Daily Archives: May 16, 2011

Really Late Game Reviews: Risen

Finished Risen the other day, so figured I’d do one of these and maybe save people some potential disappointment.

Game took about 36 hours to finish doing pretty much everything possible in a single playthrough. Considering this was another relatively cheap Steam sale purchase, not a bad deal at that length.

The graphics often seem to be drooled over, but I’m not sure why exactly. The scenery is quite nice. Overall no complaints about the landscapes and backdrops and such (although people have actually made mods to make improvements: http://kamrades.com/en/index.php?m=games), but the people all look really odd. It’s like, the models are really simple and kind of clumsy, big round heads, club feet and such, but then they are covered with these really detailed and trying to be realistic/gritty skins, which creates this weird effect where you have this round-headed hero who kind of looks like the guy on the box art if he doubled his weight and possibly had a birth defect.

Risen scenery

Nice scenery in Risen, contrasted by ugly, ugly people

Blocky Risen Characters

Hi! Look at my huge head!

Risen characters

Hello modelling from the 1990's

The game has great music, although it was wildly inappropriate at times as a lot of the “wandering the countryside” music sounded a whole lot like “OMG SOMETHING BITING YOUR FACE OFF” music at certain points, which ended up with me suddenly jumping at a drum beat and swinging around wildly looking for whatever horror was trying to eat me when there was nothing around for miles. This was made all the worse because some of the enemies really blended in with the scenery well, and you didn’t realize they were there until you stepped on them and they repaid you by gnawing on your spleen.

At around 2m35s in this video you get an idea of the type of sudden change in theme of the music. This is just the general wandering around tralala music.

The music for some specific areas is even worse in terms of the whole messing up the tone thing:

Dialogue and script are actually okay overall. The combat is difficult as rumored, until you realize that magic and the crossbow are king and cannot be blocked unlike 99% of your melee attacks and weapons. The physics seem to weird out sometimes where corpses would fly across the map when I shot them with the crossbow or go sliding around so I had to chase a corpse to loot it. Physics also affected the jumping and climbing which was clunky. The game also seemed to be struggling with how realistic it wanted to be with annoying “realistic” stuff like some of the things below or being able to take a bath, and then silly unrealistic stuff like taking a bath fully clothed in your armor and with your sword still on. Also some weird camera angles, where you have cutscenes with someone talking who is not on screen.

Stupid camera in risen

A talking chair! Speaking character, nowhere to be seen...

There is also an annoying tendency, which I can only assume is intended to stretch out the playtime or just a horrendous oversight, for the NPCs to be using various crafting and other things at the exact moment you want to use them. Crafting a sword has 4 steps, use the forge, use the anvil, use the water trough, use the sharpening wheel, but the npc blacksmiths will be using whichever of those items when you need it, and you will have to wait. Then when you finally get to use it, and finish, they will be using the next item you want, because for some reason the NPCs take a LOT longer to do the same stuff as you. And for some stupid reason, you can interrupt them, but they don’t stop using it until they are done. There is no option to just talk to them and say “hey, get out of my way, I’m the PC here!”.

So overall the game was a fairly mediocre RPG with some annoying bits to start, then it started to get tiring at the end. I only managed to finish it because I was pretty sure there wasn’t that much left to the game when I started to get bored of it, but they could probably easily chop 10 hours out of it and do no real harm. After awhile, a lot of the stuff started to feel like it was intentionally put in just to make the game drag out and have a longer playthrough time.

On top of that the endgame, final boss fight and ending were all terrible, making what would have been an okay, if not fantastic, gaming experience, into something that left me feeling cheated and regretful.

(More spoilerrific specific complaints below!!!!!)

Display spoilers

The Endgame
Let’s just get the endgame/ending stuff out of the way first, since it was by far the single most repulsive part of the game for me.

The entire endgame is bullshit. After you have trudged your ass all over the island doing everything, clearing out all the various temples and ruins and crap, the game presents you with a bunch of fetchquests that have you running all over the bloody island again. Remember all those temples you hated and thought you were done with? SURPRISE! There’s a whole new section for you to explore in 5 of them!

