The Risen Report #2: Sous-Chef

By Alec Meer on October 8th, 2009 at 5:39 pm.

In lieu of a review, I’m keeping a diary of my (mis)adventures in and thoughts on divisive new RPG Risen. The first part’s here.

The situation: I’m being followed by a physically impossible woman who’s moaning about being hungry, and I have a pocket full of vulture and rat meat. There’s probably a way to connect these two things. First, however, fighting.

Wandering up the hilly jungle path, I spot a cave entrance on my left. Impossi-woman expresses fear when I head in, and urges me to take another route. Banking on this being a game in which I can make my own decisions, I ignore her and sneak further in. It’s dark and unsettling, but – hooray! – there is treasure here, many mana-restoring mushrooms (though I have no way to use up mana as yet) and, a little further in, some gnomes.

These are not your common hat’n’beard gnomes, but instead pig-faced, goblinoid things that want my blood. It very quickly becomes a serious fight, much harder than my scuffles with beasts, and one death and reload later, I get a sense of why some folk have moaned Risen is too unforgiving. On my second attempt at the fight, my sympathy turns to a glimmer of contempt.

Granted, the game hasn’t told me how to dodge or block yet, but I’ve worked it out myself. If the gnomes hit me, most of my health bar disappears. So I don’t let them hit me. What’s the big problem here? I’m feeling cocky, and so far I’m getting away with it. I’m also understanding why Gothic/Risen’s fanbase can be a bit sneery towards other RPGs – it is satisfying to conquer something that’s a little unforgiving. Where I disagree with them is that I’m entirely happy for harder RPGs to co-exist with ones that show you every rope or have a magic compass that tells you exactly where to go: diversity is a good thing.

The fight takes a little while, as these ugly midgets turn out to be pretty hardy, but so long as I dodge as well as hammer attack, it’s thoroughly in my favour. I’m rewarded with access to chests containing gold, health potions, some food, a sword and a sickle. This latter ensures the next gnome-packed room is a whole lot easier, though the greater number of minimen in there makes dodging a little more complicated.

I don’t know what Risen’s combat is going to ultimately become, but what I’m enjoying so far (and is still the case later, when I’m fighting the hungry wolves that some demo players have complained about) is that it’s something I have to pay attention to. It doesn’t require awkward key combinations or a complex knowledge of statistics – it just requires not letting my guard down, and feeling as tense as focused as I would in a real fight. I mean, I guess. I don’t fight a lot of people. Only toddlers, really, and they don’t hit back very hard.

So Impossi-woman’s moaning was for naught. I emerge from the other end of the cave near to where the game began, and now I have pockets full of useful things. Back to my original goal – a way to link my frightening-shaped companion’s hunger to raw meat I’m lugging around.

That way turns out to be a frying pan lurking in a chest within an abandoned house. Once I have that, I can click on the weirdly huge firepit outside the house and fry my pocket-meat into something edible. She’s happy. I’m happy, because it heals the hitpoints I lost beating up giant birds and porcine gnomes. I’d previously tried to heal them by drinking from a barrel full of rainwater, like a dog, but gave up because each time I did, it involved a five-second animation but only refilled my health bar by a fraction. Click, click and click again. Booooring.

Risen does a lot of things like this – taking away your control and making you wait for a preset animation to play out for a few seconds. On their own, I wouldn’t notice, but I’m reaching the point where I don’t want to open a chest or drink from a barrel because I know I’ll have control snatched away just so the game can show me something boring for a just a little too long. I’m certainly not going to take 12 seperate drinks from the barrel just to refill my health bar – why can’t the game either spot that, quite obviously, I want to restore my HP and thus give me the lot with one click, or allow me to hold down the button until I’m done drinking? It’s unncessarily obstinate and time-consuming.

I’m enjoying the cooking, however. I’ve always liked cooking in RPGs. When I kill a beast, as i do often, all its carcass contains is meat. No gems, no swords, no gore-soaked blueprints for luxury armour. I also can’t just eat its raw, bloody, probably poisonous meat – it has to be cooked first. This makes sense, it creates a visceral link between me and this wild world, and it adds to the survival fantasy that Risen seems keen to create. Sure, there’s mysteriously nothing in the frying pan when I hold it over the fire, but it’s the thought that counts.

