This current generation has so far seen a fairly high calibre of RPG’s. From Projekt Red’s Witcher 3, Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition, to Deck 13’ Lords of the Fallen; those with a penchant for action RPG have had a steady flow of title’s to while away tens, if not hundreds of hours.
Piranha Bytes, the team behind the well received and highly praised Gothic and Risen series, has taken it upon themselves to take their first formative steps into the current generation, with the enhanced edition release of last years, Risen 3: Titan Lords.
Risen 3, has you take the role of Captain Steelbeard; brother of recurring NPC Patty, and son of infamous and elusive Captain Gregorius Steelbeard, as he follows in his father’s footsteps plundering in and around the southern seas. Led to Crab Coast by a treasure map Patty acquired, things quickly escalate as during the excursion to find the treasure an unnatural skull cave forms within the temple complex. Within, you find a gateway of pure crystal but before you have a chance to react, a Shadow Lord emerges through this passageway to the underworld, knocking out Patty and extracts your soul, leaving you a lifeless husk.
Buried by your sister and the crew, your fate is not to remain interred as Bones, pirate doctor from Risen 2, has heard of your situation and with his limited understanding of voodoo, restores your body to life. Taking him as a travelling companion, you must now search the southern seas for a way to restore the spirit that was stolen from you, and find some way to resist the invasion from the land of the dead.
Risen 3: Titan Lords follows on from its predecessors in more than just its location. While the pirate theme is not as prominent as it was in Risen 2, there is still a lot of seafaring adventure to be undertaken, and the complexity of the character system and the worlds inhabitants take as much from the original title as it does from its sequel. Mages make a return, and along with the Demon Hunters and voodoo natives, (my personal favourite), make up the three factions you can join during the course of your adventures.
First and foremost combat and skills in Risen have distinct similarities in design to Risen, but holds more in common with Risen 2. Dodging, blocking, jumping and attacking are mapped to the face and trigger buttons, where quickslot abilities and items are mapped to the dpad. These abilities are indispensable later in the game as the enemies you face become more robust and deadly. Combat for the most part is fluid yet unforgiving with enemies attention and attacks following you a long distance. While facing less than 3 enemies, this is not so much an issue, but multiple enemies attacking simultaneously can reduce you to a constant block state, or worse can see your health vanish in a matter of seconds should you be unlucky enough to be stunned or fail to block at a critical time. The latter is more obvious when the enemy catapults across the screen, bypassing your companion in order to attack you directly.
Thankfully, help is at hand in the guise of the faction spells. Becoming a voodoo pirate gives you access to useful spells that have multiple functions in your battle against the denizens of the underworld. Rebound grants you a powerful ward, which knocks down enemies who manage to land a hit, Kiss of Death which leaches life from an enemy and returns it to you, or Necromancy which raises a defeated foe from the dead to fight alongside you for a short period of time. Guardians have their own equivalent Crystal based magic, Demon Hunters have their rune magic alternative, and although there are similarities between the factions, there are is also enough variance to make the decision to opt for one alignment over another something to consider.
Character stats are simplistic yet an expansion on its predecessors system, with new trees being added and associated talents being divvied up among them. As you progress through the game, complete quests, kill enemies or succeed in using talents, you are awarded the Risen version of experience; Glory.
Further upgrades to talents and new abilities can also be learned from trainers located throughout the game world, as long as you have the required talent prerequisite and gold available to purchase it, some of which are essential to certain quests or tracking down elusive rare weapons and armour.
Graphically, there is a noticeable improvement over the last gen release of Risen 3. Character models are better defined, environments and backdrops teem with vibrant colour and life and even the “Dead Land”; areas of the map that the Underworld has taken root, is beautifully realised in its own minimalist fashion.
Risen 3 performs extremely well on the PS4, with no perceivable slow down or visual problems during my 40+ hours in game yet, amusingly, there is a slight draw back. Unfortunately the animation for the lock barrel, on the often used Lock picking minigame, has a distinctive look when the tumblers roll that plays a trick on the naked eye. The movement of the tumblers is so quick, that it appears to have the same artefact effect as screen tearing. After several attempts replicating the issue, and training my eyes to ignore the rest of the screen, it became obvious that it was merely an unfortunate optical trick.
Alongside the expansive main story arc, Risen has a great deal of quests and hidden treasure to be pursued across the islands dotting the southern seas and each of the islands are a substantial size, excluding the Crab Coast which through necessity of the introduction is a great deal smaller than the others. Traversal through these islands is simplified by finding Transporter stones in your travels, which allow you to unlock and reactivate transport portals which act as your fast travel within an islands interior. As you progress through the story, travel between islands is at first via Bones little sloop, but an upgraded galleon can be unlocked and once this has occurred certain nautical events will unlock periodically facing you off against other galleons and sea monsters as you navigate the archipelago.
Overall, if you are a fan of RPG’s or the Risen series itself, and can overlook the combat niggles and visual quirks, there is a deep, compelling and massive RPG to while away several weeks of gaming.
MLG Rating: 7.5/10 Format: PS4 Release Date: 21/08/2015
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Risen 3: Titan Lords Enhanced Edition by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.