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3.8 out of 5 stars
Risen (PC DVD)
Platform: PCChange
Price:£9.99+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2009
I had a look at the reviews as well. They did little to persuade me to purchase this game, since, while positive overall, they did mention a lot of negatives. Howerver, since I enjoyed some of the previous games by these developers, and as I did feel like playing a good old fashioned RPG again, I decided to give this game a go, after all. And I must say... it is simply lovely.

This is a real RPG. One that gives you plenty of freedom, has depth, has character development that makes a big difference, and that will involve you for a long time. It is, of course, quite combat-focussed, but the combat is not frantic. In a game like this, you can rush into things, but really, it is ideal for those who like to take things carefully and go about their gaming with a degree of deliberation.

Sure, the main character is fixed, there is a lot of gritty combat, and delving into swamps, running through bushes and delving into caves. And it is all quote 'manly' (like the Gothic series, of which the first managed to have a large cast without a single female character). Yet, at the same time, it is quite enchanting and athmospheric. The story makes sense (within the genre, at least), the many gruf characters are decently voice-acted and likable enough. Sure, the story and quests are a bit less complex than, say, the Witcher, Kotor or Oblivion, but it makes sense, most of the time. The world feels quite alive. Reviewers complained about dated graphics, though they did admit it did not look bad. But who cares if it is 'dated' somehow? It looks really good, often breath-taking. The landscape looks quite natural, the weather is really well done and brings a lot of athmosphere. In short... it is a very immersive game.

Reviewers also complained about quirky combat. I disagree. The fighting is quite well done and exciting, especially, although it can be challenging. But that IS sort of the point of games like these. It also makes sense, isn't overly complex (like the Witcher) and requires some skill (unlike Oblivion and Kotor).

In short, this is really the sort of RPG that lovers of the genre will like very much, provided they do not mind playing a likable but somewhat unremarkable nameless hero that they cannot customize. Within it's genre, this is the best game I have seen in quite a while. Don't believe the magazines. This game wasn't hyped, and without hype (and favours to editorial staff members) games get poor reviews, it seems. Don't be misled: this one is a gem.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2010
Risen is a third person fantasy role playing game from the team that developed the Gothic series. I've never played that series so cannot comment on the similarities. It is very open world in the style of Oblivion although the island on which it is set does not have the same sense of scale. The skill tree is nice and clear and simple, experience points determine when the character levels and monsters do not level up with the character (as happened in the vanilla Oblivion). In this respect, and it the look of many of the environments it is similar to The Witcher. The game is very difficult in the early stages which I notice has drawn some criticism from commentators who also stated that combat was unsatisfactory. I found these aspects consistent with the RPG style - in the beginning you are a weak character and are not very good at fighting so it feels awkward. As you progress you unlock additional combat moves and combat becomes pretty fluid and varied. You cannot button mash - you must time your attacks to suit the tactics of your adversaries. The good news is that unlike many recent games there is a conventional quicksave function which I used often. If this game used the checkpoint system it could have been unplayable in the early stages. I disabled the autosave in the config file as I felt it was unnecessary and kept breaking immersion. The game is fairly short for an RPG - I completed it in fifty hours which is way shorter than many. The character of the protagonist is not developed (we do not even know his name). By contrast in The Witcher I got to like Geralt, the eponymous hero, which added to the feel of the game.

I played with all the settings on their highest at 1920x1200 resolution apart from turning off ambient occlusion and soft shadows in the config file (they ruin framerates and seem to make little visible difference). With vsync enabled in the Forceware control panel (there is no option in-game) the game ran very smoothly on my GTX 285 at framerates in the high fifties. Given this is an open world game with fairly detailed textures and large environments this is quite impressive. I also noticed an absence of loading pauses as you traversed those large environments which I found very annoying in Oblivion and Fallout 3. I noticed from FRAPS that the game used up to 850MB of VRAM which suggests you may get stuttering with a 512MB graphics card. Despite some environments looking very good, particularly the swamp areas, there were problems with the graphics. Some of the textures used for distant scenery were very poor and incredibly blurry. The pop-in in outdoor areas was terrible - I tried increasing the view range in the config file but it did not seem to do much apart from drop the framerate. The character models, particularly the faces, were dreadful. I could not understand this as the various monsters in the game were very detailed and realistic but most of the humans were quite awful and looked dated by at least ten years. I am currently revisiting Half Life 2 from 2004 and the faces of the characters are superb compared to this. Finally I have never seen such bad clipping in a game. My hero spent most of the game with his two-handed sword, which was supposed to be strapped across his back, actually sticking out of his right shoulder.

