The Average Gamer

Risen 3 Impressions (PC)

Risen 3 is a lovely old-school RPG where you run around pocketing everything, fighting everything and talking to everyone with your weirdly faux-deep voice. I think perhaps the voice actor for the main character was attempting to channel Batman but it’s so obviously unnatural that it just comes across as really awkward.

I’m not calling this a full review because the game is huge and I’m probably only about halfway through it after 12 or so hours. I’ve only just committed to the mage Guardian faction and there’s plenty to do before you have to make a final decision between them and the Demon Hunters. There are some half-a-dozen islands to explore. None of them are very big but each one is packed with dozens of quests, many of which involve their own sub-quests on other islands. It’s a hand-crafted RPG so go off the beaten path and you’ll probably find something interesting. I climbed over a cliff just to get a better view of the harbour and found a cache of gold and a spyglass that someone had obviously been using to keep track of the incoming ships.

You can clear quests without knowing they’re even there, so don’t be afraid to explore caves and odd houses. Once you meet the NPC quest-giver, you can hand them straight in, saving you an awful lot of time. Many quests also have multiple ways to complete them, often by using a skill, beating someone up, bribing or that old standby – the fetch quest.

Combat is awful until you learn the riposte skill from an instructor, so I suggest doing that as soon as humanly possible. You can roll around excitingly and swing your blade in a dramatic manner but an upredictable attack range, losing the target when you roll to dodge and slow recovery from all moves ruins any attempt at tactics.

  • Risen 3 - CaladorYour companions are next to useless in a fight except as a distraction while you wind up a powerful strike or shovel rum and provisions into your face for instantaneous healing. The full wind-up for power attacks is so long and the benefit is so small that you’re better off just doing a bunch of small ones. Having riposte does at least give you some options.

    As you kill creatures and complete quests, you earn Glory, which is somewhat like XP. Rather than levelling up in any traditional manner, you spend Glory to level up specific abilities, which get more expensive as you go. Learning skills from trainers will boost the amount of ability increase per level, so make your decisions early and stick with them. A typical large enemy or quest will give you around 200 glory, but by the time you get to mid-range skills you’re looking at spending 5000 per level.

    These skills cover everything: melee combat, ranged combat, off-hand pistols and throwing knives that can unbalance a defending opponent, magic, intimidation, pickpocketing, persuasion (silver tongue) and more. You can build your character however you like – it’s entirely up to you to balance your spending accordingly.

    You’ll find as you go that you pick up flowers, plates, tankards and all sorts of crap. Some of this is useful for the various crafting options, some isn’t. It’s impossible to tell until you get into the crafting but since you can carry an infinite amount of crap, this isn’t really a problem. On each of the islands, you can find a treasure map with a stash of gold, so money isn’t too much of a problem to buy items if you’ve sold something that you need later on.

    One thing I noticed as my ship began to fill up with companions is that Risen 3 is a dude-heavy zone. It starts out with you and your sister, sure. As you carry on, you pretty much meet male soldiers, male mages, male demon hunters and the occasional nagging wife or tavern wench. On the bright side, they don’t talk by waggling their hips, like some of the ludricrously-animated women of Risen 2, but it’s still a bit weird.

    There are also a few interface design issues, most notably in trade. When you want to sell or buy something, you queue it up in a trade and it disappears from the menu. Your gold is deducted or increased, but the trade isn’t actually confirmed until you click the Accept Trade button. This would be quite a good design decision except that your trade queue isn’t actually visible anywhere. It’s all too easy to accidentally purchase an extra weapon that you never wanted and not realise until after you’ve commited.

    Those aside, Risen 3 is a solid RPG with an amazing amount of freedom. Everywhere you go, you’ll meet characters with their own stories to tell and you can make plenty of choices on how to help them. If you can get over the clunky combat, there’s a lot to enjoy.

    Risen 3 is out on PS3, Xbox 360 and OC from Friday.