Sailing the high seas and plundering boats laden with gold. Singing shanties to the clouds while waves wash across the deck. The life of a pirate is one we all fantasize about from time to time. That idea of pure freedom with the added feeling of a little rebellious streak we all nurture deep within our souls from puberty. Then surely, the world of Risen 3 Titan Lords would be the perfect place to indulge this dream.
Not quite, thank heavens..
The Risen franchise has, somewhat undeservedly, earned itself a sticker of “that pirate RPG” thanks mostly to the second in the series focusing so heavily on rum-swigging rapscallions. Risen 3 may open the door to its world with a selection of scenes and dialogue which could be ripped quite easily from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, even down to monstrous dread-pirates, but quite quickly walks the plank to make way for a more standard fantasy world.
Being set across a series of islands though, Piranha Byte’s action RPG keeps the flavour of piracy rolling over your tastebuds in a soft lapping rather than a tidal wave. Whenever pirates come up, its like the memory of a small strawberry sweet rather than an oddly bitter remnant of yesterday’s breakfast working its way out and onto your tongue.
As far as a story goes (Risen 3 has one, I think), there are people talking and events happen but honestly, the tale has about the same narrative strength as anything written by an opium-crazed muskrat. Lots of things happen, every person seems to have a tale of woe, and each family seems to have lost half its number to the looming shadows. You feel as though the writers behind this world really want you to care but rather than your heart strings being pulled, you find yourself skipping dialogue until the NPC finally offers whatever quest they have for you.
That’s right, every single freaking character has something for you to do. No NPCs exist just for the sake of being there. Giving every NPC a quest or purpose for being there doesn’t bring a living and immersive world, rather it actually causes the world to feel smaller. No one is just there to be there having a drink. They all have a story to tell and a smidgen of gameplay to impart onto you. No character is an organic resident of the world, breaking down any sense of realism and tearing apart the suspension of disbelief we all build around RPGs and their worlds.
NPCs are still a major issue whenever they open their mouths. One cannot deny, it is funny hearing a character shout “I’ll turn you into a hat” at a spider twice his size once or twice. The fifteenth time though, you become tempted to wear your companions tongue as a talisman. At times, it would be a marked improvement.