What is sligtly irksome is that this is the only cooking fire I’ll see for the next couple of hours, which means I spend a lot of time with a lot of raw meat in my pocket. I’m hoping there’ll be a system whereby I can create fires myself later, as there is no logical reason why I shouldn’t be able to. Most of all, I want to do guerrilla cooking – running into the middle of an enemy camp and trying to fry up a chicken drumstick before they get me.

Meanwhile, impossi-woman announces she’s tired and needs a sit down. It’s another vague hint that women aren’t considered all that highly by this world. So, I’m asked to leave her where she is and go find help. Seems unwise, given the jungle is brimming with angry wildlife, but I don’t seem to have any other choice. A short way up the hill, I find the grave moths I mentioned yesterday, and promptly demolish them with my sickle. A little further on, I find a man with a ginger beard – it’s a face I will see several times, on several different characters. While initially hostile, once I explain my shipwrecked status, he’s friendly. He even says he’ll go collect Impossi-woman and take her to safety, which pops up a ‘Quest Completed’ message and gives me a few experience points.

Now, I’m rendered deeply uncomfortable by this – I already know that Gothic and Risen’s worlds are full of people you can’t trust, and that there’s rarely a right or wrong choice. To leave my only friend’s safety in the hands of a scowling guy with a sword who I’ve only just met seems incredibly foolish, especially when she’s dressed like an erotic cosplayer. Perhaps it’s a decision that’ll come back to haunt me. I’ll be impressed if it is, but also annoyed, given I don’t seem to have had much choice in the matter. That said, I could have just tried to kill this guy. God knows how that would have altered my future in this world, or what fate it would have given to impossi-woman.

One choice I am given is where to go next. Beardyface really, really wants me to come back to the bandit camp he works for, but also talks of a harbour town nearby. If I go there, there’s a good chance I’ll be recruited by the – he says – sinister Inquisition. These are bad men, and I should avoid them. But, I reason, a harbour sounds like a place of trade and information, while a bandit camp sounds like a place of, well, bandits. So I ignore this chap’s insistence, and already it feels like I’m not having to do what the game tells me to do. That’s what I want from Risen, frankly.

He leads me close to some folk who, he says, can tell me how to get to the harbour, then heads back. Presumably to either help or abduct my pornographic companion. Still plagued by doubt, I head down to a quiet farm. In short order, a robed bloke with a Northern English accent has me harvesting grain for him. I’m not totally clear why he can’t do it himself, but right now making people like me seems like the right course of action. Next, I chat to his dad, who, I’m glad to see, hints that his son is a bit of a simpleton – which explains this grain-collecting business.

He also sheds some more light on the nature of the Inquisition. Sounds as though they’re not treating the island’s populace well, but their ultimate aim seems to be altruistic – fending off a volcano-related sinister force that’s up to no good. Like beardyface, he’s not a fan of the Inquisition, but does believe they’re working for the greater good. Who should I trust? Well, no-one for now. However, a major choice is becoming clear – join the Inquisition, join the bandits or, most appealingly to me, sneak past the Inquisition to become a mage. They’re intercepting and recruiting/batting away anyone trying to reach the mage’s monastery, but as far as I can tell, it’s the only faction that hasn’t yet demonstrated a hostile intent towards others. Also, I’d really like to learn some magic.

So, becoming a mage becomes my number one priority – and, frankly, it’s a relief to have a definite goal, but doubly pleasing because it’s one I’ve decided on myself. To achieve it, and to bypass the patrolling Inquisition, I need the help of this sombre farming family. I’ve already helped with the harvest, so next it’s the aforementioned wolf-killing time. Stay away from combat until you’ve been trained as a fighter, people in yesterday’s comments keep saying. Listen: I couldn’t fight my way out of a wet paper bag in real life. This, though – this is my chance to be a man.

I’m doing my own thing, to a point. I’m enjoying myself. Could really do with another fire to cook all this raw meat, mind.

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140 Comments »

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  1. A-Scale says:

    Few times have I been more bored by a game. For a RPG it feels so very arcadey. At least the shipwreck bit at the start was cool.

