Release Date: April 27th, 2012
Developer: Piranha Bytes
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: [Reviewed: PC], PS3, Xbox
Rated: M for Mature
Risen 2: Dark Waters continues where its predecessor left off, this time in harbor city of Caldera. The last vestiges of the Inquisition gather in a fortress in attempt to fight off the enemy. Unfortunately, the sea is no longer tamed by man and boats delivering supplies have been lost to the unwavering Titans.
Risen 2: Dark Waters is laden with characters, activities and quest some of which are less than savory, but the game does encapsulate a time and fantasy that is long gone and long lost. If you ever wanted to experience the life of a pirate, Risen 2 has got you covered.
Uncover the secrets of the jungle, the brewing of rum and the curse of a seafaring captain. Does any of this sound familiar? True, the game does play more like Pirates of the Caribbean, but this game does have something the movie didn’t have, but I’ll let you know when I come across that.
Gameplay in this game is very much like other games of its type, specifically the games from the Elder Scrolls series. You walk, or run, throughout the island completing quests and leveling up abilities. You run into some pretty unsavory characters, and probably (at least for me) spend more time trying to figure out how to steal stuff from people than actually playing the game. The Island you start out on is vast and unforgiving, and the people are boring and forgetful but the game is still fun in that there is always the feel of there being more left to explore. Just exploring and killing mobs on the way earns you glory which can be turned in to up skills from weapon damage, pickpocketing and even voodoo. And you’ll want to do plenty of exploring as the graphics on this game are beautiful.
Island games always tend to focus much on the sea and the sun and the jungle comes alive, literally, as you move through it. Leaves appear and disappear as the sun shines through to the jungle floor. Monkeys and wild game rummage through the bushes and towns constructed in the middle of this oasis flourish, albeit with few characters who actually communicate.
This game is beautiful, it’s engaging, it’s fun and it keeps you playing for hours if not for the fights, or the quests, or the pickpocketing, then for the promise of exploring.
That being said, there are a few things that are wrong with this game. Now, I would like to say that this game is set in a period where certain historical facts are unavoidable, but there is a vast difference between acknowledging the icky bits of and commodifying them. Yes, slavery did exist as did overt sexism, but acknowledging they did and incorporating that into the story line in a tasteful manner is not what this game does. Let me explain.
Early on in the game, players have the option of accepting a quest from the governor of Tacarigua. The small town makes its money by farming sugar cane and turning it into alcohol (rum specifically) and to make farming this sugar easier they use slave labor. This, however, isn’t the offensive part. As you walk into the sugar case field, the reality of what you are seeing is just that reality. There is no interaction besides viewing and it is rather a beautiful scene, albeit depressing.
In comparison, once you speak to the governor you find your task is to go into the jungle and behead three slaves who have escaped their slave masters. Upon finding said slaves, you will notice they are donned in war paint, feathers, loin cloths and have somehow acquired spears that they throw at you when you fight. I don’t recall them saying “Uga Buga” but they might as well have.
Yes slavery is a reality but images like these in games are more stereotypical than anything. Yes players do have the option to ignore this quest, though honestly so early in the game it would be a foolish thing. Getting money to get yourself started is difficult at first and every piece of gold counts.
There is also the tagalong Patty who, as your faithful, albeit vocal, companion definitely makes it known that she is female and has no problem kicking your ass. In fact, she says that so much I’m starting to wonder if they even made any other combat lines for her. Her character is one sided and her combat lines are annoying. It seems the developers attempted to make a strong female archetype but instead made a stereotype. She’s certainly useful, though, and I wouldn’t trade her for any of the men in the game.
All in all, despite a few faux pas, Risen 2: Dark Waters Is an incredibly fun game. Nowhere near Skyrim in terms of quantity of interactions and stuff to do, but it’s a nice place to wonder around and earn money. The best part of this game is going around and exploring and there is plenty of that to do. Wandering into a few caves will definitely give you a fright if you aren’t strong enough though so remember to save often! If you like this kind of game definitely give it a look see. There’s so much more to this game and you should all make time to explore it!
Overall Rating: 4/5