by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
By any other name
I have to admit that I feared we had seen the end of the Gothic franchise when Piranha Bytes and Jowood declared their dying love. Jowood foolishly insisted on creating an addon for Gothic 3, named Forsaken Gods and delivered a dork of a game whose 1's and 0's were not fit to live on your hard-drive. Free from the Jowood imposed yoke, Piranha Bytes went on to create what may be their best game yet. Risen might not carry the Gothic name, but it is a Gothic game to the very fiber of its lovingly crafted bones. For this reason, I decided to review Risen as if it were a continuation of the Gothic series.
Risen is set on the island of Faranga where a number of disturbing events have upset the balance of power, throwing the population into chaos. Ancient temples have risen from the ground, some of which accessible, others barred by a seemingly impenetrable magical shield. From the temples, hordes of alien looking creatures submerged, taking over the countryside and making it unsafe for anyone to travel between the island's main locations.
Then, the Inquisition arrived to the island, bringing word of even bigger chaos from the mainland. The Inquisition believes that the solution to the world's problems lies on Faranga and has taken over Harbor City, the island's main population center and put it under martial law. They began to investigate the temples for clues, making an enemy out of anyone who dares to stand in their way. To make matters worse, all contact with the mainland is broken off by violent storms that will destroy any ship that dares to set sail.
Choose your path
The game starts as storms claim yet another victim and shipwreck the ship that the player was on. You wash up on the shores of Faranga finding only one other survivor among your former shipmates' dead bodies. Cold and hungry you set out to find any sign of civilization. It is not long before you meet someone who tells you where you are and what options you have for survival on the island. It is here that Risen's two factions are introduced and you will have to start figuring out in which direction you would like to develop your character.
Joining Don Esteban, you will fight on the side of the rebels that once controlled Harbor City. Esteban is the underdog working to drive out the invaders. His men are hunters and skilled bow and melee fighters. On the other side is the Order, composed of warriors who prefer to fight with spears and sticks and mages who rely on magic to end their quarrels. You do not have to make your choice right away but if you favor one faction too much, the other no longer allows you to join. After you cross that line, you can train in many of the skills of the opposing faction but not be able to master them.
Warmly familiar to fans of the Gothic series. Stable.
Very few, but did they really have to use F8 for Quick Save and F9 for Quick load?