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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.

This latter fact seems to not faze a single person in the game, despite apparently being a rare occurrence. Even your dear ol' sister, who buried your body in the prologue, responds with barely an eyebrow-raise when you meet up with her later. "You're alive," she says nonchalantly, "but I buried you."

Yeah, thanks for that. My mouth still has dirt in it.

Another thing: Risen's world hasn't gotten any less awkward in its handling of the so-called natives. They're still an awkward caricature of South American tribes, like something out of a Saturday morning cartoon. It's...well, it's just weird.

Classless

True to form, Piranha Bytes also failed to improve combat in any meaningful way here. It's harder to get stuck in a knockdown loop (a.k.a. where an enemy attacks you a second time faster than you can recover from the first attack, trapping you in a feedback loop that results in your death) than it was in Risen 2, but combat's still not very fun or interesting.

The game is punishing to start. You're going to die a lot. You're going to forget to save, die, and lose a lot of progress. You will be annoyed.

You don't have a traditional "class" per se, and are free to mix it up with magic and swords and pistols at will. Each enemy you defeat, each quest you complete, gives you "Glory," which is a lofty name for experience points. You upgrade your stats by spending Glory, with each level of a stat costing progressively more. For example, raising your Melee skill from 20 to 25 might cost 500 Glory, while raising it from 50 to 55 might cost 7,500.

You'll basically end up focusing on one or two skills to start, then eventually get tired of waiting between levels and start filling in the rest of your skills. It's a great class-free system, though it also makes it a bit easy for every character you make to feel the same.

Luckily the story forces you to join one of three factions midway through the game, and each faction plays a bit differently. This is the main way you'll differentiate your character, and the key factor in the "replayability" of Risen 3.

As I said, combat is punishing when you start. Enemies almost always come at you in gangs. You'll spend most of your time dodging — because for some reason, you're invulnerable when rolling. Your first companion is named Bones, and he'll periodically take time away from fighting creatures to heal you. Use Bones. He will save your life over and over again. Low on health? Just roll around in circles until Bones heals you!

 

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