Risen 3: Titan Lords

risen3

For possibly the largest and most expansively open Piranha Bytes game to date, my review of Risen 3 is going to be short and sweet. Why? Because there just isn’t much to say about it besides “go buy it.” Yes, I’m a lifelong PB fan; my teens and early twenties were spent playing the Gothic games. Yes, I tell anyone who cares to listen how the original Risen is better than Skyrim (for the things I value in an RPG, anyway). But those recommendations always come with the caveat of, “Beware, the combat is weird at first,” or, “True, Risen 2 starts pretty slowly and takes about ten hours to really open up.” But with Risen 3, there are no caveats. This isn’t just a great RPG in my own mind, where I ignore the rough edges and focus on what I love about it. This is just a great RPG, period, full stop.

 

If you’ve been following along with the series so far, the beginning is slightly jarring, as you’re suddenly inhabiting a different character than that of the two previous games. You play a hitherto unmentioned son of Captain Steelbeard, brother of series-regular, Patty. It seems a little strange to start with a character that everyone seems to know and talk to like he’s a well-established part of the universe but…he’s not, until this game. And then there’s his voice. In what is probably the single worst decision the developers made with this game, your new Nameless One’s voice is about the most cliched, gravely, cool-aloof “hero voice” I’ve ever heard. Think Jason Statham but less charismatic. Over the dozens of hours playing, I finally grew to accept to this eye-rolling attribute, but it never really sits well.

The plot of Risen 3 continues the saga of the battle against the Titans. This time around, it’s not altogether clear who the true enemy is at first. All you know is that during one of your pirate-y treasure hunting adventures, you stumble on some terrifying evil and have your soul sucked out of you (which has the practical effect of sapping all of your pirate captain badass-itude, plunking you back down to weakling status). From there, you must island hop, meeting the various factions that are working to stop this new evil from enveloping the Southern Seas. The mention of a pirate-themed beginning is sure to ruffle some feathers (pun intended), given that Risen 2’s pirate focus didn’t sit well with long-time fans. Still, after the intro, you aren’t so much a pirate anymore as merely a lone drifter.

 

The one thing that PB nailed in this new Risen is diversity of tone/theme. Each of the three faction (Mages, Voodoo Pirates and Demon Hunters), along with their islands, feel totally unique and fitting. These are all caribbean-esque islands, so of course they all have their share of palm trees and rocky bluffs. But it’s as if each faction/island combo is a retrospective of past PB games. The Demon Hunters resemble the dark, brooding nature of the old prison camp dwellers from Gothic; their island contains the same kind of rolling hills and valleys, ancient cathedral-type ruins, and flowing lava you would find in those older games. The Mages harken back to the first Risen, with their medieval armor and robes, seeking to tame (and exploit) a more tropical environment. And of course, the Voodoo Pirates are very much a continuation of the feel from Risen 2 – dense jungle teeming with primitive natives, outcast pirates and ancient tribal magic.

 

Unlike in previous PB games, where the factions seemed to always fall along a pure-melee, pure-magic, and a melee-magic hybrid gameplay decision, Risen 3 says “have your cake and eat it too!” All paths contain equal parts magic, melee and ranged, if you so choose. You would think that being a Mage means you’re the standard glass cannon, but not so! Along with shiny armor, you can use guns, find mage-specific fencing swords, and even master “melee magic” (attack spells that are equipped and used like short-range weapons).

So then, the Demon Hunters are all about melee combat, right? Certainly their look and magic is geared towards brute force (strength and speed buffing spells), but then they also get limited access to melee magic and shadow minion summoning. Even telekinesis, an ability you would think very specific to the Mages, is a skill you can learn as a Demon Hunter. Lastly, the same pattern holds true for the Voodoo Pirates. Their magic revolves around necromancy and life draining, but you have just as much versatility to make a knife-throwing, axe-wielding terror. Since every faction has decent access to most magic and skills, it allows you to pick the faction you like within the context of the game, for roleplaying reasons, without having to give up the gameplay you want to experience. No two Risen 3 characters will play and end up the same. And hell, even if you grow attached to a particular spell from another faction’s arsenal, feel free to craft and scavenge a whole bunch of single-use scrolls to supplement your innate magic.

 

Here’s something you’ve probably never heard from someone playing a Piranha Bytes game: I really dug the writing. Not only does the plot contain a few legitimate surprises, but the characters are all surprisingly fleshed out. I often found myself honestly torn between who I should take with me to explore this or that island. Edward would be fun with his no-nonsense, “get your shit together” attitude (he actually expresses that sentiment often while you’re conversing with people), but Bones’ wry sense of observational humor would have me softly chuckling more often than not. And they aren’t just static murder machines, either. If you join the faction of your favorite companion, they will come along for the ride. Edward may start out as a vest-wearing, arrogant prick, but the Demon Hunters will eventually shave his head and he’ll don the appropriate armor along with you. Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah, joining a faction also fundamentally changes how your character looks. I know, pretty cool, huh? You don’t get story-driven character-altering decisions in Skyrim. Also, Demon Hunters use a blink-teleportation instead of a normal dodge (squeal of nerdy delight). Okay, enough of that gushing diversion.

 

The combat, with the small but impactful addition of a dodge-roll function, is by far the most lively system PB has ever made. Whereas in Gothics 1, 2 and Risen, your character’s feet felt like they were stuck in mud while you fought, here, you’ll be constantly flipping and flying all over the place to avoid getting surrounded. The one thing I do miss is the extra bit of timing/tactics that used to be available for things like parrying blows and riposting. Still, when given the choice, I’ll take nimble and kinetic over stagnant and methodical any day. Leave the sitting and thinking for strategy games. And in the case of magic attacks, gone are the days of mana (cooldowns are new hotness) so, magic ends up being much more spontaneous and much less potion-drink-y.

One last magic-ish ability that you receive right at the start of the game is Astral Vision. For the first third of the game, you’ll probably forget that it exists but once you join a faction, you can start upgrading it with various skills that allow you to spot people, enemies, treasures and plants from great distances and even through walls. Is it necessary to the gameplay? Not at all. But damned if it isn’t a really cool add-on mechanic. It’s Risen’s magical version of Splinter Cell’s thermal vision goggles.

 

Finally, let’s talk polish, something that Piranha Bytes has been struggling with for their entire existence. It’s near perfect. Huh, I guess this is going to be a pretty short paragraph. Indeed, I didn’t run in to a single major flaw (bug, progression-halter, mysterious falling-through-the-world death, etc.) in 50+ hours of playing. The only thing I noted was that one line of my character’s spoken dialogue seemed to be missing. That’s it. For fans of the Gothic and Risen series, this is downright shocking. Shocking, but extremely welcome, if for no other reason than we can finally say, “Nope, Risen 3 was not a mess at launch. It worked beautifully!”

 

If you haven’t already decided to buy the game while you’ve been reading this review, I’m not sure what else I can really say to convince you. For every reason I play RPGs (big decisions, interesting characters, fun gameplay, immersive exploration), Risen 3 hits every sweet spot. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to start planning out my Voodoo Pirate run-through!

 

92%

 

Reviewed By: Brian Mardiney
Publisher: Deep Silver
Rating: 92%

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This review is based on a digital copy of Risen 3: Titan Lords for the PC provided by Deep Silver.

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Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

22 Comments on “Risen 3: Titan Lords

  1. There is no way this is an actual review. It’s a paid ad. The game is the worst pos I have played in years.

    • You would be wrong. I’m just a PB fan. My bias is clear but I’m as fair as I can be.

    • Game is great, had more fun on this than I did any of the fables, skyrim or two worlds1/2.

  2. Thank you for this review Brian,

    from a PB fan for PB games fans.
    Glad to hear things are working out in this game, more so than Risen 2 which honestly even as a die hard fan of PB games i was disappointed with.

    Greetings

    • Thanks for the kind words. That’s exactly what this review is – from a PB fan, to PB fans.

  3. Here is what I think based on my first few hours
    -The combat system is awful I never played Risen 2 but this one is just painfully shit especially the melee, the musket seems OP
    -Instant healing in combat
    -The main plot is dull and boring
    -Voice acting is shit overall the main character sounds like someone with throat cancer
    -Quests are decent (far from great), you can find some consequences based on your decision. There are some MMORPG like quests where you have to collect some stuff and than you have to bring it back to the quest giver.
    -The islands are small it’s possible to find some hidden items and lots of locked chests but you need lock picks (which is not too common..) and high level lock picking skill.

    @yanna If you don’t like PB games you should try Skyrim.

