Developer: Piranha Bites
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Genre(s): Action RPG
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam, Xbox, PlayStation)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 24.01.2023
A code was provided for review purposes
THQ Nordic has once again published a beloved game that was hidden within the vaults of time. Risen received mostly positive reviews back in 2010 and had a decent following. The story sees a nameless protagonist who has washed ashore on the island of Faranga after his vessel is decimated by a sea Titan. This inhabited island is believed to have the secret to defeating the Titans, and the Inquisitors have taken over most of its settlements. What’s worse, though, is the unexpected unearthing of temples all over the island, which are raided by the Warriors of the Order, led by the Inquisitor, Mendoza.
Pick a Side
Do Not Feed the Animals
The weakest aspect of Risen, by far, is the combat. Although your character will automatically target the enemy closest to him. However, landing and evading hits is a frustrating task. Yet, with combat being the nature of the game, you’ll encounter all manner of foes during your quest. Add to that the awkward way in which the player moves and flinches during combat, and the ruthless barrage of attacks from all enemies when surrounded, combat simply becomes a pain. You’ll probably spend more time downing healing potions than dealing damage. Eventually, your character will gain new combat skills and better equipment to counter this, but this occurs many hours into the game.
Needless to say, having huge birds taking turns to violently peck me to death as I flinch after every hit was really putting me off the game. Even worse when it happened during the first 10 minutes of my adventure. If you have the patience to power through the tough early gameplay, you’ll find that under the archaic battle mechanics is a decent RPG. There are plenty of spells and weapons in the game. However, in order to get the most out of them, you’ll need to have the right Learning Points allocated. These can be found by talking to NPCs and completing quests in hopes to level up.
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Though graphically not the most spectacular-looking game on the Switch, the Sicily-inspired island of Faranga is a beautiful and captivating place full of fauna and flora. Harbour Town was my favourite location, as it reminded me of the scenic seaside towns found around the Mediterranean. The character models have not aged as well, but all things considered, it’s still an aesthetically pleasing game. My only issue concerning the visuals was the small font size and how dark the game is. This was especially prevalent when playing in handheld mode. It seldom happens that I turn off the auto brightness on my OLED model, and the lack of settings to tweak these two issues feel like a missed opportunity. The soundtrack and voice talent is of a high standard, and I recommend playing with headphones if possible.
I have a lot of respect towards THQ Nordic for publishing games from studios that no longer exist or whose franchises have faded with time. They have done a decent job with most of their releases, but this one needed a bit more time in the oven. Granted that it’s a straight port from the 2010 console version, but had they invested some time and resources to update the combat and a few quality-of-life improvements here and there, this could have been an easy recommendation at the asking price as well. I put in many hours and was hooked on the engrossing gameplay, and has some unique mechanics and game flow that would put modern RPGs to shame, such as the great side quests or the rewarding feeling after becoming a Warrior of the Order, having carried out many trials and put up with some obnoxious monks.
The game is out physically and may be worth picking up during a sale. If you love story-driven action RPGs and can push through a grueling first few hours, then this is one of the better games of its generation to play on your Switch. I hope that if they intend on releasing the second and third titles, and/or they make a proper and decent remaster.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can buy your copy of Risen from the Nintendo eShop today.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.