Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition (PlayStation 4) Review

By Leo Epema 06.11.2015

Review for Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

Risen 3: Titan Lords tells the story of the son of a legendary pirate captain, who had his soul taken from him by a Titan, a creature that resides in the Shadow Realm, a sort of limbo where the souls of evil people go to, possibly to try to regain their honour. The Titan who took his soul seemed to be planning for the Shadow Realm to invade the human world. After the hero has his body restored, he goes on a quest to retrieve his soul, and along the way ends up tangled in the Titan's schemes. Is this story an interesting one, and does the combat still reflect the hero's apparent remaining vigour? Cubed3 takes on the PlayStation 4's Enhanced Edition to find out.

Jumping right into the gameplay, the combat is awkward in that it doesn't allow for light and heavy attacks. Instead, the character himself chooses when to use heavy attacks, which doesn't allow for much strategy. The combat doesn't require skill, because it consists of pressing one button over and over, and dodging without a stamina penalty whenever the enemy attacks. The developers claimed it was possible to string together combos, but there is only one three-hit combo, and it doesn't require timing skills or any other skill. The attacks are also slow and clunky at first, and have to be sped up by buying the appropriate skill from a trainer, at which point they become overpowered.

Speaking of buying skills, it's annoying that spells and skills cost large amounts of gold, as most gold is obtained through side quests. This means that in order to level skills, it is obligatory to do a great deal of side quests. Spells can't be learned until a guild is joined, which, arguably, makes sense, but purchasable magic is hard to come by, and crafting them costs many materials. That makes magic mostly unusable for the majority of the game, and then for the rest of it, only one type of magic is available, depending on the guild joined. Something should've been devised to allow the use of magic without these unnatural limitations.

Many weapons follow a gradient of power (some are objectively better or worse than the other), which is a problem typical of modern RPGs that discourages role-playing. There isn't a very large array of weapons to use, either. If one weapon can be used that is stronger than another, seems just as fast, and the other has no magical effects, why use the inferior weapon? If the demon hunters are joined, it doesn't even matter if one is marginally faster than another, because a spell can be obtained that allows faster hitting, essentially stun-locking enemies.

Screenshot for Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

It is reassuring, though, that different weapon types have different effects on different enemies. Some enemies are resistant to slashes, while others appear to have no defence other than to jump away. It is sad, then, that most enemies are equally resistant to the three magic types; they have no weaknesses and no resistances - only the occasional immunity. Most enemies even have the same attack patterns and speed. The types of usable elements do not affect enemies differently; fire doesn't burn, lightning doesn't stun. Add to that the fact that there is almost no variety in spells per magic type (crystal, voodoo and rune), and it's clear the magic system could use work, especially considering it eventually becomes overpowered.

What's also annoying is that the skill teachers are spread out and many islands lack particular teachers, meaning different islands have to be visited just to level up a certain skill. Traveling across the islands is tedious, as many monsters make themselves impossible to avoid. Not only that, but the islands are huge and don't have a fast-travel system in place. To enable fast-travel, teleporting stones must first be found and linked to fast-travel platforms. Those teleporting stones are spread out over the islands, anyway, and the fast-travel platforms even more so. This means that the traveling required to find the teleporting stones already allowed for a chance to do most of the side quests, and that eliminates the point of fast-traveling. The maps also don't have any interesting landmarks aside from the ones that provide quests, and those are spread out too thinly.

What is good is that the game encourages exploration, and leads to finding treasure maps that explain where to find loot, and books explaining where to find legendary weapons. It's just a shame that there aren't many treasures, and the islands don't contain much loot outside of the treasure chests. The fact that most clothing can only be bought takes away some of the magic.

Screenshot for Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

The quests are fairly varied, although most of them are fetch or kill quests. There are some decent little ideas conveyed through the quests, but there are never really any storylines. It just feels like Risen 3 should've taken a page out of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's book when it comes to variety and story. The quests don't often even allow the character to do evil things besides saying something insulting, for minus points on a scale of evil to good. Being evil does attract more enemies to the protagonist, though, which increases the number of enemies to fight, which balances out the perks of getting more gold and items because of the evil intimidation skills.

Sea battles are surprisingly fun because the distance to the monster has to be estimated, and it has to be guessed where it will show up. However, it's annoying that they're compulsory. Overall, the gameplay is decent, with mediocre combat reminiscent of The Witcher 2. It is merely average.

The story is mediocre in that it never really makes the main character connect to the supporting characters, and sometimes it seems to make little sense. The hero starts out simply trying to retrieve his soul, but there is no clear downside to his lack of it. Bones does tell him that he will become a demon once his soul has been gone for a while, but this is not reflected in the gameplay, so there is no urgency to get it back. It's also unclear why becoming a demon is a bad thing, because all that happens in the gameplay is that some characters will give more gold if they are intimidated. There simply is no emotional reason to stay human.

The characters that come along on the journey have no character development and are rather one-dimensional. They never show hesitation to fight with the main character against the shadows, and it never becomes clear how they feel and what they think should be done. Granted, there isn't any decision-making to be done other than 'good or evil.' The characters have no reason to be following the character on his dangerous quest, as they don't even owe him anything. Some of them don't even quite know what the shadows are or how dangerous they are. They also trust the protagonist immediately, for some reason.

Screenshot for Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

At the end of the game, the world is saved as though it wasn't a big deal. The characters wait for the protagonist in a circle and don't appear very emotional, and don't say anything. Then the ship casts off, and that's it.

The soundtrack is quite epic, and it often suits the environments very well. There appears to be only one battle theme, which is a shame. Some sounds are puzzling; for instance, when spiders see the protagonist, they make a sound like a sword being drawn. When enemies are hit, there is usually only one sound they let out. The sounds effects are clear and often sound realistic, though. The voice actors are sometimes great, sometimes subpar. The guild leaders all sound very natural, though, and Eldric is like a grim father figure.

Risen 3 is rather outdated graphically, as the visuals look like they belong in 2008. Stone walls always look very flat, both from up close and fairly far away. The game doesn't look like it's full HD, either. That said, the game can be beautiful at times. The sea moves very organically; it's like every wave moves with its own little current - it all sloshes about beautifully and it looks like the sea is a living thing. The lighting is astonishing, too, as it is never too bright and always colourful and realistic. Fire looks like it crackles and flows just like in real life. The contrast is also amazing, and it's never so dark that details are lost. Characters' faces and clothes get recycled, but it is not very apparent.

Screenshot for Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Risen 3 is one of those RPGs that could've been much better, mostly because the action (combat, mainly) gets more attention than the RPG elements, and even then, the action isn't deep or varied. The story is very basic and the characters can only be called characters in the sense that they play a particular shtick. It is not a challenging game, not unless all points are allocated to skills not related to combat. Nonetheless, the environments are beautiful, it's good to get weapons and clothing that can be used to role-play, and the core gameplay is solid. There are some decent quests, too. Just avoid the immense amount of bugs by saving often; otherwise all progress might be lost.

Developer

Piranha Bytes

Publisher

Deep Silver

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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