  4. A paid ad it is indeed and one that is on metacritic as well.

    Theres no way anyone could rate this above 70% even with love for Gothic.

    The game is an exact copy of the risen 2 engine that was already frickin outdated when Risen 2 was released. Problems that existed with previous games are still there i.e. BUGS! There is no Innovation here, nothing new or groundbreaking at all. Crysis 1 (as in the original) looked better than this.

    They even used the exact same menu for Christ’s sake.

    92% ??? Really? Bitch please…

    • Please tell me the bug you encountered. I didn’t run into a single one.

  5. Good review, the game is alot of fun, not perfect but the best Risen game yet and PB’s best game since Gothic 2 imo. Once you level up you’re combat at trainers the combat becomes alot better, also its great that magic is back now to.

  6. Thanks for your review, I really enjoyed reading it. I hope it’ll have the same effect on me, I really prefer all three Gothics over the Risen-series but I’m really looking forward to play this game!

    Greetings from Germany! :)

    • Greetings! Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, if you liked the Gothics, you’ll get a kick out of the Demon Hunter faction.

  7. Great Game!! But… All the fun begins when you join the faction and learn magic!

  8. 10 hours into game and really like it. Big fan of Gothic and risen games. I hope they continue to get support and publish these games!

  9. Awesome review. This really is one of the best RPGs I have ever played. The combat starts slow and then really opens up and becomes a blast. It seems that everyone blasting the game in this comments section never played it and is just regurgitating what other idiots such as angry joe have said. I haven’t run into one bug and I’m 10 hours in. The islands are huge, so I have no idea what another person posting they are tiny on here is talking about. It’s amazing that if a review doesn’t align with a persons views it’s either a paid ad or just for hits. I really hope this does sell well because it would be awesome to see a next gen title. I absolutely love exploring and finding all the good stuff in corners. This game actually rewards exploration.

  10. Liked this game a lot and a big fan of PB, but I would like to point out few pretty strong points the author has missed.
    - The rolling dodge system completely screws the combat system and makes this game ridiculously easy. Once i rolled through half of the map with a bunch of mobs on my tail to a city where guards kicked their arse. Can’t even start to describe how dum it looked. This makes most fights a waiting game. You wait while your companion gets aggro – hit 2 times – roll away from the hit – repeat the cycle.
    - they tried too hard to make references to their old gothic series to the point where it looked like they are deliberately trying to win over their fans from the ages past with cheap tricks. Lighthouse keeper Jack and bar guard Moe. B*** please.
    - the last but not the least – pirate theme = stale, so stale…
    Loved games’ visuals, the old gothic vibe with many hidden imba items waiting for you to find.
    P.S. – one bug i personally encountered is a quest to find a shimmering pearl on Kila. There is a chance none of the shells will contain quest item making this quest impossible to complete.

    • I didn’t miss those points :) I liked the dodging and I felt it made combat better, not worse. Difference of opinion there.

      Jack the lighthouse keeper was in Risen 2. But yes, PB regained the rights to the Gothic franchise and it’s obvious they wanted to splash some Gothic goodness into Risen (Dragon Snappers, Scavengers, Moe). I have a theory that the “king” of Risen’s old world (before Risen 1 starts) that dies when the gods are banished is, in fact, the main hero from Gothic. And the gods that they banished were Innos, Addanos and Beliar. That’s just my cute theory :p

      Yeah, I get that people are tired of pirates. But for better or worse, pirates have always been a pretty big part of Risen (even the first game). It’s a Caribbean-esque world they’ve built. However, Calador does a pretty good job of giving more of that Gothic, “German forests and plains” feel.

  11. The author played in some other risen 3 then other players, nice review on non existent game.

  12. I’m a huge fan of PB too, and although I think 92% is a bit much considering how this is is more or less a slightly improved and polished version of Risen 2, I think Titan Lords is a really good title. I always dug the idea of clunky combat in an RPG game at the beginning with the character progressively getting better, i.e. stronger, faster, and generally more deadly. The combat in this game doesn’t even start out literally slow, just simple. In any case, those who never played the game and are basing their opinion of it off of a “YouTube review” of some Internet celebrity are ridiculous – even if you don’t like PB games – get Risen 3 on a first sale and you won’t regret it.

    All in all, nice review Brian, though your fanboyism may have influenced the final score a bit much. Cheers.

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