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on October 2, 2009
I'll admit it, I expected this game to be a bust. After the travesty that was Gothic 3, I had little hope for any product Piranha Bytes put out. But I was dead wrong. This game is vastly superior to Gothic 3, and is comparable to the original two Gothic games, which is just about the highest praise that it could be given. It is a shame that Piranha Bytes did such a horrendous job with Gothic 3 and lost the right to the Gothic franchise to Jowood (their publisher), but it seems that the kick in the pants put them back on the right track.

Just to set the record straight, this game is nothing but a shameless rip-off of the previous Gothic games. And I mean shameless. The world looks exactly the same, the enemies are all the same, the towns look the same, the atmosphere is the same, etc. The scavengers are back as "sea vultures," the goblins are back as gnomes, the bloodflies are back as "grave moths," the boars are back, the pickable plants are all back, the dock in town was lifted right out of Gothic 2, the chapter system is in place again, etc. There are three camps once again, and they are the same three camps; the rogues who live in a swamp, the town who works for the Order, and the monastery. The Risen title is in the same distinctive font as the previous Gothic titles. There's even an abandoned lighthouse manned by a fellow named Jack again, for goodness' sake! Either the developers are completely out of ideas and recycled everything from their previous games or (as I think more likely) this was originally meant to be a sequel to the Gothic series, but when they lost the rights they just changed the names around. I can't stress enough how similar this is to Gothic, which in my mind is a very good thing, as I rank Gothic 1 and 2 among the greatest games ever created.

As far as gameplay goes, it is relatively smooth. There are some bugs (such as randomly teleporting to the roof of a house when you attempt to sneak in the doorway, or getting stuck in zoomed-in mode after using the crossbow zoom function), but they aren't game-breaking and are quite rare. The combat is something of a cross between Gothic 2 and Gothic 3 combat. It's a lot of button mashing until you get the hang of it, but once you do it has the rhythmic quality present in Gothic 2 that I loved. Your character has the unfortunate tendency to continue to attack after you stop hitting the buttons, which leads to opening yourself up for an enemy attack or smashing one of your allies in the face, which is very annoying, though it doesn't happen all the time. It is certainly better that the atrocious combat system from Gothic 3. And, unlike previous Gothic games, you can block animals, which is handy. Combat certainly isn't easy, though. I frequently have to flee from opponents too strong for me to face, and I get beat up or die constantly. There's none of that pansy scaled leveling that many other RPGs have, where your enemies strength is relative to your own so that you can do anything at any time. In this game you just can't go to certain areas until you are a high enough level, and there are some enemies you just have to flee from until you level up enough to take them on. I like that in a game; I don't want things handed to me. There's a certain degree of satisfaction when you can finally stand and face the ghoul you've been fleeing from the past ten hours of gameplay.

The world itself is very large, though smaller than previous Gothic games. I'd say it's about the same size as the Gothic 2 main area (not including the Gothic 1 area you fight the dragons in or the Night of the Raven expansion area), and it takes forever to explore. Like in previous Gothic games, exploring is rewarded, and you'll find all sorts of interesting and useful things in random locations in the wild. The world looks like Gothic 2 created using the Gothic 3 engine. While it looks very pleasant, it also looks outdated. It certainly isn't as pretty as other current games. However, in an RPG people are looking for content more that graphical superiority, and Risen's defects are more than outweighed by its strengths. The storyline is good, though it will be the massive amount of characters and sidequests that really get your attention. There are an incredible number of unique characters who all play some part in some quest or another (and from what I can tell they all have their own voice actors, unlike the previous Gothic games where you could tell several characters were voiced by the same person). The sheer scope of the game world is incredible. It's a bit shorter than previous Gothic games, which took a good 50+ hours to finish. This one takes around 30 hours, but it has a very high replay value since the entire game will be different depending on which camp you join. If this game is at all successful, I expect to see an expansion similar to Night of the Raven being released, as it could be very easily fit in to pad out the game length.

This is one of the best RPGs I've ever played, and while it isn't quite as good as the original Gothic games, it comes closer than any other RPGs I've played. Piranha Bytes clearly hasn't lost their touch. The few small problems (a few bugs, twitchy camera, etc.) are no more than minor annoyances. I only wish they hadn't messed up Gothic 3, so that we could be playing this game with all the original Gothic characters.
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on October 7, 2009
This game's world--settlements, forests, swamps, caves, and ruins--gets right everything that the "Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion", "Fallout 3", "Knights of the Old Republic", "Fable", "Mass Effect", "Neverwinter Nights" and so many other role-playing games in recent memory get wrong.