  2. ilves says:

    hm, so far from the game mechanics of fighting, cooking, etc, this game IS gothic with a new name. Everything sounds identical to how its done in the previous games… I like 1 and 2, so I guess I’m not complaining, will probably pick this up at some point

    • Cvnk says:

      Make no mistake. It is Gothic. In far more ways than the few you’ve already spotted. Mind you I think that’s a good thing in general.

  3. sfury says:

    I don’t know about the full game or the preview code, but in the demo one of the first things they show you is how to attack and block.

  4. Radiant says:

    As a general rule people who play RPGs are RUBBISH at skill based games.*
    So take the calls to stay away from Risen’s [skillish based] combat until you’ve learnt to fight with a pinch of salt.

    Do your own thing Alec Meer.
    Do you.

    *Unless of course that skill is pretending to be somewhere else.

  5. sana says:

    People actually complained about Risen’s combat being too hard in those first few minutes of play you described in the article? Wow…

  6. Meatloaf says:

    Heh. Too hard. One of the first quests I remember from the unfortunately made Gothic 3 was to go kill a few boars. I thought “Oh, ok, boars. They’re standard RPG enemies. Fine, I’ll do this guy’s ‘go X kill Y’ quest.”

    Turns out, the boars were realistic boars, not RPG boars. These boars could kill me in three hits, and it took about twenty for me to down one. There were four of them. Risen’s combat is not hard.

    • ilves says:

      The trick with all Gothic games was to NOT engage all the enemies at once, but try to lure them out one by one by getting close enough to one, but not the others, for it start coming after you… then you’d just run a few meters away, beat it up, and repeat. Otherwise you’d get steamrolled

    • Taillefer says:

      Or find a vantage point unreachable by enemies and use a bow. I exploited this way too much. :(
      I hope some steps have been taken to make it less effective in Risen.

  7. AndrewC says:

    In Gothic 3 they made Bloodflies, the weaniest, earliest of easy enemies, have poisonous stings, so one hit and you would die in about 5 seconds, unless you could administer an antidote in time and, with the interface what it is, you know…

    Risen’s combat is eeeeeeassyyyyyyy.

  8. timtom says:

    Your complaint about the drinking animation being too long is unfounded. I mean think about it. It’s supposed to take you this long. It shouldn’t be a thing you can abuse. Eating, sleeping, drinking health potions should be your main means of replenishing your health.

    • Kamos says:

      Eating to replenish hitpoints? Try eating fried herrings when you have 300+ hitpoints.

      “3 hours later…”

    • ilves says:

      The problem wasn’t the animation per se… it was the fact you had to open the interface, click the right tab, hunt down the antidote potion among the 50 you had by its slightly different icon, then click it, wait for the character to drink it, THEN wait for the character to do a magic like animation for the anti-dote to actually work. That took WAY too long and you could die just in the time you spent in the animations of drinking and casting.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      for items in your inventory you want to use often.. just drag/assign them to a number button

  9. Dubbill says:

    The water barrel taking many sips to refill your health-bar is presumably to stop you kiting monsters to it and having free, full heals on tap (spigot?).

    • MWoody says:

      If you’d played the game, you’d know this isn’t at all possible. In the time it takes for you to finish the drinking animation, you’d be dead three times over.

      I finished the entire game as a mage and enjoyed the hell out of it, but the water barrels pissed me off to no end. It’s just flat-out bad design with no technical or gameplay excuse.

      Luckily, health potions become plentiful as the game progresses, so while it still bothered the armchair designer in me, it didn’t chafe as badly when I decided to drink one rather than sit around and tap the mouse button next to a barrel for five minutes.

  10. Tei says:

    You start as a level 1 very weak character.

    All other RPG’s suffer from “power inflaction”. You start at level 1 with powers that make sense only for a level 15 battlewizard. It could be that most RPG’s are tryiing to one up older RPG’s. Or that are tryiing to look “amazing” at level 1, so are forced to give amazing powers to the power at the start.

    Risen (and maybe the other Gothic games?) are more like Mount & Blade, are tryiing to give you are more terrenal experience, where you will be still using bows with not magic at all at level 14.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Fede says:

    Well, in the old Gothics cooking wasn’t exactly the same: you could actually see the meat inside the frying pan :P
    And you could also eat raw meat, but it replenished less health.

