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Risen 3: Menial labor drags down this pirate adventure

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 13, 2014
Many times I've sat here, reviewing video games, and lamented the downfall of the "B-Game." See, when I was growing up, there was no such thing as "Indie" yet. Games were either big-budget AAA affairs or, more often than not, B-games.

Many times I've sat here, reviewing video games, and lamented the downfall of the "B-Game." See, when I was growing up, there was no such thing as "Indie" yet. Games were either big-budget AAA affairs or, more often than not, B-games.

B-games were a bit cheaper, a bit smaller — but also, by that same token, you occasionally got a B-game that took massive risks because hey, the consequences for failure were smaller.

On the other hand, playing Risen 3: The Titan Lords has reminded me of the other type of B-game — the ones where you thought to yourself, "Hey, I feel like I've played this game before...only better." It's not bad in any traditional sense. It's not broken, it's not particularly buggy, it's not offensive. In fact, it's perfectly inoffensive — the game equivalent of a bag of chips, consumed for no reason other than it's around and you're hungry.

And that's fine. It's just not very inspiring.

Risen again

Risen is a massive third-person RPG, set across multiple islands in some sort of pseudo-Caribbean setting. You're a pirate, but you're also kind of a knight — the Risen series still can't quite shake the trappings of developer Piranha Bytes's old Gothic series. In fact, the overwhelming feeling with Risen 3 is that Piranha Bytes just keeps on making the same game over and over, never quite fixing its mistakes.

People complained because Risen 2 threw you into the story without recapping the original Risen in any way. Risen 3 does the same, immediately propelling you into a narrative involving Captains Crow and Steelbeard, expecting you both to know and remember the lore of the previous two installments. Woe betide any character who recurs from an earlier game, because you'll also be expected to remember seemingly insignificant details about those characters or else feel lost and confused.

It doesn't really matter though, because Risen 3's story isn't particularly strong — another hallmark of Piranha Bytes games. Most quests are inane, "Kill X Amount of Y" quests or — even worse — fetch quests. In many cases you'll finish a half-dozen or so before you're even assigned these tasks, just by wandering randomly around the island. Suddenly, you'll see text popping up — "Scavenger 1/3," "Scavenger 2/3," "Quest Completed: Kill the Scavengers" — before anyone tells you to go kill said animals, making it pretty awkward when someone says "Hey, go kill these things that are terrifying our small island village," and you reply, "Oh, sorry, I already did."

Oh yeah, the story. The Shadows are invading, and it's up to you to stop the realm of the dead from spreading across the land — except you die in the prologue and are subsequently brought back to life, so you're also on a quest to regain your soul.

 

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