The game was unusual for an RPG in that you did not select your character class at the start but became either a bandit (fighter/thief), inquisitor (fighter/mage) or true mage depending on which of the island factions you sided with. I played a bandit but these can still use magic and craft scrolls and I enjoyed the variety. Monsters were quite plentiful and varied and the game has a similar crafting system for making arms and magic items to Oblivion and an alchemy system for brewing magic potions very similar to The Witcher. The best feature of the game in my view was the dungeons which were dark and scary and full of traps. The storyline begins well - the world is being ripped apart by storms and strange temples are rising all over the island (hence the title Risen). However the story does not seem to develop logically - it is almost as if the scriptwriters decided to alter the plot half way through but forgot to rewrite the earlier parts. The result is a confusing mess of a story which culminates in an extremely tedious and largely unexplained boss fight. Perhaps a sequel will clarify matters.

Some commentators have complained of the number of bugs in the game. However after applying the 1.10 patch (approx. 175MB) I think most have been fixed. I found one sidequest where the name of a cow inexplicably changed (hardly gamebreaking) and there were a couple of quests I completed which stayed in the current section of the quest log. Overall I quite enjoyed Risen but the game could have been so much more satisfying if the story were more logical and the graphical problems cured, particularly the awful character faces. If you like games such as The Witcher you should like Risen too but I think it is not as good in terms of its looks or storytelling.

Hope this helps.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2009
For anyone who liked the Gothic series, you can't go wrong. The similarities are in every aspect of the game and has proved to be very stable, unlike Gothic 3 and the abysmal Forsaken Gods.

This is a nicely polished game with plenty of quests and plenty of action if you want it, or run if not. Combat is hard at the beginning though, but well worth persevering, especially with the great storyline and the quality of graphics. If you are not strong enough to take on a boar, take it on later when you are. This is my one gripe with Oblivion, everything levels up with you, for example - you can still be killed by a mud crab whatever the level you are.

Great ending to the game and lots of hidden caves and areas around the island. The times I explored an area and jumped out of my skin when one of those dark Ghouls attacked me, they are tough, let alone the Ashbeasts and Ogres.

There are cheats for this game for those that find the game too difficult, just like all the Gothic series, but personally, there is a lot more fun to overcoming the game without. So saying I found several small bugs whereby enemies got stuck in the scenery allowing me to take them out with ranged attacks whereas I would have been too weak otherwise early on in the game. Another bug which allows you to accumulate gold and experience is a quest in the bandit camp whereby you collect weeds for the farmer, at the top of the camp where there is a damn and lake. You get 70 gold and experience for supplying 10 weed. If you belt the farmer a few times, he goes down and gets up a few moments later. If you stole his weeds from him while he was down you can now sell them back to him with no repercussions.

Overall I loved the game and spent too much time in completing it when I should have spent more time with my family. Replayable too, because you can choose between factions to become a mage or fighter or combination choosing the mage path.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 October 2009
Played on windows vista64.

Those of you that have played the Gothic game series (a lesser known yet hardcore RPG series), of which i recently completed myself Gothic 2 Gold Edition &Gothic 3 . This break away series, Risen, is made by the developers, Pirana Bytes, of those previous Gothic titles. They signed over the rights to Gothic 4 Arcania to JOWood & Spellbound for that one game, in order to make this Risen series, so don't worry, PB still own the rights to Gothic, so we have plenty of future prospects with Gothic & Risen.

The story of Risen is an interesting one, you play from a 3rd person perspective, a ship wreck survivor in a fantasy world with magic, swords & sorcery, who washes up on an island, an island with troubles. Eventually you will learn about the factions on the island, and have to pick a side that you want to fight for out of 3 factions to choose from. Which are the Warriors of the Order, Mages or Bandits. No matter which faction you choose the story incorporates your choice's very well as you see a different side to the same tale, which adds some replayabiltiy there. As you complete quests and slay enemies, you are given "learning points" which you can then use to customize your characters class as you see fit, with the use of strength, dexterity, mana, swords, axes, staffs, alchemy, smithing(incl.goldsmithing), prospecting ore, gutting animals, archery, crossbow, pick locks, pickpocket, acrobatics, sneak & more. Other Gothic-esque traits appear eg. No control over your characters facial appearance. Gold is important for learning skills from trainers. Dig up loot. Mine ore. Pick plants. Interact with NPC's and engage in conversation dialogue, some critical ones can have various response options. Cooking food. lockpicking etc...