Every nook and cranny in "Risen" is uniquely designed and fun to explore, while still fitting into the larger shapes and patterns of the world. The entire game is a SINGLE three dimensional space to explore and conquer, there are no loading screens that transport you into separate "cave" or "dungeon" or "building interior" universes.

Every townsperson or monster or treasure chest or lockpick combination was created and placed to test your skill, not to waste your time. The complex interlinking of characters and quests require that the player pay attention and make choices with incomplete knowledge and only her own moral compass as a guide, not simply to choose "good, evil, neutral" responses by rote in order to dress up their character the way they want.

This was the sort of RPG I imagined a 3D engine would make possible back when I was playing "Quest for Glory" or "Baldur's Gate" and it has finally arrived. Do not miss it!
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on October 2, 2009
If you are a fan of Gothic 2 this is pretty much a must buy. Others might want to grab the demo, which is now available to see if they like the gameplay. The only minimal disappointments are a somewhat smaller world to explore versus Gothic 2 and a more twitch-based melee combat than I personally would like. The graphics are pretty enough, but it will remind you of a game dating from pre Half-Life 2 generation of games. Character animations are a little wooden and some environment textures are more blurry than they really should be in this day and age. But I am being picky! It really is a god sent game for those of us who like "deep" crpg's and a fairly open world to explore. Just like Gothic 2, you will be asked to join a faction and at that point some quests are locked out until you replay the game and join a different faction. So far, it is easily a B+ game.

Folks who want games just like Oblivion or Fallout 3 should really download the demo since this game is hard: there's no baby-step leveling and super-easy combat here :) If you go up against a bigger creature while exploring, there is no auto-leveling, and you will die instantly. Kill a character before talking to him and you potentially lock yourself out of a quest forever. That's the type of rpg game this is and I wish there were games like this out there.
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on October 31, 2009
I just finished playing Risen and found it a little dry. It is a pretty strait forward rpg without many bells and whistles. Having just finished Fallout 3 and waiting for Dragon Age to come out i wanted something to fill the time in between, Risen looked like a good way to fill the gap and thats what it did. I dont think i even would have finished it if i had something else i wanted to play. I dont know, its like i kept playing hoping it would pick up a little bit, then it was over. I had alot of fun for about the first 10 hours then it was just more of the same old same. There just wasnt that much variety. The beastiary was kind of small, maybe like 20 different things to kill total. Like 3 helmets, maybe 5 suits of armor, but there was an ok selection of swords, axes and staves, 5 shields or so, same for rings and amulets. You can craft swords,rings,amulets and potions, theres cooking both over a fire and in a caldron, and you can make scrolls any of the classes can use, and you can prospect for ore. But none of the items needed to do any of these things are hard to find, and i ended up with a TON of extra stuff when the game ended. Ok, now for some of the good. The graphics are very good. Lighting and shading are excellent, and flow very well with the time of day and weather. The island does have a volcano and when under ground there is some shaking and rumbling that causes dust to fall from the ceiling. The combat is not too much hack and slash, you need to use your shield, if you have one, parry, dodge, combos and tho i didnt play a magic class, there is a good variety of magic scrolls anyone can use. There are bows and crossbows. You can sneak and pickpocket, and there is lockpicking wich is extremely usefull. The voices of the npcs are pretty good i recognized John Rhys-Davies who was Gimli in Lord of the Rings (i remember him better as Sallah in Indiana Jones..." asps..very dangerous..you go first. " Ok, so in short i gave this game 3 stars for, in my opinion, a lack of variety in items and beasts, and over all game play. This game doesnt suck, its just kind of blah. But if you like rpgs, and your in between games, this is a pretty good time filler.
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VINE VOICEon August 9, 2010
In Risen you take on the role of a nameless (male) hero castaway on the fictitious volcanic tropical island of Faranga. The island is originally only inhabited by humans and animals. However, recent storms and volcanic eruptions cause ancient temple ruins to rise from the ground unearthing long hidden areas such as catacombs and dungeons. From these "Risen" ruins strange and fantastic creatures begin to spill out across the island. With these creatures comes the lure of long lost treasure and riches hidden within these ruins. As a result, a group of humans called the "Inquisition" place the island in a state of quarantine, forbidding anyone from exiting their city or the island. While farmers, hunters and common folk are locked inside the city two factions vie for control of exploring the newly appeared ruins in hopes of discovering their origin and ultimately the salvation of the island. Here are my thoughts on this extremely engaging CRPG masterpiece;

Pros

+ Very nice graphics overall. Weapon, armor, creature and water details were exceptionally impressive as was all of the scenery (sunsets, waterfalls, forests etc.).

