Developed by German developer Pirahna Bytes, Risen
is a third-person Western RPG
released in 2009. It is very
similar to the games of the Gothic
series made by the developers before they left their former publisher and lost the rights to the franchises name. One of its signature elements is the combat system: You can parry weapons, dodge, and break the enemy's guard, similar to a fighting game. The game is somewhat similar in nature to that of Oblivion
, but instead of everything being randomly generated (leaving you to the mercy of level scaling
), everything is hand-placed by the developers, and leveling is accomplished by paying trainers to slowly raise your stats. This approach in execution makes leveling up feel more like a real accomplishment rather than flipping a flag that gives you instant mastery
over all types of weapons, as is usual in this genre. Reviews for this game were generally positive for the PC, but the Xbox360 port received mixed reviews.
The sequel, titled Risen 2: Dark Waters
continues a story from the first game with the same protagonist. This time he tries to stop Titan Lords from awakening Titans who lay the world to waste. It takes place in a tropical setting (read:Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!
) and introduces several new elements, like firearms. The reception, from both critics and fans, for the PC release was not as positive as with the original, and the console ports received a much more negative reaction. Risen 3: Titan Lords
was released in 2014 and had a similarly mixed reception.
Contains examples of:
- Acrophobic Bird: The Sea Vultures. Incidentally, there aren't really flying enemies in the game, just giant moths that hover above the ground.
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The only charity you can hope for is NPCs offering to sell you better gear at outrageous prices.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: There's even a clifftop monastery, where... well, you get the idea.
- An Adventurer Is You: There are three classes depending on what faction you join: Bandit, Mage and Warrior of the Order.
- Beef Gate: You can generally get a good idea of where you're not supposed to be on the island by whether or not the enemies in the area can one-shot you.
- BFS: If you invest a lot of points in the Sword skill you will eventually be able to wield double-handed swords in one hand. And wave them around like they're made of styrofoam.
- Black and Grey Morality: The two main factions are a group of fanatical Knight Templar and a bandit clan. You have to side with one of them. Though the Bandits have a bit of a moral edge due to the fact that the Bandit leader is the rightful ruler of the island who was ousted by the Knight Templars.
- There is the chance to join a third faction, but it requires earning enough favor with both of the previous factions to enter the main city undetected, and then prove your worthiness to the third faction before the Knights Templar faction forces you to join them.
- But Thou Must: Pretty much all conversations that are part of the main questline resolve in this manner.
- You are also forced into joining a faction at the beginning of the game; no Fallout-style tearing ass through the countryside with level 25 equipment and ignoring the plot for you.
- Tevhnically you can explore 90% of the island before joining any faction and clear out all monsters and loot (including weapons) from there, you don't have acces to advanced training (which is crucial) and armor (even more so) though so accomplishing this requires exploting all the tricks you can think of and even then it is a trully masochistic task.
- Cave Behind the Falls: At least two.
- Captain Ersatz: The entire game world is Gothic with the serial numbers filed off. This is taken to the point where there is nothing stopping it from taking place in the same world beyond (now non-existent) legal reasons.
- The backstory of the game is similar to one of the endings of Gothic 3.
- Character Class System: Each of the three factions fill one of the traditional fantasy class niches. The Bandits represent warriors, the Order of the Holy Flame represents mages, and the Inquisition is a mix of the two.
- Cherry Tapping: A very good way to take care of higher-level mooks is to shoot them with an arrow, then lead them back to any spot with invincible or high-level NPCs, and allow said people to beat away 95% of the monster's HP away, leaving you to cherry-tap it to death at your leisure.
- Deadpan Snarker: Unique in that the playable character is one, despite the fact that he is otherwise an AFGNCAAP. You also can't "change" his personality with a Karma Meter, unlike in most Western RPGs.
- Durable Deathtrap: Any deathtrap you spot is a functioning deathtrap. No exceptions.
- Give Me Your Inventory Item: Played straight. If you go the Bandit route, early on you will be asked to hand over a very decent sword. You can keep it, but at the cost of seriously pissing off several important NPCs (hint: it's not worth it).
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Actually, one of the central premises of the game. Mendoza's Ocular enables its wearer to see (and thus fight) the Titans.
- Good Is Not Nice: The Hero, Ursegor, the Bandits...
- Grave Robbing: Annoyingly, you need to do it to advance the main questline and most graves contain nothing but deathtraps.
