|System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC*|
|Dev: Piranha Bytes|
|Pub: Deep Silver|
|Release: August 12, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Risen 3… it’s an RPG that’s kind of about the middle ages, kind of about pirates, kind of about zombies, and kind of about monsters. If this sounds like a random disorganized mishmash to you, then congratulations, you know exactly what Risen 3 is like. Risen 3 never seems to actually get off on the right foot. Its gameplay concepts are always almost fun, its story is always almost compelling, and its graphics are almost impressive. But nonetheless, the game is always stuck in “almost.” Instead of refining any of its interesting ideas, Risen 3 just seems to add more and more half-baked ideas to the game, which makes the whole thing feel unpolished.
The first thing people think of when you say unpolished is graphics, and Risen 3’s graphics could use some work. The game looks like an HD remake of some other game a generation old. Characters look blocky and undefined. Hands are stuck open in that crab claw pose that you remember form the PS2 era. Shoulders are jagged and pecs look like they are painted on flat chests. Characters kind of look like moving dolls in the game and it’s a little disturbing to be honest.
Environments don’t fare all that well either. Textures look incredibly flat. Rooms and dungeons feel uninspired, more like they are just default locations for important events to happen rather than an actual living and breathing world. This kind of undercuts the game’s theme of pirates on the high seas, which usually is bolstered when the world feels fast, wide, open, and far bigger than your characters themselves. More open locations fare a bit better though. When you stand outdoors on each island, you can look deep into jungles and meet interesting natives. It’s just a shame that these areas are so cut off from the more scripted and static areas the game has to offer.
Finally, I also feel it’s necessary to nitpick the animations as well. Risen 3 kind of looks like an MMO in action, rather than a standard RPG or action game. Slashes go right through enemies as they stand there motionless, or possibly react a split second later. Your characters move fast and fluid but their motions stop with awkward jerks. It, once again, gives the whole game a strange puppet like feel which I would have guessed was what the team was going for if I didn’t know that puppets basically have nothing to do with the game.
The gameplay is your standard RPG faire. You’ll sail from island to island, talking to people, completing quests, so on and so forth. The quests are all your standard faire too--get this item, kill this thing, talk to this person, blah blah blah. It hits basically every note that you would expect an RPG to hit in its 20 hour running time, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also does nothing to set it apart from other examples of the genre. Character development is sparse, and there are few plot twists that take you by surprise. Risen 3’s plot isn’t very deep at all, which feels like it’s a bit too little in our day and age of cinematic game experiences. You feel like you are compelled to continue playing more for seeing your own numbers go up, than to see what happens next in the story.
Risen 3’s biggest downfall is its progression system. While the stat progression system, which is a bit more fluid than giving you stat points at pre-determined levels, is actually kind of cool, the inventory and skill system is infuriating. Nearly every character in the game has an inventory that you can purchase from. These inventories don’t really have any rhyme or reason to them, other than a vague increase in power in certain areas. This makes it very hard to tell who you can get a good piece of equipment off of, and means that your shopping trips take forever, almost a mini-quest in themselves.