As soon as you fire up Risen 3, you will end up dodging away from falling lumber as you cross swords with a ghostly group of pirates in the midst of a bloody conflict with explosions all around you. It seems like the best opening scene for any fantasy RPG involving pirates, but alas, it ends up missing the mark. When players get control of their character, the frame rate drops down, showing many of the shortcomings of the game before you can even play through the prologue.
Risen 3 makes a sad first impression, especially with the existing video game lineup of 2014, at least with regard to performance and visuals. Despite showing off plenty of huge, open areas and intriguing characters, the repetition, stiff animation, and bland textures for the environment prevent any sort of full immersion within the game.
This 3rd installment in the series focuses on a pirate recently risen from the dead. His short time away from the living world ends up tainting him, though. With a dark threat growing all across the sea, you find yourself trying to put together some sort of group to end it.
Similar to Fallout or Skyrim, Risen 3 lets you go through the game as you choose. There are a few areas to investigate in the beginning, each crammed with tons of action and side quests to perform. There are a chain of main quests to do, of course, though these can be left til the end as players are usually going to be motivated to wander and explore. This open way of game construction is most likely the title’s best feature.
Sadly, the gameplay itself is not capable enough to take players through the forty or so hours of content. The primary offender is the combat, something which has been left completely alone since the 2nd game in the series (Risen 2: Dark Waters) despite being the largest issue the game had. Restricted to a few different actions, players will alternate between attacking and blocking while throwing in the occasional gunshot or knife throw. This kind of combat often does just fine with other games, yet the enemy AI of Risen 3 makes fights so completely unsatisfying.
It is a defect that’s very difficult to overlook given that fight scenarios are wedged in at each and every chance. But when the firearms are holstered and swords are sheathed, Risen 3 becomes considerably more appealing. It should additionally be said that, despite the plain format the game has for dialogue, Risen 3 plays host to some really weird characters, which makes for loads of very memorable situations.
Unfortunately, this alone is not quite enough to save the game. When all is said and done, at its finest, Risen 3 is a serviceable RPG with some exceptional theories and an intriguing backdrop. At its worst the game is broken and feels totally out of place. Don’t get me wrong, the game certainly has its moments, which might be enough for hardcore RPG fans and those who already enjoy the series. For the rest of us, though, sadly this game is more likely to provide frustration instead of fun.