- Healing Potion: But of course.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Inverted, the player and Ursegor are the only humans who wear helmets.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: The amount of gear you can potentially carry would sink a cargo ship.
- Infinity–1 Sword: Several, actually (i.e. the Titan weapons). There's one for every possible weapon spec.
- Infinity+1 Sword: You need it to damage the Big Bad.
- In Working Order: All the levers, buttons, drawbridges and especially deathtraps function perfectly despite the dilapidated and partially collapsed state of the underground temples in which they're found.
- Item Crafting: You can craft your own weapons and jewelry.
- Knight Templar: The Inquisition.
- Lizard Folk: Saurians.
- Money Sink: Some of the better equipment pieces and high-level skills can burn quite a hole in your pocket unless you're very compulsive about hoarding treasure.
- Mythology Gag: Captain Gregorius Steelbeard shares the name with captain Greg, leader of the pirates in Gothic II: Night of the Raven.
- Nintendo Hard: This game makes you earn your right to call yourself a badass, and doesn't let you forget it.
- Only I Can Kill Him: Crammed in with a crowbar towards the end of the game...
- Our Ghouls Are Creepier: They'll stunlock you good.
- Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Small, funny Ugly Cute creatures, who love nothing more than taking things, wether it's by scavenging, theft or by force. When they attack you they throw random things, including fish.
- Our Ogres Are Hungrier: Big and strong, speak slowly, claim to have no real interest in gold while charging the player a fortune for training.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: The only way to determine that a given enemy is way beyond your level is to start hacking away and monitor its healthbar. Unless it drops noticeably, you now have a life expectancy of about 1.2 seconds.
- Real Is Brown
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Fire Titan locked away in the volcano.
- Sealed Good in a Can: Ursegor..
- Spikes of Doom: And you can't even tiptoe through them...
- Spiritual Sequel: Risen is essentially Gothic IV with all the names changed thanks to the developers getting Screwed by the Network.
- There was no network Screw. At one point, Piranha Bytes and JoWood were practically the same company, but JoWood was unhappy at the bad release version of Gothic 3. They apparently decided to go their seperate ways at least politely, if not happily. The contract between them specified that JoWood had the rights to Gothic.
- Super Drowning Skills: Anything beyond waist-deep water, and you either sink and wash over to the nearest shore, or get swallowed by a giant worm-thing and wash over to the nearest shore. Really more of a sandboxing mechanism.
- The Spanish Inquisition: Is it really a coincidence that the Inquisitor's name is Mendoza...?
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Big circular arena directly atop a live volcano vent. Bonus points for having the only entrance collapse immediately after you enter.
- Too Awesome to Use: Most potent magic scrolls, if you don't actually level magic. The Dragon is pathetically weak and the Big Bad is immune to magic anyway so you're quite likely to never use those Inferno scrolls you've hoarded...
- Twenty Bear Asses: Very commonly required for sidequests and you typically get no warning whatsoever that a particular kind of bear ass will be necessary to advance some questline. This leads to compulsive collecting of all sorts of bear asses you come across during your travels.
- Unusable Enemy Equipment: Justified. You cannot wield ogre clubs (too big), and Saurian swords (also not meant for humans) require a strength level disproportionate to their effectiveness.
- Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Mendoza can be dispatched in about 4 blows. You are also far more likely to accidentally fall to your death during the final boss fight than to actually die to said boss' attacks.
- We Buy Anything: And I do mean anything! The poorest peasant can and will take any amount of treasure off your hands. Unlike in early Gothic, no NPC ever runs out of money.
Sequel contains examples of:
- Bag of Spilling: Hero of the first game, who single-handedly defeated a Titan initially finds it difficult to kill warthogs and crabs. Explained in-game by showing that the hero started to hit the bottle after rather traumatic experiences on Faranga. All magic items except voodoo items also lost their power.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Argument between Doggs and Foster consists basically of one word used in various ways.
- Jaffar, who learned human language by listening to pirates. Although his innocents use of curses also qualifies for Precision F-Strike.
- Combat Tentacles: Kraken and Mara although the latter uses them for rather cosmetic purposes.
- Corrupt Hick: Di Fuego has all traits of one.
- Dead Hat Shot: After Steelbeard's demise.
- Dead Person Impersonation: Captain Garcia who kills Officer Corrientes and assumes his identity, knowing that the protagonists have never met killed man in person.
