Sunday 25 February 2018

Risen 3: Titan Lords review - combat can be infuriating

Toby Clarke

Risen 3: Titan Lords is the third in the role playing game series from Piranha Bytes, and follows a long trend of RPG releases from the German developer. Partially abandoning the piratical theme of Risen 2, the game sees you assume the role of a soul-less hero on a quest to regain his humanity and (hopefully) save the world from certain destruction in the process.

2/5; PS3, Xbox 360, PC; Deep Silver

The genre line between RPG’s and action/adventure games has become increasingly blurred over the last generation, with games like Dragon Age, and the Mass Effect series streamlining many of the complicated systems often found in such titles. Risen 3 represents a more traditional approach to the genre, with masses of stats, skills and items to work through. The game initially inspires a sense of nostalgic clunkiness reminiscent of games gone by where story was more important than graphics and animation.

The warm fuzzy feeling wears thin however, as soon as you engage your first enemy, to be precise. The combat tries to marry stat based equipment choices with timed attack combos, but ends up being a wholly infuriating, imprecise experience. When you lose you feel it was not your fault, and yet victories feel hollow and undeserved. This could be forgiven in some RPGs, where combat often takes a back seat, but not so here. Enemies are thrown at you left, right and centre, with each encounter becoming more tiresome as you simply try to get from A to B. You’ll soon realise that your AI companion often fares better than you, so end up watching them deal with the dark forces of the world while the hero rolls around on the floor.

Outside of the combat, when you find those brief moments of respite, you’ll instead be trawling through walls of text as you try to figure out exactly what you should be doing. The dialogue is reasonably well written and nearly all voiced, but there is just far too much of it. Characters seem unrealistically verbose and quest details just get lost in the conversation, with the sensible option appearing to be skipping the entire conversation and checking your log for quest details after.

I’m glad more traditional RPGs are still being represented in the genre. Other European releases such as the Witcher series and Divine Divinity have shown that the region has its own distinctive voice that deserves to be heard.

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