Risen Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PC

This epic role playing game is set in a medieval world on a volcanic Mediterranean island, The “Risen” story unfolds over four chapters and will offer multiple ways to develop the story.

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5Out of 10
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Risen is the new fantasy RPG from Gothic developer Piranha Bytes
Risen is the new fantasy RPG from Gothic developer Piranha Bytes

Risen is the new fantasy RPG from Gothic developer Piranha Bytes

German developer Piranha Bytes clearly doesn't give a toss about accessibility. If it did then Risen, its new fantasy role-playing game, wouldn't play slower than a legless turtle. If it did, then Risen wouldn't be an overwhelming sprawl of a game that tries its damnedest to make you feel very, very lost. If it did, then Risen wouldn't make you want to tear you hair out in frustration every time you swing your sword. If it did, then Risen wouldn't be half as annoying as it really is.

The thing is, some people actually like their role-playing games like this. They love the slow burn. They love spending 10 hours walking aimlessly around Harbour Town, talking to awfully-modelled and generically-voice-acted NPCs, with absolutely no idea what they need to do to get quests finished. Well, there's no accounting for taste.

Risen had potential. It's got a lot of cool ideas bubbling under the surface. The story itself is an interesting tale that sees you, a stowaway on a ship sunk by a storm, washed up on the shore of Mediterranean-styled Faranga Island, which is suffering from mysterious earthquakes and the scramble to control treasure-filled ruins that have suddenly sprouted (hence Risen) from the ground. And the moral dilemmas the game poses are, in many ways, better executed than anything seen in BioWare's or Bethesda's best. After only 20 minutes you're asked to make a decision that'll drastically alter the rest of the game: should I align myself with the raggedy Outlaws or the brutal Inquisition? At first, the game's NPCs make you feel that the Outlaws are the "right" choice, fulfilling the classic Rebel Alliance role, but the more you play the more you get a sense that there's more to both factions than meets the eye.

The quests themselves are well constructed, intelligent and believable. Sure, there's an unreasonable amount of dialogue to listen to, and the cinematic camera angles that depict conversations look like something from the dark ages, but what they actually have you do and what they actually have you consider is impressive.

For example, one quest sees you trying your hand at Hercule Poirot-style crime solving. A burglar is on the loose and it's clear he has a spy scoping out storehouses. But who is it? You need to spend time interviewing the main players, asking them who was hanging about at the time of the theft. Not only do you have to identify a suspect, but find some evidence, too.

Risen's Faranga Island is a convincing, living and breathing game world.

Risen's Faranga Island is a convincing, living and breathing game world.

Another nice touch is the complete lack of a morality system. There's no positive or negative karma, no paragon or renegade alignment. You never make a decision that affects how good or bad you are. There are just quests that need to be resolved, factions that can be joined and played off of each other, and NPCs that pay for your services. Risen doesn't judge your decisions, which is something of a rarity in this genre.

So, everything's set up for an epic, engaging single-player RPG experience. The problem is that all the good in Risen is unceremoniously snuffed out of existence from the very moment you wake up on the island's shore. Risen's ridiculous refusal to help you, even a teensy weensy bit, is its undoing. Everything, and I mean everything, seems designed to piss you off.

First off, the Xbox 360 version of the game (the version tested) is a technical mess. The framerate is abominable. You can see it chug even when you're just walking about in the day time. The game's horribly dark, but when night time comes it's nigh on impossible to see anything. So, you use a torch to light your way. "Hold on there buddy", Risen says. "If you're going to use a torch, then give me a sec. I need to prepare myself for a heart attack."

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User Comments

Woody's Avatar


This game has got to be one of the worst i have ever played in my life. i have had to restart the game now 3 count it 3 times because the developers didn't notice that the main quest line to become a mage is so broken it's border line neglect.
Posted 03:34 on 04 January 2011
Igameitup's Avatar


I must say the game overall was decent. Of course there will be isssues as there were many in any other rpg i can think of. the storyline was amazing and i have to disagree with most of what your review says. I played it for maybe half a day and I was already killing anything i saw. the quests were simple enough to find and complete if you pay attention to what is told and look on your map.

