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Review RPG Codex Review: Risen 3: Titan Lords

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Piranha Bytes; Risen 3: Titan Lords

It is something of a Codex tradition to have the esteemed community member Darth Roxor review Piranha Bytes' Risen titles. In this article, he shares his (mostly negative) thoughts on Risen 3: Titan Lords, concluding with the following rumination on the state of the Piranha Bytes of today:

To sum up my final impression of both Risen 3 and Piranha Bytes as a whole, I’d like to quote my very good friend Boethius:

But we will still speak concerning the nature of men, and concerning their pursuits. Though, then, their mind and their nature be now dimmed, and they are by that fall sunk down to evil, and thither inclined, yet they are desirous, so far as they can and may, of the highest good. As a drunken man knows that he should go to his house, and to his rest, and yet is not able to find the way thither, so is it also with the mind, when it is weighed down by the anxieties of this world.

That is the state of Piranha Bytes today, in a nutshell. They know that they must return to the old Gothic formula, and hell, they probably even want to do it, but they simply have no idea how. They grasp at the ideas and elements that were present in their most successful games, they announce that they are "going back to the roots", and they even attempt to fix the flaws that they've introduced, but they are not able to put those changes and fixes into proper context, nor design the same systems that once made them great. Thus, the final product is but a warped shadow of its original counterpart, a haphazardly glued-together Frankenstein’s monster that might be made of similar flesh, but can never be even one tenth as functional or “alive”.

Unfortunately, I doubt they will ever reach their past greatness again. This is made apparent both by the quality of their last two games, and by comparing the credits of Gothic 2 and Risen 3. Hell, even comparing Risen 1 to Risen 3 should be enough to draw the necessary conclusions.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Risen 3: Titan Lords
 

Murk

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I remember reading the list of features when they first came out.

I remember feeling hope.

Now, all I remember is the feeling of disappointment.

I'll be in the restroom with my Gothic 2 Gold disc. I'll be a while.
 

Lord Andre

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Good review. The whole game I had a feeling that they tried their hardest but just couldn't make it happen. 2-3 talented people in key positions on the developing team could have turned this around but those people were nowhere to be found...With all the talented veterans gone from the team some fresh blood might be their only hope.

Also, the retarded medium sized island system imposed by the consoles' limitation, will forever hold back their games no matter how good the iteration is.
 

cvv

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Liked this review a lot. From other texts and videos I've read and seen I suspect I'd find a few more redeeming qualities, being a massive PB fan, but apart from that Roxor sounds spot on.

It's such a fucking, soul-crushing shame, the state PB sunk into and probably will never emerge from ever again. From Gothic 1 all the way to Risen 1 - what a great developer. Those four games are probably the only action-combat RPGs I consider unreservedly fantastic. Gothic 1 with one of the best settings/plots, Gothic 2 NotR with the best hand-crafted world ever and one of the best character progression mechanics, Gothic 3 with the best, freest, most awesome and most ambitious open world in the genre and Risen 1 with the second best melee combat ever (after Dark Souls).

And then the fucking third person cinematic cutscene-ridden console action-adventure that is Risen 2 (although I admit, it did sort of scratch the PB itch, the combat wasn't as atrocious as it's made out to be and the writing was indeed good). And now this Frankenstein monstrosity... sigh.

But you know what, the era of the prehistoric consoles is waning and it seems open world rises from ashes. For the past decade PB was the only dev willing and able to give us the open world RPG fix. But now with DAI, W3, Kingdom Come, maybe Cyberpunk and others it seems other devs are stepping up to fill the hole. Plus I still don't write Piranha Bytes completely off, although a miraculous recovery from such a fall from the grace is rare. We can hope though.
 

ghostdog

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Where are those goddamned veterans anyway ? Come together and kickstart a gothic clone you bastards !
 

Blaine

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Fantastic write-up by Roxor, but the game can be summed up in one picture:

050dbe95d2.png
 

Volourn

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"Also, it’s sad how tremendous of a nosedive Piranha Bytes' writing quality has taken."

PB's strength has never been writing. I'd describe the Gothics' writing as functional and pedestrian at best.

Their strength is open worlds. That's it.
 