Visually the game isn't mind blowing but looks good for the genre, the shadows and especially the lighting effects of entering and leaving caves/temples is pretty realistic, along with the reflections of your armor etc... The audio is also very good, although there are a few glitches when sound doesn't play, although this is very rare i found. The voice acting is excellent overall, but you will hear quite a few of the same voices on different characters in similar vain to a game like Oblivion, however the main characters are unique with the voice talent of well known actors such as John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones) who voices the bandit leader & Andy Serkis (Gollum from LOTR's) is also a lead character voice. It is a little distracting, but doesn't ruin the game experience.

In conclusion, this unique style of RPG approach requires allot of patience to enjoy it, so it won't be too everyone's taste. It's more suited for those who enjoy learning about the game world from long conversations, investigating peoples backstories, taking your time to explore & build your character etc... The out the box vanilla version of Risen, is of a high quality, and having just completed it myself, i am already looking forward to another play through, with a new character build. Certainly looking forward to Risen 2. Recommended.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2009
Risen is the new game from Piranha Bytes, the developers of the excellent (but at times horrifically buggy) Gothic series of games. Their most recent effort, Gothic 3, was infamous for the sheer number of bugs present at release and also the abysmally poor optimisation, resulting in a game that chugged even on the most powerful of machines.

Have they learned from their past mistakes? Yes. Yes, they have. The world overall is considerably smaller than that of the Gothic games, but the engine's much improved and the bugs virtually eliminated. At least, I'm now 20 hours into the game and have yet to encounter any. The game itself is relatively pretty, with some of the environmental effects in particular standing out as impressive.

For anyone familiar with the Gothic series, there won't be much new in the mechanics of Risen. Once again, you begin as a simple castaway completely lacking in skills or survivability, and you gradually build your character until he (sorry, women and those who prefer female characters -- once again, you're stuck with a single character to play) is more than capable of taking down the foes that populate the island, of which there are many. The appalling level-scaling mechanic present in games like Oblivion and Fallout 3 is thankfully absent here, too.

The combat system can be really quite unforgiving, and survival at lower levels can be extremely difficult, with even the ambient fauna able to kill you within seconds, but put a little effort into learning the game's mechanics and building your character and you'll rapidly get past this initial hurdle.

In short, this is an excellent RPG, and anyone who likes games such as Gothic or Neverwinter Nights (2) should certainly give its purchase some consideration. It isn't entirely without its flaws -- I'd personally have preferred rather more options involving choice and consequence, but it's certainly far more open than many recently-released RPGs and an extremely pleasant old-school jaunt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2009
This is a realy interesting game overall. It does have (too much) similarities in gameplay with gothic3, but as it have a diferent fantasy style it manages to overcome that lack of originality most of the time.

Bad points:

- Some bugs. Not many, but some. Be prepared to sometimes be standing on top of an invisible ledge, or fall down from somewhere and be frozen in place.

- Be warned the game has a steep hardware requirement. You can play it with a mediocre computer, but you WILL complain about graphics. The game only looks good in near-max quality settings.

- Class system is somewhat restrictive.

- Gear Upgrade system is lacking on the armor part - Dont expect a lot of stat upgrades in armor.

Good points:

- Lots of variety in professions
- Interesting quests / Story
- Very chalenging combat for most people
- Very good voice acting (except perhaps the main character sometimes)
- Fun dialog
- Well balanced dificulty in the environment mobs

For a new RPG player, this game might be a little too hard in the start and you might feel lost. If you are a RPG veteran you will feel right at home and realy enjoy the exploration and feel chalenged by every enemy encounter.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 December 2009
The Gothic series had more bugs than a soft-drink spill in a hot summer day. These games had great potential as First/Third-Person RPGs but the quality control problems was what prevented the series from ever becoming Morrowind. And what is worse, the game developer (Piranha Bytes) did not learn from its mistakes: as the series progressed, the problems only got worse.

So notorious had the GOTHIC series become that the name itself was all but abandoned. RISEN is what GOTHIC 3 was supposed to be (a GOTHIC 3.5 if you will) and GOTHIC 4 will actually be named..."ArcaniA: A Gothic Tale"!. Although it was not completely able to escape its pedigree and it may not be at the cutting edge of developments, RISEN is a good game and it is (mostly) fun to play.

