Risen 2: Dark Waters

Risen2-PC-boxart-ESRB
9 Overall Score

Many hours of great adventure | Very nice graphical environments

Easy to get sidetracked | Extremely slow start to adventure

Written by on June 6, 2012 in [, , , , , , ]

A hearty “Yo-Ho” to all you pirate wannabes out there.  Anyone who has ever wished to walk in the well-worn boots of a pirate for a day raise your mug o’ virtual rum and sit a spell while I relate my pirate’s tale. Risen 2, from Deep Silver, is a game that attempts to bring a pirate’s life to the action RPG genre. 

First off, this game is huge.  It is filled with a huge world consisting of many land masses that are bursting with tons of questing and nasty little critters to kill.  After more than forty hours in, I still have much more to explore.  I will first discuss points made during my “Hands On” piece that were further reinforced and expanded upon in the full version.  Afterwards I’ll delve into the new revelations.

Risen 2 is not an easy game.  There will be no hand holding here.  There are limited hints that help the player progress through the quests but the hints are vague and there is no breadcrumb trail leading the player to the next step.  This may lead players to lengthy explorations around the many large land masses to find the next quest item.  Something that makes the journey a bit less frustrating is the fact that there is more than one way to progress the quests.  The player can choose the more subtle approach of persuasion using silver tongue or the more direct approach of intimidation or flat out melee at swordpoint.  This game is touted as an AaarrrRPG but there are no classes, levels, or other character customizations found in other traditional RPG games.  Any upgrades are made through purchasing equipment and consumables with stat boosts.

When last we looked in our unnamed hero he believed acquiring the Titan Harpoon would be enough to defeat the evil Mara, Lord of the Titans.  After an epic boss battle the Hero gains the harpoon only to find out there are three other artifacts that must be found.  All the artifacts together are supposed to become the ultimate weapon.  Each of these searches are a story in itself and opens up new lands and adventures to the player.  The player can choose which, if any, of his crew to take ashore at each port.  Each crew member has skill specializations that may help our hero through this vast and deadly world.  Patty is a wise cracking daughter of pirate Captain Steelbeard.  She is also a pirate who seems to have “history” with our hero and does not appreciate his interest in other women.  She is a strong fighter and provides some funny lines.   She uses a gun and sword to fight her battles.  Chani is the daughter of the chief of the Shaganumbi tribe.  She knows voodoo and will teach you if you quest to build her trust.  She is shunned after her father finds out that she taught the Nameless Hero voodoo.  She can heal the Nameless Hero in battle and wield some voodoo magic.  These are the main crew members I chose to help me through my travels.

The world is made up of several islands and other land masses that are opened up as the player progresses along the main questline.  The player can travel almost instantly by ship back to any port they have previously explored or any new port opened up by quest.   After travelling to a new land for the first time I highly recommend finding a map (a.k.a. sea chart) of the land as soon as possible.  This allows the player to better explore the new land.  As the player finds key locations circular portals appear on the sea chart.  The player may then click on any of the portals to instantly travel to that location.

I enjoyed the boss battle setup.  The battle is in several rounds.  Minions and a mini-boss need to be taken down.  When the hero faces the big beasty he must whittle down his defenses until he can perform short quick time sequences to finish off the big guy.

There is a special quirkiness to the game.  The interaction between characters can provide a few funny lines.  My favorite came when the hero first learned how to build a voodoo doll.  He had the instant male response asking, “Any chance we can call them action figures?”  Patty also provides a few zingers as well when the hero fumbles through attempting to sweet talk the ladies.

The game is humungous.  A vast world filled with hours and hours of gameplay that sucked me into the pirate way of life.  I really loved the play of light in the environments.  A very pretty world is created for the player’s pleasure.  I will admit that a few things made me chuckle graphics-wise.  First off are the extremely large hands of all the characters in the game.  I mean these hands are HUGE.  This is made even more evident by the characters’ habit of waving them around as they speak.  Not sure why they are so over-sized. I remember a professor telling me that the famous statue of Michelangelo’s David in has over-sized hands and head to focus the observer on the man’s greatest assets, his strength and intelligence.  I am not sure this is relevant to this game but I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

Another few chuckles came with the ultra-dramatic slo-mo replay after a player hits a complex finishing blow combo.  The game takes extreme care in zooming in to show a slo-mo replay of the killing blow only to show that my sword completely misses the enemy.  These “oops” moments did not detract from the overall game for me though.

Stats are broken down into a hierarchy consisting of “Attributes” that are further broken down into “Talents” and, finally, into very specific “Skills”. Players use “Glory points” earned in battle and finishing quests to level their “Attributes”. I learned later in the game that finding legendary items will boost your base stats in different attributes. The hero finds books all over the world that speak of these items and hints at where one may find them. A quest is then added to his log. I would highly recommend keeping alert for these items since they’re a great boost to overall stats in the game.

Players earn gold to purchase the specific skills they want to improve (i.e. pick-pocket). Training is purchased by finding a trainer in the world that specializes in those skills. Finding the correct trainer was quite an adventure in itself. I was trekking all over the world to find the correct trainers thanks, in part, to my lack of short term memory. In hindsight I wish I would have kept a game journal to chart things such as which cities held which trainers. It is painfully slow earning enough gold to train in the skills. They do come at a high cost but once I got further into the game I was able to gain enough skill levels to increase my gold intake to buy new skills a bit more quickly. It made me realize how critical it is to learn the lucrative skill of lock picking as soon as possible.

Once the hero learns the basics to a skill that skill can be boosted with equipment stat boosts. A new boost I found while playing more of the game was a permanent stat boost to skills from special plant types. As with most RPG styled games the player can learn to craft. Ingredients can be many things, including plants. Some plants found in the world offer instant and permanent skill point boosts. For example the “Sharpeye” will add +1 to musket, pistol, and shotgun skills. So keep an eye out for these odd little plants and gain a free boost. Now to forge into new territory, the story progression.

In conclusion I must state again, patience is the key for this game.  It is hard in the beginning, extremely hard.  The player is pretty weak and can’t afford most upgrades to skills.  This can lead to a LOT of frustration but hang in there.  The player will be rewarded for their loyalty with a game that is insanely rich in environments and adventure.  The story works and there are plenty of characters and places to find and explore.  The player can choose a variety of ways to progress through story allowing the player to capitalize on their well-earned skills.

A copy of Risen 2:  Dark Waters was provided to The Married Gamers for review.  

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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