Pirates, eye patches, booty, and evil sea gods all make Risen 2: Dark Waters a game worth playing.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed playing Risen 2 (and spent over 24 hours pretending to be an eye-patched pirate), this game has a few problems. Minus the game’s faults, I think developer Piranha Bytes set good sails for this pirate-themed, action RPG.
If you haven’t played the first Risen, you’re going to be a little confused when beginning this game. I’ll try to summarize what’s going on: there are two Titans, Ursegor and Ismael, and they are fighting a wicked battle. Whoever is victorious will most likely crush the city of Caldera and the remaining continent. This city is where the Inquisition is stationed, a military group fighting for humanity’s survival. The Inquisition and inhabitants of Caldera need equipment, soldiers, and supplies to survive. However, another Titan, marine goddess Mara, has unleashed her Kraken; a vicious, squid-esque sea devil. The Kraken has been destroying ships full of supplies and preventing denizens of Caldera from fleeing to the New World. However, there exists a Titan Harpoon, a magical weapon capable of eviscerating Titan lords, particularly Mara. You, the Nameless Hero and Inquisition officer, are sent as a spy to live among pirates who know of the harpoon’s location. After being stripped of your Inquisition rank, you adorn yourself in pirate attire and set sail with some notable peg-leggers. All of this information was, I thought, difficult to sort out in the beginning of the game. There’s a lot of instruction for the Hero but little explanation. Eventually it all came together well but at first I was scratching my head, asking myself “I need to rescue who? Wait, who is setting fire to Caldera? Do I even have a name?” (No, you don’t.) Once I figured out what the heck I was doing, everything was fine!
With the Air Temple and Treasure Island DLC, this game was pretty large and certainly offers more than my mere 24 hours of gameplay. With over 5 islands to travel to and a sufficient amount of quests per island, you’re sure to spend some hefty hours navigating the seas and talking with tribal, island natives. Each island offers a decent amount of exploratory land as well.
Your Hero has 5 attributes (blades, firearms, toughness, cunning, voodoo) that can be increased by collecting glory points. You collect glory points through battle and quest completion. Each attribute has 3 talents (example: slashing weapons for blades or thievery for cunning) and each attribute can be enhanced by learning skills (parry, kick, sneak, etc). Wearing fancy clothes and gear, paying trainers, and eating special plants can all upgrade your attributes. If you ever feel inadequate in an area, get some companions from your crew to accompany you through jungles or fight giant sand crabs on beaches. You can also collect legendary items that permanently increase skills, like pistols or silver tongue skills.
One perk in the game I really enjoyed was being a little monkey! I would use my little monkey to sneak into windows and steal precious booty! There are also some fun mini-games that involve drinking and shooting (awesome). You can also have companions which were cool to have because they offered humorous dialogue and battle help. Word to the wise: do not invite Patty anywhere. She is the most annoying pirate with the lowest cut shirt I have ever seen (and she doesn’t even have cleavage.) Whenever I died Patty would say “What an idiot.” Whether being mauled by a panther or death rolled by an alligator, I was an idiot. (No, Patty, you’re an idiot. It was a *&#%!$# panther).
Risen 2 is also a funny game. A lot of the dialogue was biting and many of the characters were comical. Surprisingly, this game offered a lot of unintentional humor, too. Anytime I approached an NPC who didn’t have a quest for me, they would sneer with “No, I don’t have time right now.” I actually developed a complex because no one ever had time for me. In retaliation, I would run into their house and steal all their food. Overall the expansive world, diverse attributes and skills, and ha-ha dialogue made playing Risen 2 enjoyable. However, there are a lot of problems with this game.
First of all, I experienced a plethora of glitches. Tribal members got stuck in their tepees, my companion Patty disappeared (thank God) multiple times, leaving me stranded on an island, and sometimes my sabre would not slash as I was violently attacked by a giant grave spider. These glitches definitely impaired my gameplay and frustrated me to no end. Another issue is, although some of it was funny, this game has a ton of dialogue. I mean a colossal amount of dialogue. You might think, “Duh! It’s an ARPG! Of course there’s a lot of dialogue.” No, dude. There was so much unnecessary dialogue I often found myself jamming the skip button just so I could get back to playing the game. Another annoyance was I found the map to be relatively unhelpful as it is not labeled in detail. I received a real life, physical map with my game but it would have been convenient to have a nicely labeled map in the game (perhaps this is only a personal preference). Load screens in this game seem terribly long as well which made dying all the more infuriating.
I’m pretty conflicted over the graphics in this game. I thought the water, scenery, and monsters were done well but other features were not. Whenever you dug for treasure chests the ground remained undisturbed even though you just scooped the hell out of it with a giant shovel. The rain didn’t actually fall to the ground but sort of hovered in mid-air. Gameplay was often laggy because the graphics loaded too slowly (or didn’t load at all) and I was frequently staring into the blank, undefined faces of pirates. The character’s themselves were pretty blocky or without detail (like Patty’s zero-cleavage). Also, the running animation in this game is comically bad. As my friend described it, “[the hero] runs like he is clinching a banana between his butt cheeks.” This isn’t to say that the graphics were abysmal, they just weren’t very good either.
I thought the soundtrack for this game was well done. There was fitting, pretty instrumental music that catered to every scene and environment. I also found the voice acting to be very well done, something a lot of video games struggle to achieve. The “f” word was said WAY too much in this game, so frequently that it was obnoxious. I understand dirty mouths are apropos for the riff raff of the sea but the profanity really was excessive. The complimentary sounds of a sword piercing a giant termite, the waves crashing on the beach, or a sailor belching were all positive additions to the game. The crickets chirping in the dark jungles and a storm’s cracking thunder all contributed to a complete atmosphere. The sounds were well done, indeed.
I recommend Risen 2 for ARPG fans and pirate lovers. The game has its faults but I still kept popping it into my Xbox 360 to rack up its achievements and scrounge for good loot. A warning, however, that you do not play this game and immediately compare it to bigger name ARPG’s like The Elder Scrolls. This game has enough merits of its own to stand on!