Darth Roxor

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PB's strength has never been writing. I'd describe the Gothics' writing as functional and pedestrian at best.

Ayup.

And yet it still took a nosedive. That's just bad it is.
 

mindx2

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Really informative write-up Darth Roxor! Now post something so you can receive your well earned brofists... :hero:

It is sad to see such a decline from PB. Gothic 2 is still to this day a great game that I sunk many many hours into and it's "world" seemed so alive and dangerous. I couldn't wait to explore it's secrets. Reading this kind of reminded me of playing the last two Ultimas... that feeling that something had gone terribly wrong with one of my favorite game series... :(
 
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Kinda sad to see, but I've lost hope in Piranha Bytes since Gothic 3. I love the first two Gothic games as much as any RPG that I've ever played, but 3 was a major step down, and that just continued (with maybe slight reversal with Risen 1). You don't really see studios come back strong once they lose their mojo too often. For those of us looking for more of that Gothic magic, I think it will have to be delivered by another studio. I have some hopes for KCD in that regard.
 

Murk

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I thought Risen 1 had good writing. Not great, but good. Not only was it solid and functional, it helped characterize the factions and individuate the NPCs as actual personas.

For instance, talking to Jan or Scordo had them give compelling arguments for why they are bandits and what they hope to achieve; likewise with the Don. This of course is just 'their spin' on the situation, but it was enough to make the player actually question whether the inquisition is here to do good or here to benefit themselves.

Anyway, a shame.
 

Jasede

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Even in the native German the writing was certainly nothing special. It was exactly as Volourn described it.
(The original German voice-acting, on the other hand, was great.)
 

Blaine

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Bear in mind too that there's absolutely no way to get constructive criticism to any of these people.

Developers lately can't bear to read "hateful Internet negativity" without getting depressed and angry, possibly throwing a Twitter tantrum, and perhaps even ragequitting game development entirely. Even if they could, there will surely be the requisite battalion of true believers on their forums et al.

...Probably. I'm not sure what the target audience is for this game, other than desperate Gothic fans and whoever else bought it because of the cover art.
 

sser

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Interesting review. I guess I'll wait for the $5 sale.

The game seems like it's trying to craft some sort of bizarre fusion of ideas from across PB’s catalogue on its islands – Calador kind of resembles Gothic 2 in its gritty medieval style, Taranis is a throwback to Risen 1’s inquisition and mages, Kila and Antigua are all about voodoo and pirates, and the returning Tacarigua brings back the “colonial” inquisition from Risen 2. It’s just schizophrenic, like a theme park of unrelated concepts and leftover ideas fused into one.

I haven't played the game (obviously), but this totally nailed my confusion over it. When it was in previews I kept seeing more of a Gothic, medieval look. Made me happy to see as I prefer that kind of thing, but now that people are posting screenshots of them playing it there's pirates and parrots and muskets again.
 

MicoSelva

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I was hoping for a funnier interview, but still good job, Darth Roxor, Wielder of the Huegpenis and Protector From the Decline. :salute:

I will probably still buy it when it hits Humble Bundle price point, if I manage to finish Risen 2 by then.
 

Unkillable Cat

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I think I've found the best part about Risen 3's release.

Thanks for a great review, despite how depressing and disappointing it is in regards to the current state of Piranha Bytes.
 

agris

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Even in the native German the writing was certainly nothing special. It was exactly as Volourn described it.
(The original German voice-acting, on the other hand, was great.)
Yep, and I think you could play G1/2 with German VO and all text in english.

edit: though I would add to Volourn's post by saying that the melee combat system was fun and unique for 3d ARPGs of that era, and I still enjoy having to re-learn enemy styles and timings when I replay it.

Kinda sad to see, but I've lost hope in Piranha Bytes since Gothic 3. I love the first two Gothic games as much as any RPG that I've ever played, but 3 was a major step down, and that just continued (with maybe slight reversal with Risen 1). You don't really see studios come back strong once they lose their mojo too often. For those of us looking for more of that Gothic magic, I think it will have to be delivered by another studio. I have some hopes for KCD in that regard.
What? What is this "gothic 3" you speak of?
 

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