+ Another amazing musical score by Kai Rosenkranz that fits the world beautifully. It's not quite Gothic 3 but still very good. The only track I didn't especially care for was the spaghetti-Western sounding song in the Bandit Camp.

+ Brilliant voice acting on every level utilizing the talents of Andy Serkis and John Rhys-Davies. Every line of dialogue within the game is spoken by voice actors, including your character. This is extremely refreshing in an RPG and still quite uncommon today.

+ Twitch based combat was fast, fun, extremely well done and a vast improvement over Gothic 3. It required you to be strategic and time your attacks as well as your blocks/dodges.

+ Dynamic night/day and weather cycles added a lot of realism to the game play.

+ Adult themed fantasy CRPG. The game beautifully handles violence and vulgarity without making it seem over the top or forced. Some of the dialogue was absolutely priceless.

+ Excellent item descriptions tell you exactly what the item does, is for and how to use it. A good example was with various meats and vegetables you could buy or find and how to cook them into stat beneficial food.

+ Brilliantly laid out dungeon and underground areas. Dungeons were plentiful, not overly long, beautifully decorated and always a joy to discover and explore.

+ Engaging and original storyline.

+ Spell effects were clean and didn't bog down the system when cast.

+ The Don and his bandit's are very well portrayed and the hardened outlaws they are. They're crude, crass, heartless and unforgiving. They are bandits after all, why shouldn't they act like them?

+ Hero you play has a witty and sarcastic sense of humor.

+ Many of the characters on both the Inquisition and Don sides have Spanish names (Esteban, Mendoza, Delgado etc.). If this was homage to Monty Python's "Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!" then, well done developers!

+ Multiple storylines depending on the faction you choose to ally with.

+ Completely seamless world both indoor and outdoor. There are no loading times except during cut scenes, chapter changes and teleports.

+ Creatures and Enemies are NOT scaled by level as in other games like Oblivion. If you shouldn't be there, they let you know. Some may find that harsh but I find it realistic.

+ Save anytime, anywhere.

Cons

- Steep learning curve. Leveling is very slow to start with, gear is tough to acquire, combat is extremely challenging and opponents are vicious.

- Not many factions to ally yourself with. Eventually you're forced to ally with a faction as the game progresses and none of them start out particularly appealing or friendly. The Don and his bandits are cold, unfriendly and selfish criminals while the Inquisition are self righteous, strict, imposing and almost oppressive.

- Magic use (other than scrolls or potions) is only available on the Inquisition/Convocation of Mages side.

- Can't loot armor from any of the opponents you defeat even though they're clearly wearing it. Early on in the game I defeated a high level Inquisition NPC who was wearing extremely nice armor only to find that I wasn't even offered the choice of looting it.

- Sneak skill doesn't allow you to sneak up on monsters.

- Quests in Harbor City became a bit too long and boring.

- Game suffered a bit from pacing problems depending on how you approached the story.

- Your character begins to feel a bit too much like a tattle tale throughout many of the quests.

- The differentiation between Magic Barriers (blue) and Magic Force Fields (Red) is never described.

- Very limited armor choices

- Limited terrain. It's basically only jungles, swamps and dungeons since you're on a tropical island.

- Ending was sort of abrupt and a bit of a let down.

- Shadow graphics are very heavy on the system.

- Lots of foot travel and backtracking around the island before you can activate teleportation stones.

- Opening cinematic really doesn't make much sense until later in the game.

Tips <Contains SPOILERS>

~ Save often as you will die A LOT.

~ Always take descriptive notes and mark down locations when you find a chest that you can't open, a magic barrier you can't dispel, a dungeon you're not strong enough to explore, ore you can't harvest or a creature you can't defeat. If you don't you will most likely forget and miss many of the treasures throughout the game.

