Piranha Bytes’ heritage of making deep and expansive RPGs somehow got lost over the years. Their desire of returning to their roots for Risen 3: Titan Lords does not go unfulfilled. The European developer delivers on all their promises to make an enjoyable, robust, and even a bit strange of an RPG that imposes no rush on progressing through the story in a timely manner.
Your death is unavoidable in the prologue, and it comes fast. You’ll see familiar characters from Risen 2: Dark Waters appear, as the main character from the prior game never does. Once you get resurrected by Bones, a voodoo priest, you’re off to reclaim your soul that’s been taken from you. And you’re free to do what you want, how and when you please. The game does not suggest that there is a time limit. At a certain pivotal story point, you’ll have to make a choice to join a faction. This sets up the game for three playthroughs. There’s the Demon Hunters, Crystal Mages, and the Voodoo Pirates to align yourself with.
Yes, Voodoo. Pirates.
Risen 3’s combat is largely unchanged. Your character is not the best at targeting, and could accidentally start swinging at what were friendly characters, who are now hostile. Each character has a slightly different form, but you can roll or teleport during combat in addition to parrying to deflect strikes. If done correctly, you can come out of battles unscathed. Magic is back, allowing you to mix up your attacks and give yourself some space when fighting for ranged magical strikes. Or you can press a button to fire a round from your pistol.
In a game that predominately features pirates, swimming is a traversal option that makes sense. And it is finally introduced here, allowing you to jump off from a ship and swim to shore, or use it as a combat tactic to avoid overwhelming numbers of enemies.
The structure of the game is completely open. Only armed with a quest log and “X”s that mark the spot of where to go, the world is yours to plunder. There are hundreds of quests to obtain, which is done by talking to NPCs. There’s no reason not to talk to any that you encounter, unless of course the ones that draw weapons on you. Every NPC is a mobile trader, with their own inventory to barter with. You’ll pick up quests along the way to complete a quest and inadvertently progress the story. Which is great, it makes everything happen organically as sidequests and story quests overlap in areas.
When traveling, you’ll be told what enemies are, but there’s no level number to know if they are above your skill level. It’s just a learning experience, and luckily you can run from a fight to avoid reloading a checkpoint or a save from too long ago. It’s definitely recommended you save often. As you fight, and complete quests, you’ll earn glory. Glory is used to put points into skills. You don’t have to wait for the “ding” of reaching a certain level to allot the points, you can spend them as soon as you have them.
Risen 3 isn’t without problems, though. Most of them are pretty minor, but add to the charm of the game. The voice acting is pretty bad, but given that, the many different characters you’ll be interacting with have very funny pieces of dialogue that is worth hearing. The camera gets out of control from time to time,
Being a game about pirates, there’s a necessity to want to steal everything. And you totally can. You can steal everything that isn’t nailed down. One of the benefits of being able to do so is the lack of any kind of encumbrance unto your character. His pockets are bottomless pits of storage.
The world is massive. These places will seem familiar to those who played Risen 2, as they are all the same ones from that game, but there’s been enough changes to their look to justify revisiting these islands. Wildlife runs rampant, and mostly aggressive towards you, if you even look their way. Risen 3 is a visual upgrade over its predecessor in a lot of ways. Environments are detailed and are filled with striking colors. Not everything looks great though, character faces are fine, but hands are block and oddly proprortional.
Risen 3: Titan Lords is full of weirdness, minor flaws, and combat that can be cheesed. But there’s so much to this world to explore and an endless number of quests that’ll make your head spin. It’s not the best RPG out there, for certain, but it is one of the most unique. After all, you can transform into a parrot and fly around the islands.
A pre-release Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes