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Video Game / Risen

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Developed by German developer Piranha 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. The game is somewhat similar in nature to that of Oblivion, but instead of of using level scaling), every enemy 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.

The sequel, titled Risen 2: Dark Waters continues the 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. Risen 3: Titan Lords was released in 2014, starring a new protagonist.

Contains examples of:

  • Acrophobic Bird: The Sea Vultures. Incidentally, there aren't really flying enemies in the game, just giant moths that hover just 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: Subverted. There's even a clifftop monastery, but the staff-wielding recruits are trained by the Inquisition coming from mainland. The original inhabitants, the Mages, are mostly concerned with studying magic.
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  • 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 that you're not supposed to be on certain parts of the island if enemies in these areas 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.
    • Most two handed swords count, but the absolute king of this trope in Risen is Titanwing, the best sword in the game, which is hinted to be Forged by the Gods before they forcefully left the planet.
  • 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.
      • Technically 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 access 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 truly masochistic task.
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  • 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 also very similar to one of the endings of Gothic 3, strongly implying that this is the same world set some time in the future.
  • Character Class System: Notably averted. It's true that each of the three factions sort of fills one of the traditional fantasy class niches. The Bandits represent warriors (or thieves), the Order of the Holy Flame represents mages, and the Inquisition is a mix of the two. However, most of the abilities you can learn are class-independent. The exception is the "Seal" skill, which allows characters to cast spells directly from Runes and is exclusive to Mages (everyone else needs to copy Runes into scrolls first, so technically everyone can still cast spells). Crystal Magic skills, which allow characters to fire magical bolts, are not taught to Bandits, but you can craft an amulet that lets you use them.
  • 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 Sword of Plot Advancement. You can keep it, but at the cost of seriously pissing off some NPCs.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Comes into play near the end 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: One of the main quests requires digging up pirates' graves, most of which contain deathtraps.
  • Grey-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.
    • 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 to prevent The Knights Templar faction from drafting you.
  • Healing Potion: But of course.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Inverted, the player and Ursegor are the only humans who wear helmets.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Various types of food instantly heals you.
  • 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 or even two for every possible weapon type.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: A hammer, actually. 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. No exceptions.
  • Item Crafting: You can craft your own weapons and jewelry if you have the Smithing skills. You don't need skill to cook, only recipes.
  • Knight Templar: The Inquisition.
  • Lizard Folk: Saurians.
  • Low Fantasy: Like the Gothic games before, the Risen series generally fits this trope nicely. Magic exists, but is not available to the public and, in later games, openly hated by the Inquisition and related factions for its ties to the gods and titans, there's generally only one other vaguely humanoid race of importance (Saurians in Risen 1, the Gnomes in the sequels) and even though you may end up saving the world in the process, your main goal is more along the lines of survival and other personal quests. There may be some more High Fantasy elements at place depending on the game, but the general tone is squarely Low Fantasy, with characters being jaded and snarky, and dark humour being the norm.
  • Money Sink: Notably absent. While you can splurge on the better equipment pieces, you can also skip and save the money. By joining the Inquisition or Mage factions, you get your armor for free; the best weapons can be found or crafted. However, in the end, you will end up with tens of thousands of gold coins with nothing to spend on, unless you exploit a GoodBadBug and use them to buy experience points.
  • 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, whether 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, have no real interest in gold but one charges the player a fortune for training because he needs to buy food.
  • 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 will need to spend a good five minutes to kill it, unless you give up and run away first.
  • 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 some (now resolved) legal shenanigans between developer Piranha Bytes and publisher JoWood.some explanation 
  • 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.
    • This would only be averted in the third game, where you can swim to your heart's content, the only limitations being that you will be bounced back if you go a certain distance from the shore, and you can't dive.
  • 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...
  • 20 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). Saurian swords (also not meant for humans), while usable, require a strength level disproportionate to their effectiveness.
    • Using console commands to give normal weaponry to Lizards, though, will increase their damage output significantly.
  • 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 trader can and will take any amount of treasure off your hands. Unlike in early Gothic, no NPC ever runs out of money.