You start off a castaway with no history but endless potential. There is some wreckage loot but do not get too greedy: veering off to far into the sea will bring a sea monster upon you.
The progress is slow at the beginning and your character's initial weakness will tax your patience: expect quite a few deaths early on. However, if you weather out the initial steep incline you will be rewarded with a great cRPG that unfolds as you go on.

The graphics are not top drawer but the environments are very tastefully made. And the game designers at least tried to avoid endless repetitions: most environments are original, with a lot of effort put into them.

Like THE WITCHER, combat can be very engaging (but without the timed-clicking skill requirements). Where RISEN shines is the quality of its quests, the number and gravity of the choices offered and its story. And any true gamer will attest that those are the aspects that matter most for any cRPG game. After all, the greatest cRPG ever, Baldur's Gate, hardly had graphics to phone home about.

I bought this on the strength of its demo and the mostly positive reviews it received at Amazon (downloading and trying out the Demo is always a good idea). I was not disappointed.

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on 15 July 2015
Risen is a game I can best describe as digital fast food. Choosing to play it is like going to Burger King instead of that fancy restaurant with all the good reviews. You know it's not going to be the the highest quality, but it still tastes pretty amazing. Especially when you're hungry!

So what's this game about? Basically, you hack, slash, dodge, and block your way through tons of monsters whilst advancing the main storyline and completing countless side quests for the various characters populating the island. Forgive me if that sounds like I'm describing almost every other RPG out there, but it just highlights that what Risen doesn't do anything at all new or revolutionary.

Combat is simplistic but enjoyable. There are three main combat styles for your character; melee combat, magic, or a mix of the two. The style you end up with depends on which settlement you join early on in the game. I quite liked this idea, as it meant that the beginning of the game was always very different depending on which faction you chose.

The plot and setting are, respectively, average and good. The story is pretty standard fare; an ancient evil threatens the world and you're the one who has been chosen to stop it. However, the setting is much better. It's set on the large (but not Oblivion/Skyrim-sized) open world island of Faranga. Lushly vegetated and richly coloured, it's easy on the eye and fun to explore.

There are some little things which bugged me, however. The biggest issue, in my eyes, was the almost painfully slow start. I chose to join the bandit faction, and spent hours upon hours completing very mundane quests for what seemed like very small rewards. I nearly threw in the towel after receiving the umpteenth fetch quest and still feeling like my character was incredibly weak.

There's also a startling lack of women in this game. I know that sounds like an odd criticism, but I can probably count the amount of women in this game on one hand. It's an accusation I've seen leveled at this game's spiritual predecessors (the Gothic series, which I haven't played), so I'm surprised the developers didn't add in a few more just to make the world a bit more believable.

But those minor points aside, this is still an enjoyable game. It might not have the overall polish and charm of some triple A titles out there, but don't let that put you off. If you are looking to scratch an action-RPG itch, then you could certainly do a lot worse than Risen!
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on 13 November 2011
Risen is very noteceably true to its Gothic origins, with moody, singular free roaming universe that a nameless, preset hero takes on.

My appreciation of this game certainly was not love at first sight, it was actually rather the reverse, when it seemed that every single randomly encountered beast could whack me off, and I really could not get the immersion with countless relaods, and dying all the time. Yet, Risen proved to merit its second chance, when I decided to reistall it later, and give it another go.

In my view, Risen is one of the best balanced games in recent years, and will suit those who enjoy the sense of progression, when you have to patiently build up your character, to push the boundaries of the areas to explore and adversaries to beat. Risen gives you that great satisfaction when you can return to a previously impossible foe, and give it the licking it deserves because now you are ready for it. I actually had to return to patiently scout the wilds to kill my odd wolves and boars until I gained one more rank at close combat skill that enabled me to succeed the first big boss fight at end of chapter one, but it felt so much more grand for the effort it took!

The combat remains quite tactical even late in the game, and the skills are both meaningful and remain quite hardwon at least until level ten, even beyond. What I particularly like is that the equipment does not come cheap, and you have to work your way patiently to obtain better armor and equipment, and even late in the game it does not become redundant to explore, loot and check the merchants, as this might be the edge you need to beat an opponent that still eludes you. The world however is alluring and varied, and I never found myself wanting the motivation to go and peak around the corners and edges.