~ DO NOT eat any Ogre Root, Pixie Hat or Wanderlust plants. Wait until you take Alchemy which allows you to brew potions that give you +5 to a stat from one plant vs. +1 from just eating it. Wanderlust will give you +100 exp for 5 plants vs. +25 exp if you just eat them. I didn't notice a stat potion for Druid's Hemlock to increase your life by +5 rather than the +1 from eating the plant.

~ One switch may open multiple doors depending on how many times you press it.

~ Beneficial skills to take are Smithing (craft weapons and magic jewelry), Alchemy (brew health/mana potions and permanent stat enhancing potions), Pickpockets (if you prefer to complete quests the easy way by just stealing items people may have rather than doing what they request of you), Sneaking (if you don't want to be heard entering off limits areas to pilfer goodies),

~ Turn Shadows down to Low if you're experiencing any lag or memory leak style issues while playing. Once I did that the game ran flawlessly.

~ If you want to learn and devote skill points to magic early join the Monastery, don't wait.

~ 2-handed weapons can be used 1-handed with a shield if your weapon skill in that area is high enough.

~ Learn to properly use the "charged blow" attacks.

~ Pick 1 or 2 max styles of attack if you want to maximize those skills (melee weapon, ranged weapon or magical attacks). If you spread your skill points evenly across multiple attack styles you'll be less than mediocre at everything.

~ Staff Fighting, while it looks cool at first is very underwhelming damage and defense wise later in the game.

~ Don't explore at night as you will more than likely die repeatedly. Night time is extremely dark in the game and most creatures tend to sleep at night. Often times you'll find yourself struggling to see where you're going and literally trip over a group of sleeping enemies who will in turn make an easy meal out of you. Use a bed to rest until morning so it's daylight.

~ Open all pouches and mussels found in your inventory as they can yield rewards.

~ Do as many quests as you can before joining a faction and many will no longer be available or be lost once you choose sides. However, if you wish to become magically adept early you may have to skip some quests.

~ DO NOT kill any NPCs without knowing the consequences. If you kill someone who is part of a quest line or is a trainer you can never finish or take advantage of either.

~ Skills I took that I could have done without; Staff Fighting, Create Scrolls (was forced to take it as a Mage), Skin Animals (you need a specific tool for each type of animal to remove the necessary piece) and Acrobatics (nice to have in case you fall but otherwise not very useful)

~ Read every bookstand/book you can in the game as it increases your wisdom.

~ Conjure Skeleton is extremely useful against tougher and multiple opponents as it allows you to flank and or attack from behind.

~ Always carry Nautilus Transformation, Levitation and Telekinesis scrolls if you're not a Mage or don't use ranged weapons.

~ Ranged weapons can flip switches, levers and pulley systems.

I'll admit, at first I was apprehensive about this game but after only one hour of playing I was completely hooked. This game absorbed me for weeks and took me a total of 76 hours to complete with my character ending at L29. I chose to ally myself with the Convocation of Mages faction who formed an alliance with the Inquisition (Essentially I was considered part of the Inquisition). I was primarily skilled with Swords, a few points in crossbow and full points in Seals (Magic Spells), Open Locks, Smithing and Alchemy. I also took Pick Pocketing (2), Acrobatics, Sneaking, Prospect Ore, Create Scrolls and Skin Animals. Money seemed a bit tight in the beginning of the game but I finished the game with over 17,000 gps. If you're a patient gamer into CRPG's that allow you to build your character the way you want then this is the game for you. Or if you enjoyed similar games such as Gothic 3, Two Worlds or Divine Divinity 2. I can't recommend it enough.
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on October 7, 2009
This game brings be back to the original Gothic game where the world was designed with care. The environments and atmosphere in the game are great. Thinks like flying insects, fog, lightning, and earthquakes are just some of the things that make this game so fun to play. While you're on this volcanic island you will experience small tremors and quakes that will rock the world. While I was in a dungeon this caused dirt and pebbles to fall from the ceiling. The voice acting is also good and every line so far has been spoken dialogue which I think is a nice touch.

This game is challenging and will force you to make choices that will change what happens. You will start as a weakling that must learn to Block and attack only when an opportunity presents itself. There is no wild hack and slash here, because that my friend will put you 6 feet under. Fighting more than 1 creature will test your skills and force you to be strategic. I really like the way it locks you in on the enemy in front of you so you can dance around him while blocking and waiting for your perfect attack. Sometimes that perfect attack will still get interrupted when the creature does a surprise attack or dodge. This really makes the fights dynamic and fun. You will have to level up before tackling some creatures unless you like eating dirt.