Risen 2 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.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": From this game onwards, Experience Points in the Risen series are referred to as "Glory" instead.
  • 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. Also Steelbeard.
  • 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.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Usually averted although Steelbeard on Tagarigua has one pretty colourful line he repeats every time PC comes near him.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: You need experience points and training just to learn how to kick people

Risen 3 contains examples of:

  • A Taste of Power: You start the game off with decent gear and mid-game stats (50's in most skills) before the end of the tutorial. After that you lose most of your gear and all your skills are reduced down to 10.
  • Aura Vision: Astral Vision, a special ability the player character gains as a side effect from almost dying. Interestingly, it's an upgradeable skill and your chosen faction determines which kinds of upgrades are available to you.
  • Bee Bee Gun: The main combat spell for Voodoo Pirates is a swarm of wasps you throw at enemies.
  • Boobs of Steel: Patty's a much more capable fighter than she's been in the previous games, and her breasts grew accordingly.
  • But Thou Must!: A minor sidequest actually inverts this; no matter how much you want to, the player character will not agree to sweep the entire storehouse. A "But Thou Can't", if you will.
  • Charged Attack: Melee attacks (including combat magic) 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 you can't block but hit multiple targets.
  • Experience Booster: Freddie's Shackles. They're DLC items, so this counts as a mild form of Bribing Your Way to Victory.
  • Flash Step: Demon Hunters, including the player character if he joins them, have access to a short-range teleport that replaces their dodge roll.
  • Flunky Boss: The Shadow Lords, Nekroloth, the Titan Lord of Death.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Titan Lord Ursegor, in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, directly refers to a dimension outside the Risen universe. When the main character asks questions about it, Ursegor merely replies that a mortal couldn't comprehend it anyway.
  • How We Got Here: In a variation of this trope, the game does not start In Medias Res and then explains itself. Instead, the vision / Dream Sequence of the tutorial level later plays out for real, and you get to see how exactly it ends and concludes.
  • Karma Meter: The Soul meter, which determines how various NPCs react to you, how loyal your crew will be, and what ending you'll get.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: There is a lot of stuff to do in this game, to the point where the optional sidequests might actually be seen as the main appeal of this game.
  • Magic Knight: In contrast to the other Risen (and Gothic) games, this is a playstyle viable to every guild now, not just the pure Mages / Paladins. That being said, the Mage Guardians are the only guild with access to multiple unique magical skills and upgrades, emphasizing this trope.
  • 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.
  • Money for Nothing: While all the Risen (and Gothic) games eventually get you to a place where money no longer serves a purpose, Risen 3 is notable for practically starting at that point. The tutorial quest alone showers the player in cash, and while there's Money Sinks everywhere (training your skills is expensive), even the most minor sidequest usually awards you with hundreds of gold, making the high vendor prices meaningless.
  • Mordor: Skull Island, with all its lava and swamps and hellish landscapes.
  • Mythology Gag / Continuity Nod: There're several Shout Outs to Gothic, e.g. recurring enemies like Scavengers and Dragonsnappers.
  • Not as You Know Them: The Nameless Hero, former main character of the series, appears as a somewhat somber cameo that explains how it's "Not his job" to save the world this time. Quite a departure from the Determinator he was in the previous games.
  • The Older Immortal: Margoloth is the first (and therefore oldest) living being in the Risen world, which makes her at least older than the titular Titan Lords, and maybe even older than the titans and gods themselves.
  • 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.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The new protagonist comes out of nowhere, but almost everyone treats him as if he's always been a big part of the Risen universe.
  • Same Character, but Different: Happens to basically all returning characters, with the exception of Patty. Bones, once quiet and melancholy, became an outrageous and boisterous caricature, Inquisitor Mendoza went from Well-Intentioned Extremist to Card-Carrying Villain...
  • Shout-Out: In addition to the above-mentioned Gothic allusions, there also the Buried Treasure of a certain "Captain Morgan". It's a treasure chest filled with booze, which your main character promptly lampshades.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: The Isle of Thieves has a few of them.
  • Take Your Time: Common in all three Risen games, but especially egregious here because your companions will tell you all day how important it is for you to quickly gain back your soul unless you wanna end up as a mindless minion. There's never any real urgency to your quest, might as well idle and complete all the optional side content.
  • 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.
  • Time Abyss: Margoloth, the first living being that ever existed in the entire Risen universe.
  • Your Soul is Mine!: The game starts with the player character losing most of his soul and humanity to Nekroloth, the Titan Lord of Death. Your main motivation in this game is to gain them back.


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