Go get a bunch of armor and weapons, (only 1 of the weapons is even usable on the last boss) which are spread out about as far as they can be throughout the island. If this is not a big enough kick in the nuts when you thought you were just about finished, they also give you mission were you have to go to the Don and ask for his help just to have him say (paraphrased) “Not shit I can do, here have a potion and get away from me”. Well worth traveling all the way across the island I thought.

You have teleport stones (or at least you should have) at this point in the game, which make the travel less annoying, but they don’t take you exactly where you need to go, one of the locations (west coast) there is no travel stone for (just happens to be the furthest point from where you get the mission, yaaaaaay) and on top of that, there’s groups of powerful monsters waiting with immediate aggro and disembowel distance from almost all of your teleport destinations.

Hauled your tired ass all over the island again and gotten all the pieces of armor you need and fought all the ridiculous amounts of enemies sprinkled everywhere on your path? Alright, time for the end, right? No. Now you have to go track down the crazy druid from earlier in the game (All the way on the east coast this time) so that he can take them from you and play a ridiculously short and pointless cutscene to “reforge” the armor. This entire section of the game it pointless. Just give us the armor whole. There’s nothing interesting or challenging about hauling it all the way back to the stupid druid and then back to the area where the bossfight awaits. It’s just annoying and tedious filler at this point.

The Illusion of Choice (Disappearing is still an illusion right?)
Throughout the game, it builds up to this point as if you will need to make some grand choice. Stand with the inquisitor and try to help his plan succeed and save the mainland (and the rest of humanity) at the cost of this rinky dinky island filled with assholes, or stop the inquisitor and save this island, most likely damning all the rest of the world in the process.

The mages hint at this. You might need to “choose” to stop the inquisitor. Hell pirate-girl-vague-love-interest-bartender-that-never-goes-anywhere-subplot-woman even says “well, looks like you’ve got a choice to make”. But guess what. No you don’t! All decided! No choice. You will fight the inquisitor. You will save the island. You don’t get a say. All decided for you, what did you think this was an RPG or somethi… hey, wait a minute…

The Bossfight
Oh god, what a bunch of NES repetitive cheap ass bullshit is this. The boss itself is just annoying. He does 3 or so different types of attacks, 1 of which you have to reflect back at him, which stuns him, then run up and beat on him with a hammer while he’s stunned. Repeat till shitty cutscene.

This is bad enough but on top of this bits of the floor you fight the boss on disappear off and on, adding that wonderful “instant pointless death” factor that everyone loves so much.

Also, you have to hit the boss a certain number of times (5 I think, I forget) with the Titan hammer or whatever it was called that you had to get on one of the fetch quests. That’s right. Pretty much all of your experience, training, skills etc. up until now? Pointless. Are you a super mage? World’s best crossbow shot? Specialized in swords not warhammers (which is sane since there’s about 50 special good swords in the game and like 5 of everything else)? Maybe you have a 200 strength? Well tough shit. You will use the hammer for this fight and you will hit the boss X times, regardless of your strength, skills etc. The only difference between doing this bossfight at this point and 5 seconds after starting the game, in terms of advantages and preparation for your character, is that you now have more hitpoints and you have the armor and weapon required for the fight which the game has prevented you from getting up until this point.

Otherwise, all that other shit, doesn’t matter.

The Ending
So you’ve been forced to choose to probably doom all humanity everywhere other than asshole island by reimprisoning the titan. Your reward? A shitty short voiceover and a cutscene of your guy whacking the floor once with his warhammer in his smileyface armor while the titan suffers something that bears and unfortunate resemblance to a naught Japanese anime.

Loose ends? What happened to the rest of the planet? What happens to you after you leave the boss chamber? Did you at least finally get that girl? None of that shit for you! Credits then main menu! Now fuck off!

Disappointing to say the least.

Allow me to save you X dollars and hours:


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