I was not going to buy this game, but the demo changed my mind real quick because of the above. I hope others will buy this game to support the game developer on future games like this. They really went back to the old style Gothic 1&2 and not the mess that was Gothic 3 (Which wasn't too bad after 1.6 patch).
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on December 7, 2011
I really don't like giving negative reviews, but Deep Silver needs to get it together. I was looking forward to playing this game, but it wouldn't activate. When I tried (several times), I received an "Unexpected error (13:6)." I contacted Amazon support, and they recommended that I contact Deep Silver support. First, I tried calling, but the call is routed overseas and disconnects. So, I sent an email explaining the problem as clearly as possible. The response I received said there "might be a problem with the activation server" and to try again later. The next response I received told me to contact Steam support for all Dead Island games. (The title of the email was "Risen - PC: Activation Error", so I can't imagine why they would suggest that I contact Steam for a Dead Island game.) Every one of their responses showed that they were either clueless, lazy, or both.

I sent a total of seven emails over the past three days. After having my time wasted for so long, I was quite frustrated. I asked to be contacted by a manager. Instead of the manager contacting me, they told me to contact Tages support. The support rep told me that the manager didn't like my attitude, and wouldn't contact me.

I didn't have an attitude, at first. It wasn't until three days of having to wait several hours for each incompetent response to an email, without any sign of hope that the issue would be resolved. Now, this is my attitude: If Deep Silver doesn't care enough about their customers to take the time to read an email (at least read the title, so they know what product the issue is about) and provide a response that displays some level of thought and effort, I don't need to be their customer.

As always, Amazon customer service is outstanding! This issue is obviously beyond their control, but they went the extra mile to make sure I was taken care of. Thank you, Amazon!
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on February 5, 2010
This game takes place in a fantasticly beautiful world. There are lots of caves and dungeons to explore and if you like a freeroaming rpg, then you should love this game. But if your looking for this to be as good as Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion, then you will be disappointed, for this game is quite different...Everyone is looking for another game similar to oblivion, but there really isnt any, other than Fallout 3.
You start out this game as a piece of trash shipwrecked on a beach, and you are alone, without any friends. nearly everyone seems to be your enemy. Some people might find this distasteful, but this is where the fun comes in. you have to earn respect and earn your weapons and armor. You can learn alchemy, enchant weapons, learn blacksmithing, hunt, and even learn powerful magic spells. If you feel like getting lost in a great RPG world, then get this game! You wont regret it!
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on January 8, 2010
I have to say that I have played many roleplaying games but this was one of the best. Usually when you play an RPG towards the end the bad guys get easier and easier to kill because you have so many accrued points, but not so here. Even when I maxed out my strength and swordplay I still had a tough time with some of the villains. The scenery is gorgeous and the environment is huge. Some of the time there were locations and puzzles to solve and they weren't so easy. I spent a few hours looking for a treasure chest that was buried in an unmarked grave until I stumbled upon it by chance. A word of advice, learn how to make scrolls because some of the spells are limited and if you don't have the right spell you can't finish the game. I needed a levitation spell but had no more and would have had to restart Chap. 4 over, but luckily I found the last one hidden in a chest. To be honest the graphics are a little primitive especially the women but that is not a major concern since the game is so good. If you've played Gothic 2, Morrowind, Oblivion and the Witcher then this game is for you. A definite buy.
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on February 25, 2012
If you are looking for a rpg that is old school enough to punish you for not paying attention while new school enough to reward you with a voice acted story, look no further.

Risen, the "unofficial" sequel to Gothic 3 (long story short, Piranha Bytes and their former publisher split ways) is a marvelous gem. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. No DRM on the Amazon version, in case you're wondering, so you can back up the game files if you like.

The only thing that might detract from some modern gamers is the graphics are slightly dated in a way that's hard to describe, though the game is recent. They don't look bad, they just look a little old. Everything else is good in my opinion, and I enjoy the thrill of having to block, parry, and dodge as melee or else suffer certain death.

I got this one when it was on sale for $5.99 but it's worth any asking price up to $50 in my opinion.
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