"Risen 2 the Top"
Right now, I think there should be a lot of love for pirate-themed games. Zombies spread across gaming like some sort of plague and have since more or less died out, leaving room for new games to take their place. That is where I wish pirate games could have volleyed in and cleared the deck for something amazing. For me, this is what I wanted Risen 2 to be, and unfortunately, I feel it fell short in a lot of areas.
Starting with the graphics, I think Risen 2: Dark Waters is a great-looking game. You can either be content with being a gruff, swarthy pirate type or you can try a different game. It's really that simple when it comes to what is laid out for you. Like many games, it just looks great. It's really hard to have an issue with the graphics, per say, but I have major issues with the environments. Everywhere I went was just town after town for the most part, and Risen 2 does a great job of illustrating that not everyone is a pirate, but I really wanted to have some pirating happen. I wanted grimy cutscenes and environments as well as boats and islands for which to look for treasure. I just felt that this important nod to a pirate game wouldn't go overlooked.
Gameplay as well isn't bad. It's really simple and accessible, and combat goes quickly and maybe that's where I started losing interest. I feel that Risen could have been a much better game if it adopted a more Skyrim-style approach to skills. Unfortunately, I had to go around and pay people to be better at some skills which, as the protagonist, made me feel that even the roadside prostitute that looked absolutely awful was better at seduction than my pivotal, important character was. Every skill and everyone just made me feel awful at what I was doing, because I could always just take my money and pay to learn from an unimportant street urchin. Given this important fact, the game as a whole plays well, but the execution of certain systems pulled me out of the game and made me feel like I didn't matter as a main character. This is likely a totally personal matter, but if you have to pay an NPC to be better at a skill, it should be a really big ordeal to me, and not just a simple "+1 to seduction" sort of thing.
Don't get me wrong about how much fun this game is. It's absolutely great to be a non-nondescript, anonymous protagonist pirate. One might even say anti-hero, given the setting for Risen 2: Dark Waters, and there is something to be found in that. It's a great little single-player game that could have done well in this zombie void, and I feel that's part of the reason it fell short. It's definitely one of those games that is worth giving a try, and you won't be disappointed with how immersive it can be. It's an amazing world that could have gotten a lot more exposure, but it was most definitely hindered by internal mechanics. The only downside to this is that the world is wholly too immersive at times and you lose sight of the plot or of anything significant, unlike in other games of a similar disposition. Were this to be reigned in, the game would definitely feel more smooth and in an odd way feel much more complete than it is now.
Overall, don't let this deter you from wanting to give Risen 2 a try. Again, it's a solid game that deserves a chance, but there were just too many issues for me to personally deal with it being an 'amazing' game. If you love the idea of pirates, Lovecraftian elder gods, magic, voodoo, and the high seas, then this is definitely a game for you.
GameDynamo's Score for Risen 2: Dark Waters (PC)
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