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Lots of Potential, Lots of Questionable Design Decisions: Destructoid Reviews Risen 2
Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 23 April 2012, 09:16:01Tags: Piranha Bytes; Risen 2: Dark Waters
A Risen 2: Dark Waters review has popped up at Destructoid, and the score is 7/10.
At times, things are so imbalanced as to be totally demoralizing. Risen 2 cruelly sets the player up to fail. Fancy challenging the first NPC you meet to a training duel? Expect him to kick your ass, using moves you won't be able to utilize yourself for hours. Expect him to whittle your health down to a sliver, which will you'll have to heal yourself. Expect that small mercy to be lacking from the less empathetic creatures waiting outside. Oh, and expect to save before and after every single fight, and sometimes in between.
Speaking of amusing, Risen 2's idea of what is and isn't an acceptable joke raises an eyebrow at times. I'm all for tasteless gags, but some of the dialog in this game may cross the boundaries of acceptably risqué patter and fall firmly into offensive territory. One early quest involves trying to force your companion into a kitchen job for no other reason than she's "a woman." Later on, characters openly refer to black natives as "spearchuckers" (a racist term in Europe) while several homophobic jokes crop up. One can argue that these characters are steeped in a world of piracy and such ignorance is expected, of course, though the fact that the comments are regularly presented in a matter-of-fact manner, with absolutely no sense of criticism or complaint, and sometimes come from the hero's own mouth, remains faintly alarming. It wasn't enough to offend me personally, but I certainly was surprised and I'd recommend those with rawer nerves keep their shields up.
Risen 2: Dark Waters is a difficult game to review, because I want to express how much I enjoyed myself in spite of the mountains of criticism that it quite rightly deserves. It's unnecessarily mean-spirited, it demands an immense amount of the player's time before it hits its stride, and the whole thing's potentially offensive to boot. All that said, when it finally opens up and lets the player have fun, Risen 2 has hours upon hours of legitimately enjoyable gameplay on offer. The frustration of getting trapped in the corner by a faster opponent never lets up, but once players get strong enough to soak it up and hit back, the feeling of relief and vindication is remarkable. All told, you'll get over thirty hours of pirate-flavored silliness that will brutalize you, then make you feel good inside.
What Piranha Bytes has developed could have been a thoroughly supreme game, one that could have gone toe to toe with the heavyweights of action role-playing. Due to a number of highly questionable design decisions, however, a lot of that potential has withered away. With so much lost, it's perhaps a testament to how talented the team secretly is that Risen 2 is still packed with fun in the face of truly inhibiting setbacks.
The author admits to not having been able to finish the original Risen, by the way, due to its "awkward navigation system, reliance on ambushes, and general imbalance."
You can read the full review here.