Gothic was one of the most loved series among other RPGs, reason was simple: Gothic brought totally new system of leveling, combat, new dark atmosphere, different classes and also interesting plot. You didn’t care about bugs (and there were plenty), as it was totally addictive game which you could play over and over with different character class. Then Gothic II came out, everyone was surely excited that the plot is continued, it turned out to be interesting (Dragons in Gothic, woo!), world became a lot bigger, all the friendly characters that you remember from G1 also were there. So I can surely say that Gothic II was a success, it was just as addictive as Gothic, a bit different yet in a good way, so where did everything go wrong? Gothic 3… I wouldn’t even call it Gothic, that was such a fail and misunderstanding.
Skipping sad Gothic 3, here we are – Risen. It was supposed to become a game which would resemble Gothic(plot, nameless main character, overall system)but still would be in totally new world. And how it worked out? It looks like a cheap copy of Gothic – You start by trying to get to the town, then you have the choice of sides, then you have to do few important missions to get there, then they tell you about SUM FIN GOIN WONG in the temples, therefore you have to find discs which can open the main temple to the volcano(here basicly the plot dies) – now there’s no matter what happens outside the temple, it changes nothing. All you have to do is keep going through it, with all these basic traps and what-not to do from OTHER temples all over the island, and finally get to the main boss. Sounds familiar? Yet Gothic 1 temple was totally mysterious and scary, and here? ‘I was in something like that before!’ you keep killing same Lizardmen just in better armors, you keep using same scrolls/runes to avoid same predictable traps… Ehh. I didn’t even complete the game, when they told me that to open the last door to the boss I’ve got to go through ANOTHER 5 TEMPLES – I gave up. Apart from the plot, obviously leveling system is same as in Gothic.
What about differences? Leveling weapons changed. Now you need 10 levels to master one weapon, let’s say I picked bow.. Omg I picked bow! Now I have to go with my awesome bow through half the game knowing that I’m shit at close combat and that every next level gives me.. 10% reload speed. That’s it. 1 lvl of bow – 10% faster reload, 10 level – 100% faster. Hurray, yet with only one way to kite (jumping down the cliff) with acrobatics it seems a bit dumb. I found like 5-6 bows in game. Which were pretty much : Someone’s Bow, Short Bow, Long Bow, Horn Bow, War Bow, Even though there are awesome swords like Stormwind or Souldrainer(or something), there’s no Cool Bow. No variety in arrows either, all arrows are the same, there are no fire arrows nor anything magic about them. In G1/2 – Bow was very optional, you could level it, but it wouldn’t take half of the game and therefore it would be handy unless someone gets close, NOT IN RISEN! Here we jump on high stones to make wolves run around and shoot them down one by one. (That’s the only logical way to fight Wolves, unless I use close combat weapon). Trainers are just random, some guy on the swamp is the best teacher in archery evur, where that came from? He got it by killing Rotworms? Diego could kill goddamn dinosaurs, but that guy never killed a ghoul! (I helped him, dude almost died). Uh.. Well.. Swords – they’re not separated anymore, now you either go in swords or not, there’s no variety like in Gothics, to pick either 1H or 2H, but here instead you got 1,5h swords, wow! Risen appearently didn’t go in the direction of realism, and instead it went for cheap-solutions, so for example, you learn to use all kinds of swords at once! Heck, you can wield two of them. Other weapons(Axes, Crossbows) aren’t worth mentioning, I haven’t tried magic, so I will stay quiet about that part of the game.
Other difference is that they actually CLONED NPCs with names. You can see same Smith all over the island with different names. Feels damn cool doesn’t it? That guy surely has teleporting runes in his pants, and he’s working for ‘two sides’. Obviously it’s not only about the Smith, there are lots more. Another change is that you can’t swim. Either you get thrown on the beach by some kind of Sea-creature that doesn’t like people but doesn’t hate them enough to eat them, or by going too far you simply die. (Havent seen that one though) Nevertheless, there’s no purpose for swimming, you don’t have to swim because there’s nowhere to swim to. Gothic-like plot twist? God no, just a Mage going nuts to have a Titan as a pet, classic. Even half of the NPCs in the game told you ‘Dude when that guy goes bad – don’t follow him!’ and they said that before he DID ANYTHING AT ALL. Making it so damn obvious. Not to mention, when he finally snapped, there was no choice to follow him.
Also, there are no NPCs which your character would be happy to see in another Risen, neither would you. Uh, maybe that girl from the brothel, but as I remember that was 2sec fun. Ah and there was of course that woman whose daddy was a Pirate and you had to help her to find his treasure and in the end leave her closed in a skeleton fortress or just open it and give her map with all her daddy’s treasures on it so she can become damn rich, but whatever, not like I can swim, go girl, get crazy!
Now, to look at the game from a completely different angle – It’s really average. It may be funny at first, but the further it goes it gets worse. Plot, weapons and armors (no runic swords or awesome armors made by someone you know because you brought him a lot of skins, horns and whatever) are just too simple, without anything new to it. The game indeed has its ‘Exploring Fun’ in it, to find hidden treasures etc. and combat system which is more complicated than Gothic’s but other than that, there’s nothing interesting. If they showed a poster with Risen 2 on it, with the same main hero and the temple behind him, I’d probably puke.