Risen 2 Preview: Packed To The Gunnels With PiracyBy Stephen Johnson - Posted Feb 13, 2012
Avast, ye scurvy bilge-rat. You arrrrr going to listen to me talking about pirate-themed RPG Risen 2: Dark Waters, or I’ll keel-haul you good and leave your corpse for the mermaids to plunder! Is that enough pirate-talk for this preview? I think so, so I’ll dispense with it now. Although, come to think of it, smattering a game preview with the language of salty-sea dogs is a lot like what the makers of Risen 2 have done with the RPG genre. Risen 2 is packed to the gunnels with all things pirate-y. You want tri-cornered hats with feathers in them? You got ‘em. How about exotic beach-side locations? They’re here in spades. Shady sailors with cutlasses and hoops in their ears? They’re in Risen 2. Even the magic system in Risen 2 is based on Caribbean voodoo. In summary: Pirates, pirates, pirates!
This all raises a question we can’t really answer at this time: Does the inclusion of everything traditionally associated with pirates mean players will feel like pirates when they play the finished game? Will the RPG give pirate-fans the kind of swashbuckling, black-hearted adventure we enjoyed while reading Treasure Island, or is Risen 2 just a standard RPG with a coat of buccaneer paint slapped on? We won’t really know until the release on April 24, but judging from the demo we saw last week at G4, Risen 2 looks promising. Deep Silver, the creators of the game, seem to know their pirates and pirate lore.
You play Risen 2 as the unnamed protagonist from Risen, who has left his traditional fantasy milieu as a broken man, with a burning desire to kill the sea monsters threatening the world and sail the seven seas in search of adventure and booty.
Although you don’t create your character in terms of his name or his class, Risen 2 seems to progresses largely through traditional role-playing game means. It’s deep RPG stuff, with more of a Witcher 2 feel than a Fable 3 vibe. The game features lots of character interaction, and different ways to accomplish goals, but less in the way of hand-holding than many “easy-button” RPGs.
For example, in the demo level Deep Silver showed off for us, we walked though a seaside town filled with rickets-laden sailors and wooden buildings, on a quest for a sacrificial knife. This is done through helping a captain break a trade embargo in order to supply a ship to sail off to get the knife. In order to get drinking water for the ship, you have to take care of a boss named “Butch,” who is so ineffective; he can’t convince his workers to load barrels for him.
You can either convince Butch to accompany you deep into a cave, where you summarily murder him in cold blood (pirates were not saints, after all), then order the men to get to work, or you can be a bit more devious and use voodoo to take care of old Butch. Should you choose the ancient magical art/religion of voodoo to help you, you fashion a voodoo doll of Butch, then take control of his character. You then walk over to the water carriers and browbeat them into moving some damn barrels, post-haste. Problem solved.
Voodoo power can also be applied in combat situations. You can use a voodoo doll to make an enemy hostile, and have him attack his own friends – hopefully the scurvy scallywags will murder each other and you can walk in and plunder their corpses to your black-heart’s content.
Speaking of taking control of other characters in the game: One of the interesting mechanics at play in Risen 2 is the use of helper monkeys. Not the kind of helper monkeys handicapped people need, (although you do wear an eyepatch), but one that will help you steal and murder. If you choose the monkey ability in game, you take control of your pocket primate and use him/her to get into tiny places in which your fat pirate ass would not be able to fit. If you were in jail, say, you could send your monkey outside of the cell to grab the jailer’s key. Monkeys can also be used as dungeon recon – send your subhuman pal into a dungeon and he can check out where the bad guys are and let you come up with a plan.
Because pirates are seemingly animal lovers, you can also utilize a parrot to distract enemies during combat. The little birdie is only one of many combat options, including throwing sand or salt in enemies’ faces during the fray and even pulling out your gun and cappin’ a fool in the middle of a cutlass fight. The combat seems varied and interesting, with a variety of attacks and counters, somewhat reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed.
Along with the quests and combat, Risen features some interesting mini-games, too. In the demo level, we checked out a three-game contest from a character which involved a sword fight, a drinking contest and some target practice, in that order – a nice break from the combat and conversation.
I can't wait until Risen 2 sets sails on the high seas of the PC, PS3 and 360 on April 24.