Risen 2: Dark Waters
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|Risen 2: Dark Waters|
|Developer(s)||Piranha Bytes (Win)|
Wizarbox (PS3 & X360)
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360|
Risen 2: Dark Waters is a single-player fantasy-themed action role-playing game and the sequel to Risen by Piranha Bytes. It is published by Deep Silver. Risen 2: Dark Waters is a pirate themed game, but it transfers the classic Caribbean pirate themes to a fantasy world where monsters, ancient gods, and voodoo magic exist.
The game was officially announced by Deep Silver on August 18, 2010, during a press conference at the GamesCom exhibition of Cologne. The official site was opened on February 19, 2011. The game was released for Microsoft Windows in Europe and the United States at the end of April 2012 and for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms in the late summer of 2012. The PC version is directly developed by Piranha Bytes. The French firm Wizarbox is in charge of the console versions for both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Risen 2: Dark Waters is the first Risen game to be made for the PlayStation 3.
Risen 2 is an action role-playing game where players take control of the main character in a third-person perspective to explore the in-game world, complete quests and customize their character's abilities. While the physical appearance of the player character cannot be changed, other characteristics including clothing and skill sets can. Throughout progression of the game, players can improve five key attributes, each with their own focus on different styles of gameplay. The "Blades" attribute determines proficiency and use of swords, daggers, throwing weapons and other slashing/thrusting weaponry while "Firearms" revolves on pistols, rifles and other gunpowder based weaponry. "Toughness" determines the level of which damage that can be taken from different attacks while "Cunning" focuses on stealth including sneaking, thievery and persuading other characters. The final attribute is "Voodoo" that revolves around the use of black magic and other rituals both lethal and non-lethal that can be utilized throughout play. Each attribute covers many multiple sub-classes for each known as Talents, which are skills that represent different perks and abilities. Talents are more specific in their benefit depending on the level of them. For examples, under Cunning, "Thievery" determines whether a player can pick certain locks or pickpocket characters while under Toughness, resistance to blades or bullets is determined along with the ability to intimidate other characters. Because of the variety, players can choose to focus on different attributes and talents depending on their approach to gameplay, such as stealth, magic, dirty tricks or conventional combat.
Attributes, along with their respective talents are leveled up by spending a specific amount of "Glory". Glory is gained by the player through completing quests, discovering new locations and defeating enemies. Individual talents however can also be leveled up through the use of certain items, some with permanent or only temporary boosts. This is additional to different interchangeable items of clothing and jewelry, each with their own talent improvements and levels of defense. Certain other skills can also be learned by receiving lessons and advice from skill specific trainer characters found throughout the game world. Each skill/talent however requires a certain level attribute to already be met while also often at times an amount of in-game gold to be given. Like glory, gold is accumulated through progression while also through selling items to vendors who can also sell items at the same time. Trainer skills include useful abilities such as kicking over opponents, training monkeys and parrots to steal and distract foes, along with alchemy, gunsmithing and forging that allows the players to create talents boosting potions and new weapons made from materials found or bought throughout the game. Other abilities include the use of a voodoo doll to take direct control of other characters or rituals to weaken opponents.
In combat, the player character has two weapon slots. In the right hand the player wields their bladed weapons such as a cutlass or a two-handed rifle while in the left hand is the secondary item such as a pistol or non-damaging items like throwing sand to blind opponents or trained wildlife. Weapons can be switched quickly or items like health provisions can be used through a separate tab of hot keys on the PC version. Throwing weapons like spears however requiring aiming with both hands.
The game is set in a fictional, fantasy-orientated region of its in-game world that is based on the Caribbean tropics. The world is divided up into multiple locations across a fictional world map made up of islands (or coastal areas) home to jungles, caves, tribal villages and outposts. Each location can only be accessed for the first time through progression of the main story quest yet can be revisited at a later time, now being optional for the player. Travel between islands is done with the player's pirate ship. When visiting each location, the region is near open for the player to explore. While certain routes and paths may be divided by mountainous or watery passes or story scripted events, the location allows the player to take multiple routes and discover new, even hidden sites or locales. The player must travel on foot through most of the locations but can obtain a map of it that shows a complete overview of the island, including marked points related to current quests and if discovered points of interest. Points of interest typically include villages, outposts, docks and other safe non-hostile areas. Once these have been discovered and marked on the map, the player can then fast travel between them without having to manually go on foot. The game has a day and night cycle which non-player characters and in some cases certain quests operate by so for example stores will be closed and some characters may be sleeping during the evening. Players themselves can choose to sleep if they find an empty bed to skip to different times of the day. When around most non-hostile characters, the player must not draw their weapons (unless required) unless they flee or act aggressively themselves. Players can also travel with an AI controlled companion that will aid in combat and questing, some of which have their own unique abilities that can benefit the player character.