- Eyepatch of Power: The protagonist sports one. It hides the Mendoza's Ocular. Also Steelbeard.
- Actually the ocular had to be removed (along with the hero eye) because of the curse that was on it, still when people comment about it they seem to think that is a sgn of a true badass rather than a handicap.
- Fantastic Racism: Guards almost always treat native slaves disparagingly.
- Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Di Fuego, although more along the lines of 'fat sweaty Spaniard in white waistcoat'.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: Mara. She doesn't really get any kind of personality or goal other than *Conquer the Sea* and appears no more than 3 times in total.
- Giant Squid: Kraken, first seen in the intro.
- Hollywood Voodoo: Played back and forth. It is predominantly a magic system (with voodoo dolls nonetheless) but characters explain that for the natives voodoo is a religious practice based on the worship of Tiwas (Titans) that are presented much like Loa.
- Hot Librarian: Cassandra.
- Large Ham: Captain Gregorius Emanuel Steelbeard.
- Mythology Gag: The gate to Garcia's treasure is opened by a password. One of the possible answers given to a player is 'Tetriandoch', a password used to enter Saturas' chamber in the first installment of Gothic series.
- In Caldera Archives there is a book on rune magic. Nameless Hero comments that it is ridiculously outdated.
- Talk Like a Pirate: Pretty much averted in original, yet English version has its share of The West Country accents. Steelbeard also swears like expected from a stereotypical fantasy pirate.
- Pirate Parrot: You also can train one!
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Mara. And then she gets released by pirate captains.
- Shout Out: Cassandra says that archivist's job is boring, but the 'X Section' of the Caldera archive provides a interesting read.
- The cutscene after the Nameless Hero leaves the Isle of Thieves is a recreation of the opening scene from Roman Polanski's Pirates (1986).
- Take a stroll along a beach and you'll soon run into some Giant Enemy Crabs. You can indeed flip them over (by kicking them) to attack their weak points for massive damage.
- In the german version, there are many references to Gothic, some dialogues are even completely copied (and often put into a comedic context).
- Sword and Gun: It's a pirate game, after all. Many characters, including Nameless Hero uses such combination.
- The Underworld: Nameless Hero pays it a visit to find some clues.
- X Marks The Spot: Literally. After you get a hold of a treasure map, location of the treasure will be marked with large X on the ground.
- Welcome to Corneria: Usually averted although Steelbeard on Tagarigua has one pretty colourful line he repeats every time PC comes near him.
Risen 3 contains examples of:
- Charged Attack: Melee attacks can be charged for a really long time, which makes the fights look like Bullet Time sometimes.
- Cherry Tapping: Much easier than in Risen 2 thanks to the return of your evade move.
- Elemental Punch: The main spells cost nothing and can be chained in combos like melee attacks. The only difference to melee is that they can hit multiple targets.
- Flunky Boss: The Shadow Lords, Nekroloth.
- Magic Knight: Guardians
- Meaningful Name: Taranis, an island sporting a perpetual dry thunderstorm and a home to several lighting-attracting monoliths shares its name with Celtic god of thunder.
- Mythology Gag / Continuity Nod: There're several Shout Outs to Gothic, e.g. recurring enemies like Scavengers and Dragonsnappers.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Magic if you're playing a Guardian. Magic influences the damage your spells do, and also the power of your support spells (for example, Healing and Rust ). This means that high magic not only equals high damage, but also provides infinite healing and let's you bypass the lockpick minigame.
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: You can meet the Nameless Hero on Calador.
- Puzzle Boss: The Ore Titan.
- Quicksand Box: A big problem with this game is that it gives you tons of stuff to do at the very beginning, even though you're in no way equipped or leveled enough for them. It also gives you not much backstory about the Titans, the Titan Lords etc. which is problematic if you're new to the Risen franchise. Ironically, these are the same mistakes Gothic 3 made.
- Remember the New Guy: The new Main Character comes out of nowhere, but almost everyone treats him as if he's always been a big part of the Risen universe.
- A borderline example, as he is a brother of an important NPC from the previous two games and a son of a famous pirate leader that plays an important role in the second installment, so players who played 'Risen' and 'Riosen 2' are familiar with at least his family.
- Talk Like a Pirate: Averted for the most part, and even played for laughs by Colby, who does exactly that (with a complimentary 'arrr', no less) and promptly gets called on this by a protagonist.