPG contemporaries can not. Challenge rules heavily in this school of design, and it's exactly on points where Piranha Bytes does this well that they get lambasted – the slow, steady progression of available armour works because it makes the armour feel that much more valuable, yet cRPG players used to recent, loot-centric action RPGs will lament the lack of character customization and “phat loot” in general.
In the end, Risen was given a modest score of 7.4/10.
Gothic 3, the precursor to this game, was overly ambitious and suffered from it. In response, it feels like Piranha Bytes has gone completely the other way and made a game that was under-ambitious. Risen is a remake of Gothic made slightly more accessible. Enjoyable, but hardly inspiring.