The game was great and gave a sort of gothic feel to it. I enjoyed plastering any npc that could be smacked to the floor and looting everything and anything I saw. along with the money issue I was rich from the moment i started the game. sell/steal/beatup very easy. the only thing i didnt like was how weak the magic was as a warrior I could 1 hit most mobs/npcs but with magic I would have to waste almost all my mana to even phase them
Posted 09:11 on 06 March 2010
Best666's Avatar


I have played all Gothic Games on my PC so this was the first Gothic with a new name and I must admit, I loved it. True the graphic is oldfashioned but this is Gothic in every sence. The story is great and every step brings you deeper into the story, if you have played the other gothics and loved them give Risen a chance.
Posted 14:40 on 19 February 2010
GinjaNinja's Avatar


Could not agree more,without doubt one of the most frustrating RPG'S i have ever played,thought you were over generious giving it 6 for game play,im now level 18 and still you can die so easily,it had such a good game there completely cocked up by the makers,shoddy,rough round the edges and yes it does want to make you smash it to bits,i have only stayed with it till Dragon Age: Origins comes out.
I would'nt recomend anyone paying any more than £15 max for this to pass the time before a proper RPG comes along.
Posted 12:38 on 13 October 2009
DrDamn's Avatar

DrDamn@ wyp100

RE:Accessibility - I think to an extent that could have spoiled a lot of the quests. There has been only one so far where I needed to ask a friend as I didn't know where to go next. It is meant to be part of the game - whether that appeals to you or not. The other point is that the structure of the quests mean that actually there is not always a set "where to go next". It depends on which choices you are making and who you are siding with. The end result for me has been that the game plays out much more like a point and click adventure in places rather than a sequence of tasks. In the former the enjoyment is more in working your own way through the quest where a sequence of tasks is done more for the reward at the end of it.

Regarding the framerate - obviously, but I would still contend this is a game engine issue rather than a framerate issue as such - framerate implies it is the graphics which are struggling. In reality it is the underlying game engine holding it back. For example if you stand at a single point and spin round then the framerate is consistent and sound. Ok what spins around you may make your eye bleed in terms of quality but it is smooth movement. :D
Posted 09:43 on 08 October 2009
wyp100's Avatar

wyp100@ DrDamn

The accessibility points you make are valid. I don't want games to lead me through the nose, but an option to give me some idea of where I need to go/who I should speak to next would have made the world of difference. It doesn't have to be a permanent thing - you could use it if you want to.

The framerate comment - games shouldn't have to be installed to the HD to run properly.
Posted 14:17 on 07 October 2009
DrDamn's Avatar


A couple of comments. I don't disagree with the score as that is the reviewers opinion and experience. However as another perspective this game is not without sizeable merits. In fact some of the points the reviewer raises as bad are considerable plus points for me.

Accessibility could be improved, largely in terms of interface design/use. The fact it doesn't lead you by the nose through the game is a massive bonus for me. Fable 2 was a big disappointment because it went the wrong side of accessible. You could - a little harshly - boil the game down to follow the green line and spam spell you have powered up.

It's a crazy notion but by leaving the player to work some things out you can get a great sense of achievement when playing. It doesn't get everything right in this area, but for me it's a breath of fresh air in a sea of games which have already decided what and where I am going next.

One final comment on the framerate. I installed to HD so not sure if that is the reason but the framerate for me has been solid. There are game pauses occasionally which jar, but this isn't strictly a framerate issue, it's a game engine problem. The pause is temporary and brief rather than a constant annoyance of jitter and tearing. Given the very poor standard of the graphics it's the least you should expect though :).
Posted 13:48 on 07 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar


Posted 18:32 on 03 October 2009
Schiff's Avatar


what a disappointing review. On pc this is a GREAT game, absolutely.
Posted 15:13 on 03 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar


And i have already explained the difference between RPG and MMORPG's in another post about top ten RPG's.
Posted 13:54 on 03 October 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ blazenwreckage

I think your thinking of MMORPG's they are by definition hardcore RPG's.
Posted 13:51 on 03 October 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev@ Mandala

Is this game your cousin?
Posted 13:22 on 03 October 2009
Mandala's Avatar


This review is total garbage. Games Radar gives Risen 9/10 Metacritic has Risen averaging a rating of 8.2/10, with a few other review sites giving it a 9/10. A person dumb enough to give this review deserves their fate of playing Oblivion for the 50th time, but unfortunately for them, they wouldn't possess the sense to understand their misfortune.
Posted 13:08 on 03 October 2009
spacer1205's Avatar


I actually thought the game was pushed back, either way I knew it would be like Two Worlds and wasn't that impressed. I will pass on this title as well..............
Posted 22:59 on 02 October 2009
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar


Hard core or not, if its not fun its not worth playing.
Posted 16:12 on 02 October 2009

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Out of 10
  • Believable plot and quests
  • Unnecessarily inaccessible
  • Awful combat
  • Woefully unpolished
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 02/10/2009
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: Deep Silver
Genre: RPG
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 1,264 405
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