I’ve never played a Risen game before, not for any particular reason, just that it was always on a list of ‘Maybe I’ll give that a go when I run out of other things to play”. Yet since the original release in 2009 I have never run out of things to play.
That’s still the case in all honesty, but my PS4 has been a little bit neglected of late aside from Bloodborne so what the hell.
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of mid-tier games, I think they are the bread and butter of gaming and for me, Risen 3: Titan Lords sounded like a bonafide mid-tier title. Which meant I was expecting something that would be full of little frustrations, but that would ultimately not ruin the overall fun factor.
As much as I want to shout from the rooftops that this is a perfect mid-tier addition to your library, I fear I cannot and there are many, many reasons for that.
Firstly the game feels extremely clunky. The character movement seems to lack any kind of smoothness and even feels like you are walking through mud for the most part as you explore the world around you. This gets even worse during combat.
You have some pretty simple controls, using R2 to parry attacks, the X button to attack back, holding it for strong attacks and R1 to use a secondary weapon. Having things be this basic should allow for you to really get into fights, but if anything you feel like you are fighting against the controls, rather than just the enemies.
There seems to be this odd delay between making an attack and trying to get a parry in and this isn’t just a timing thing either, because it feels like if you try and press a different button before an animation has finished, it won’t even register the press.
I’ve not got an issue with animations finishing, in fact I like that as it means you really need to consider your movements. So if it was just a case of being countered during an animation, then I could accept that. But to feel like my button press isn’t even registering, even if it means having an animation delay, that just makes things feel off.
However, you do get used to the system after a short while and learn to live with it. Sometimes a staple of the mid-tier game and in all fairness, you can get some decent battles going which can be fun.
Yet that fun is short lived, because again, the character movement is clunky and cumbersome for the most part, meaning it can be very difficult to focus on the enemy you are currently engaging with. This is magnified somewhat by an awful camera system that at points started to make me feel unwell.
It just seems to move all over the place, like there has been some kind of cinematography element wanted, but not quite being understood. This means that when you move to one side of an enemy to attack, the camera will struggle to keep up, or will try to change to another angle. Again this, combined with the animation issues and combat mechanics, means it all feels very awkward.
The story is something I am unsure on, even at the point of this review. Compare it to the likes of The Last Of Us, where the acting and story is well written, crafted and acted, then it falls way short of expectations. But on the flip side, compare to mid-tier games from the previous generation and it can stand with the best of them.
The main protagonist speaks very little, using a supporting cast to do most of the dialogue and they are a mixed bunch, with some being decent characters and others just not likable at all. But I think overall it has a decent pacing to it and keeps things moving well. It just isn’t a standout story that you will remember in years to come.
Exploration and minor puzzle solving is a key part of Risen 3 and for the most part they have a positive effect on the game as a whole, but again there are times when camera issues can make some areas a bit of a chore to look around.
There are various things you can find that allow you to upgrade your character, clothes, weapons, rings, etc and it borrows from the likes of Diablo III for a quick select option which works rather well.
Another part of the game that did impress was in the visuals. Despite the overall clunky nature of the game, it looks pretty damned beautiful in places, especially when outside. The natural elements such as foliage, water, beaches, temples, etc all look lovely and I was rather surprised by how much time I spent just admiring the scenery.
But in the end I think that sums Risen 3: Titan Lords up. It has some lovely elements, some solid ideas, but lacks cohesion overall. More time needed to be spent on the mechanics or fighting and movement, because it unfortunately ruins a game I really wanted to like.