Risen 2: Dark Waters review
Risen 2, despite its attempt to bring the pirate world to gamers, is a game that has a lot of potential on paper. However, its boring and unfulfilling combat combined with a poor leveling system leaves you wondering whether the game is even worth it. Fortunately, the entire experience isn't hampered thanks to its wondrous atmosphere, which helps to drive you through the dozens of hours the game offers.
Risen 2 puts you in the shoes of an unnamed protagonist suddenly thrown into a wet predicament. A horrible sea creature plagues the ocean and your commander in the Inquisition — an organization you're part of — asks you to find a way to kill it. It's not a derivative plot, and the premise is quite interesting, lending for a great pirate adventure. Unfortunately, the plot informs you of your entire adventure quite quickly, causing the minor plot twists to fall victim to a fairly flat narrative.
Even so, Risen 2 is worth it for the story due to the interactions between you and the various characters you meet. The locals for each of the areas you visit are amazing. For instance, early on you meet indigenous people that have accents and act in a way that are unfamiliar to civilized people. It's very immersive, and the realistic environments are crafted to really portray that Pirates of the Caribbean feeling.
The combat in the game is extremely bland, bordering on boredom and frustration. Part of this has to do with enemies that are uninteresting to fight and leads to mindless button mashing that requires no skill whatsoever. Fights are broken down into either monster or humanoid encounters. While the humans are enjoyable to fight because you can block and riposte for rhythmic fighting, the monsters are an absolute hassle. It becomes a mindless flurry of attacks until the enemy's health bar is depleted. There's no strategy involved, and if you don't have enough items to replenish your health in the middle of the fight, then expect game over.
To supplement melee combat, you have the ability to use voodoo magic. While it's not essential, it helps to round out a different aspect of your character. Unfortunately, there's no way to beat the game with just using voodoo magic, and as a result, it's more of a tool, rather than a dedicated type of play. As a result, this makes for an uninteresting dynamic between swords and magic.
The game's form of experience is called glory, which you earn by finishing quests and killing random creatures. You can use glory to increase your swordsmanship, toughness, and other attributes. There aren't many ways to build your character, but spending glory wisely and making use of certain attributes can help to alleviate various encounters in the game. Sadly, while you can increase your numerical stats using glory, you must earn skills by spending gold on trainers. Whether it be blocking, riposting, or using new voodoo magic, all the skills you need are from them.