Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Risen 3: Titan Lords Doesn't Suck

It's been over a decade since Piranha Bytes released a game worthy of praise and recognition. Gothic 3 was a bloated, broken mess that required extensive community patching to make it remotely tolerable; Risen showed some promise but was essentially only half of a game; and Risen 2 was so thoroughly mediocre that I couldn't even write a proper review of it. Gothic and Gothic 2, on the other hand, were such phenomenally outstanding, perception-altering experiences that I'll continue to play every Piranha Bytes game until the day I die, just on the chance that they'll make another masterpiece as good as the original Gothic games.

I'm pleased to say that Risen 3: Titan Lords is the most fun I've had playing a Piranha Bytes game since Gothic 2. That's not to say Risen 3 is as good as Gothic 2, but it comes close. Indeed, there are times when Risen 3 feels a lot like Gothic 2, and it captures the spirit of the original Gothic games better than any other game since. Risen 3 even goes so far as to (finally) fix nearly all of the major issues that afflicted both Risen and Risen 2, making it the most polished and thought-out PB game of the "modern era." At no point did I ever encounter any glaring oversights or questionable design decisions like the things that pissed me off in the other games.

Unfortunately, Risen 3 is not without its problems. The combat is too easy, the progression lacks focus, and the story never really gets going, but compared to previous PB efforts, these problems are minimal and don't actively take away from the game's enjoyment. Rather, it feels as though Risen 3 simply missed some of its potential. It's disappointing to realize how much better the game could have been with some simple tweaks and a little more time in development, but the game itself, as it exists now, is a respectable effort by the small German team that deserves some success. If you like action-adventure-RPGs with immersive worlds that are genuinely fun to explore, then Risen 3 is definitely worth your consideration.