The story begins in the Fortress of Crystal at the port of Caldera, last fortress of the Inquisition (a military/religious group last seen in Risen) and of the Old Empire. The mountains surrounding Caldera are aflame, as ancient gods called Titans (also last seen in Risen) assail the land to the north. Two Titan Lords, Ursegor and Ismael, have fallen to fighting each other. This has relieved the pressure on Caldera, although parts of the city are on fire and have been abandoned. But one of the two Titan Lords must soon fall, and the winner will then try to find a way to crush Caldera. Only the power of the mysterious crystal cave, located under the Fortress, gives the small depleted garrison some hope that they might keep the victorious Titan Lord at bay. A more immediately pressing problem is a sea monster called the Kraken, which attack ships at sea and is under the command of the Titan goddess Mara. The Kraken attacks thus prevent Inquisition equipment, soldiers and supplies from reaching the last remaining haven of Caldera. The monster also prevents the Inquisition from fleeing from the Titans and the Old World, over the ocean to the New World. To add to the garrison's troubles, what little supplies Caldera has left are threatened by pirates who try to rob the storehouses.
One stormy night, Commandante Carlos (head of the Harbour Town garrison in the first Risen) spies a pirate ship on a course into Caldera harbor. Before it can reach safety, it is sunk by the Kraken. Carlos asks the hero to help any survivors. Among the survivors who are found washed up on the beach, there is a key character from Risen, the pirate Patty. Patty is always in search of her father, the famous pirate Gregorius Emanuel Steelbeard, and his treasure. Rumor says Steelbeard has found a way to sail the seas safely, using what may be a possible weapon that could kill the Kraken. Commandante Carlos decides that the Hero should infiltrate Steelbeard's pirates and try to learn any secrets they have. Patty and the Hero decide to team up, for the journey to the pirate's island of Tacarigua. The Hero is officially stripped of his position in the Inquisition to ensure he will be accepted by the pirates, and sent on his mission.
The hero and Patty find Steelbeard on the far side of the island, and discover that he has discovered the location of the Titan Harpoon, which could potentially kill even the Titan Lords themselves. The trio set sail and head to the Sword Coast to confront the Harpoon's current owner, Captain Crow. However, Crow is safely protected from attacks by his crew and several loyal natives, leading the hero to side with either the Inquisition or the native Moluccas for assistance. When confronted, Crow summons an Earth Titan to kill the hero, only for him to steal the Harpoon and impale Crow with it.
The Harpoon acquired, Steelbeard reveals that there are three other Titan artifacts that must be used in conjunction with the Harpoon in order to kill the Titan Lord Mara, the Kraken's master. Mara sends the Kraken to the Sword Coast and sinks Steelbeard's ship, as well as killing Steelbeard himself. The hero is then tasked with obtaining the three artifacts from their respective owners to kill Mara.
To leave the island, the hero and Patty need to acquire a ship, and the only one available is the Inquisition ship under guard by Commandante Sebastiano. However, Sebastiano is under orders to confiscate the Titan Harpoon and will not aid the hero. Together with Patty and an ally from the player's chosen faction, they hatch a plan to steal away with the ship and travel to seek the weapons.
In late May 2007, JoWooD Productions Software AG and Pluto 13 GmbH (owner of the trademark "Piranha Bytes") announced the end of their cooperation. Following contractual agreements binding the two companies, JoWood temporarily held the right to publish games in the Gothic series as well as the copyright for the "Gothic" trademark. As a consequence to this, Piranha Bytes announced on June 17, 2007 that they were working on drafting a new RPG. The next day, Deep Silver announced that they would be the publisher, and on August 6, 2008 the official name of the game was revealed to be Risen.
While Piranha Bytes developed the PC version of the game, the French company Wizarbox was responsible for bringing it to the Xbox 360 (the first game had no PlayStation 3 version). Following numerous criticisms of the poor quality of the game's console port, the publisher decided that the sequel would be jointly developed on the three platforms from the project's inception, with experts from Piranha Bytes preparing elements for Wizarbox and with test controls every 30 or 60 days. The official name of the sequel, Risen 2: Dark Waters, was announced on February 19, 2011.
In late July 2011, Deep Silver announced that they had selected Steamworks as the form of digital rights management for the PC version of the game. This will allow users to add their retail keys to a Steam account and play the game via the service. This will also include unlimited installs on any PC, and no requirement to have the DVD in the drive to play.
In 2012, the ESRB announced that the original cover art of Risen 2: Dark Waters was not suitable for release in North America, and Deep Silver was told to change it. Instead of a spray of red blood in the backdrop, behind the skull, it has since been changed to the color blue. The cover art remaining unchanged in other territories.
Risen 2: Dark Waters received average reviews. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 67.78% and 69/100, the Xbox 360 version 58.27% and 60/100 and the PlayStation 3 version 53.83% and 47/100.
GameSpot praised the pirate theme, noting atmosphere and non-cliche humor, jokingly concluding that Risen 2 "[offers] up a joyous and occasionally profane odyssey through humid jungles, dank caves, and imposing temples. It also lets you make monkeys fight each other, and that's a mechanic any RPG lover can get behind." However, they were less than impressed by the frustrating combat scenarios, annoying bugs that interfere with the player's journey, and with the game not being as free form as the original.
Destructoid applauded the depth, but criticized the combat and difficulty, stating that it "...could have been a thoroughly supreme game, one that could have gone toe to toe with the heavyweights of action role-playing. Due to a number of highly questionable design decisions, however, a lot of that potential has withered away."
IGN gave the PC version a 6.5/10, they called it "a role-playing experience that uses convention as a crutch and marginalizes or strips away a lot of elements that made the studio's past games stand out."
Risen 3: Titan Lords was officially revealed on the cover of the German PC Games magazine, and was released in 2014.
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