Doesn’t Rise to the occasion

Risen is an RPG from over a century ago which saw a release on PC and the box 360, the idea of playing an RPG from so long ago on a modern console is both intriguing and worrying especially when the game is just a port with some updated UIs and the ability for the system to be mapped using a controller. You play as an unnamed character who is washed ashore on an Island and finds himself in a bit of bother with the local wildlife, after finding a stick and fending the monsters away he finds another survivor and they head further inland.

The problems of such an old game become apparent straight away, the fighting seems somewhat janky with attacks looking like they miss and enemies being very aware of your presence, during many of the fights with wolves, goblins and oversized porcupines early on they have a habit of moving away and counterattacking when you try to attack, this ends up with battles seeming largely unfair early on, the main character is also completely lacking in character, this can be forgiven I guess considering the year it came out, other characters or NPC’s are voiced really well and do have a persona about them, it’s not perfect by any means but so much better than similar games that I have heard at the time.

Graphically the game looks okay if not a bit dated but if anything the graphics really work in its favour, the atmosphere of being on a deserted island is one that doesn’t go away. As you are shipwrecked on an island during a thunderstorm in the night the immense nearby danger is really foreboding. The general aesthetics are done really well, there are secret caves early on which are no-go areas and this is a theme that carries on throughout. I came across an abandoned tomb early on to which I stumbled almost to my death surrounded by enemies, this was a great way to introduce me to two mechanics, torches and traps, this small tomb carried a good amount of treasure but was almost my first downfall, I got out barely alive but it was a great little stepping stone in teaching me the mechanics of the game so I knew what to expect going forward.

Considering how janky the combat is and how the interface menus are more suited to a mouse, the controls work surprisingly really well. Here you can see your stats, equip your character with weapons and armour as well as see your inventory as depicted as squares showing your inventory slots, pretty much standard considering the age of the game.

The gameplay starts out pretty substandard as you start to club or hack enemies to death depending on what weapons you find early on, this means by the time you do get the good stuff you might already be fed up with the gameplay loop that the game starts out with. There are magic and summoning spells that become available much later in the game but you need to venture through hours of hack and slash, which doesn’t fare well in this game.

Enemies do not respawn in Risen ever so once you have felled an enemy, consider it gone for good. The game has a quest system which is your primary source of Experience points. There are no markers for quests so doing these requires reading and knowledge or otherwise looking online. When the game does become less linear this really does create a feeling of a more open world and one you will explore to its ends just so you haven’t overlooked anything.

Risen is a game from over a decade ago so while most of it still holds up well today, a direct port onto PS4 means it is severely lacking with some touches and comparing it to similar games it’s easy to walk away from Risen and be tempted by other games elsewhere. The major setback here is the constant crashes when the game decides to autosave when going into a new area, this is despite the game having received a patch recently but this still seems to be an ongoing issue. The game also slightly pauses when it does this and if it does autosave count yourself lucky if it hangs however then the game has crashed and all you can do is close and reload into it, sure the autosave can save you and there is no way to turn this off but you can still lose hours of progress. Making sure to save the game every few minutes is not a fun way to play at all.