Risen 2 Review
Some quirks aside, this pirate-themed RPG offers a finely crafted world that you'll love getting to know
It isn't often that a game world is so well crafted that it stands on its own in making the title worth playing. Risen 2 is a game you should play if you enjoy using games as a form of escapism. The combat is functional but clunky, the story is fun and entertaining but it isn't what keeps you coming back; it's the organically designed world steeped in a unique and well executed pirate theme that will make you fall in love with this charming role playing game. Like its predecessor, Risen 2 is a fleshed out RPG with a lengthy campaign and an emphasis on exploration and completing fun and varied quests. Risen 2 doesn't offer the same level of choice and freedom that its predecessor did, but the trade-off is that its sequel is more accessible, better paced and much more colourful, not to say the first Risen didn't have its fair share of charm.
You start the game with not even a shirt on your back
You start the game off as the same character from the first game, who has in the interim become involved with the militaristic organization called The Inquisition. You learn of the sea-titan Mara who, having been disturbed, has unleashed a Kraken to destroy ships, and who has also indoctrinated several pirates to help her cause. The premise for the story is that you must go undercover with the Pirates, acting as a double agent of sorts who must play both sides in order to defeat the sea-titan. You quickly learn that in order to defeat Mara, you must find and attain four enchanted weapons. While the premise for the story is a bit bland, with Mara being a rather uninspired antagonist, the plot is quite good, with lots of twists and loads of colourful characters using even more colourful language.
Once you progress through the first 10 or so hours of the game, which while a bit slow are still very enjoyable, you gain control of your own ship. From this point forward, the game plays a bit like the first Mass Effect; you recruit crew members who you can bring with you when going ashore, and you can sail freely to islands you have already discovered. Each island is a decent size and loaded with side quests, which range from fairly straightforward gather x amount of y quests to much more interesting ones. These include one where you help a lethargic native with an impressive rifle become Chieftain of a tribe, or another where you compete for a treasure map in a drinking contest with a retired pirate. Often you will need to complete site quests in order to progress with the story, such as early on when you are trying to become a member of a famous pirates crew. The captain is open to your joining, but you must first impress him by helping the pirates located in the camp.
Some enemies can be killed easily if you know their weakness
If you find yourself stuck on a quest or strapped for cash, which is rather hard to come by, the best option is often to head off into the wilderness. You will find or come across treasure maps which will point you to buried treasure, and these are the most sure-fire way to get money. You will also find chests scattered around the island which can be looted, and harvested plants can be sold. When I became stuck on a quest, I often found the solution by exploring the island I was on. You will spend a lot of time exploring, sometimes without a map as you need to find or purchase maps for each island. Fortunately the exploration is extremely enjoyable. It is incredibly immersive to navigate your way through the dense jungle or wade through the shallow waters along the coast, although inevitably you will meet someone or something that wants you dead. There is no regenerating health in Risen 2, instead you must rely on alcohol and provisions to keep you alive. Alcohol can be consumed to instantly restore health, while provisions can be munched in order to allow health to regenerate for a short amount of time.
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