This latest RPG ‘shindig’ takes place on ‘Faranga’, a mysterious tropical island rocked by earthquakes and magical... things. You are washed ashore on this strange island, and find yourself helpless and in need of some serious skill leveling and a new pair of pants. You proceed to plow headlong into the usual Machiavellian fantasy plot involving cults, ruins, goblins and an evil bald guy with a massive ruby instead of an eye.
Risen features some of the foulest in-game language I’ve ever heard, and although I enjoyed hearing the English accents (and the foul language) they’re spoke in an odd hodge-podge of medieval-ese and modern colloquialisms that simply doesn’t work. Here’s a classic bit of NPC banter: “The goblins were beating the crap out of you big time [sic].” This tongue-in-cheek approach to the dialogue seems at odds with the sombre tone the rest of the game is trying to convey. Throw in some truly awful voice acting to top it off, and it makes for some cringe-inducing cut scenes and dialogue exchanges.
I should give credit where credit is due, and the world of Risen is immense, with much to explore and to collect. The large, open-ended environments with their realistic day-night cycles and weather patterns are lovingly detailed and do give a genuine sense of immersion.
The absence of any loading screens is always welcome, and the game handles it on the whole successfully. This does make for an interesting environment, however, as all buildings seem to have permanently open doors.
Now, I am a bit down on fantasy RPGs at the moment, but that’s only because no game seems to be breaking any new ground. The result is a genre that's feeling rather stale. If I had to sum up Risen succinctly I would say: It’s a budget Oblivion with no first-person view and heaps of swearing. To put it another way: If this game were a soufflé, I’m afraid it would only be half Risen… Sorry, that was a truly terrible pun.