It is not possible to rush head on to any enemy at any stage of the game, and to expect to live to tell the tale - yet Risen allows you freely to commit your own mistakes, and this is what I really actually like about this came. I for one unlocked the lovely achievement "Idiot" for falling into my death three times. :)

I would give two recommendations for early stages of the games to avoid my initail frustration:

- do not dissipate your skills and make a difference of vital and useful but nice to have for later (i was not quite wise enough so I had to go and find those scores of wolves and boars for the first end chapter battle...)
- build your character up with faction quests before heading out for serious exploration

For all its merits, Risen is bit thin on side quests and there is little deep going conflict between different factions, and the alliances forged seem a little superficial, so the nameless hero's romp remains quite isolated. Also, it seems bit shallow that the primary skills have no bearing whatsoever to secondary skills - one could be the ultimate tank with 100 points of strenght and no dexterity, but still be the master tief. I also wish they had put more tongue-in-cheek into the quests - particularly the quest paying homage to Goodfather proved the developers have it in them!!

As to generic gaming experience, the game run totally smooth, no errors or glitches or crashes, and looks good and polished. The controls are easy, and the game is clearly developed with PC gamers in mind.

Risen must really be praised for exceptionally well thought out balance and freedom of choice despite its little flaws. I for one look forward to Risen 2.
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on 11 November 2011
In summary: One of the best RPG games of recent times. Gothic fans will probably love it, Elder Scrolls fans will probably find it small and frustrating. I'd advise any other RPG fans to give it a go and take some time to learn some of its unusual behaviour - the game is better than its competition precisely because of it.

I've recently replayed Risen and it ticks all the right boxes for me, often for exactly the reasons that fans of the elder scrolls and similar games complain about.

Small game world - Other games are often held up as epic RPGs because of their enormous size. For me this equates to either a sparsely populated or overly repetitive game world and in some cases both. By contrast, what I believe is one of Piranha Bytes great strengths is that they fit good size games into relatively small worlds. They seem to be able to create games with lots of distinct things to do, all within an area where the real-time travel from one location to the next is never greater than about 20 minutes (provided you've cleared the way first of course).

Difficult combat - Many people are frustrated by Risen's slightly quirky combat system, which I believe was also said of the original Gothic games on which the combat seems to have been based and improved. For me the combat adds an extra level of immersion to the game. I hate 'click-fest' combat which seems to pervade many RPGs these days (I would include elder scrolls games here but Gothic 3 also fell down on this). It certainly takes some time and practice to get the hang of it but once you've worked it out it is a great plus for the game.

As for difficult, in my first play through I played a melee character. With a bit of patience and perseverence you can visit almost every area in the game in the first chapter and defeat at least one of just about every enemy in the game, all wearing the weakest available armour. If you're playing as a mage I would still advise an element of melee practice as you will need to fall back on a melee weapon occasionally - but you never need to actually learn any melee skills. Just raise your strength a bit so you can hold a decent sword.

The combat in Risen gives you a great sense of achievement as well. Yes ghouls are practically impossible to kill at the start, which makes it all the more gratifying when you first beat one. And there's a clear and obvious link between gaining experience for kills / quests, gaining levels and the character's capabilities relative to the whole environment. Once you've gained some experience you can start to romp through areas you might have had to sneak through earlier. This is a great improvement over something like Oblivion which is actually harder to play as a level 50 juggernaut than it is to play as a level 2 rat snack.

No character customisation - This isn't all that important to me. Many games allow you to customize the character incredibly well. You can spend hours creating the perfect jaw-line or the right shade of pink for the cheeks - and then put a helmet on 10 minutes later and never see the face again. Much worse, in my opinion, is the lack of a voice. I find it completely breaks the immersion in a game when the main protagonist never speaks. Lack of a voice is something I particularly hated about Oblivion and Fallout 3. As an aside, Mass Effect / Mass Effect 2 solves this very well by having a customizable face with a fixed voice and removing the character's helmet when they're holding a conversation.

As for other comments in the reviews, I've never had a great problem with the graphics in Risen. They've always seemed nicely drawn and realistic enough to me though I'll admit I've never particularly studied them. Money isn't overly plentiful when you first start out but it's certainly not impossible to come by - you just need to do a bit of judicious collecting and trading. I find it also helps - though it can get a bit tedious at times - to know where the nearest water barrel is because they provide free healing.
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