  12. Elusive Pastry says:

    Jeez, doing some farming before you decide to go into town or the outlaw camp? Sounds exactly like Gothic 2. I’m really hoping this turns out to be worth the money.

  13. Lobotomist says:

    Those gnomes are meant to be avoided. In Risen there is no level scaling of enemies. So at beginning some (most) enemies are hard. Some are meant to be avoided alltogether. Later in game when you become more powerful you can come back and deliver some ass kicking

    • WilPal says:

      Why avoid them and come back later when you can just kick thier asses at the beginning?

  14. sana says:

    For what I’ve played of the demo, it feels pleasantly like an upgraded Gothic 2. Since Gothic 2 doesn’t seem to run on my x64 Vista install, this is a godsend..

    • dancingcrab says:

      Fo’real? Ah shucks… there must be some method to play it on Vista 64… other than GOG, that is.

    • sana says:

      There’s a quantity of patches, however it seems I was too dumb to apply them.

  15. BobB says:

    @Alec

  16. AndrewC says:

    I’ve actually found the incidental animations to be sources of joy in this game. When he cooks on a stove, for example, he rather daintily sprinkles some seasoning into the pan. It’s so gloriously specific and incongruous, and he does it every single time. My favourite is having a bath, but you can damn well experience that for yourself.

    • neems says:

      Yes, I won’t spoil it for anybody else, but the bathing animation is truly special.

      Great game, but it does make me laugh my arse off on occasion.

  17. BobB says:

    @Alec

    As someone who was complaining about the difficulty of the wolves yesterday I’d like to point out that I killed those gnomes without having to reload, so there. :P

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      you just have to learn to dodge at the right time for the wolves. so they’re actually super easy. even the black harder ones.

  18. SirKicksalot says:

    I fried a giant lizard-on-a-stick for about two minutes just because.
    My favourite animation is that of the dancers. It looks so… I don’t know, absent-minded? It’s cute, really.

  19. MacBeth says:

    Most of all, I want to do guerrilla cooking – running into the middle of an enemy camp and trying to fry up a chicken drumstick before they get me.

    Made me chuckle.

  20. Dante says:

    Bandits that aren’t necessarily evil? Interesting, more RPGs should remember that being Robin Hood is cool.

    • Schmitzkater says:

      Of the factions in the Gothic or Risen universes, there really is no ‘evil’ one, in terms of being evil just for the fun of it. Or rather there is no ‘good’ one, depending on your own view of them.
      Every faction has its own goals and means to achieve them, and a following truly believing what they stand for.

      Which is mostly what I find so awesome about PiranhaBytes-created worlds.

  21. Ben L. says:

    Where I disagree with them is that I’m entirely happy for harder RPGs to co-exist with ones that show you every rope or have a magic compass that tells you exactly where to go: diversity is a good thing.

    That would be great, except for the fact that the vast majority of CRPGs are now of the magic golden compass variety, and the more unforgiving ones only come along once in a blue moon.

    • Vinraith says:

      Other than Oblivion, where it was modded out within hours of release, and action RPG’s, where it’s actually a welcome feature, what are you thinking of here?

    • Kamos says:

      Only every ten years will the planets align and a game that I actually like be created.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      I think the this vs that factions of rpg fans thing is way overblown in these texts. risen isn’t that crazy of a survivalist experience and people who enjoy or love gothic games and risen aren’t insane people that only come in from the wilderness to experience their normal life as rendered in these videogames. a bit forced. a bit.

  22. Kwanchu says:

    I also found if you lured the beasties back to a camp with some friendly NPC”s they would do the dirty work for you and you would still rack up the xp

  23. Tei says:

    My first path in the game has been to become a good thief. Focusing on pickpoiting. Almost a 1/3 of the game can be completed just stealing the key or item directly from the npc, so you don’t have to fix his problems, pay him, kill him, etc.. I have done this several times, and the game still feel huge to me (but is not). Probably I have spoiled myself tons of quest, but… HE!.. we thief people are smarter than you guys. I feel somewhat like a mage (no a wizard, a mage of these that make tricks) since I have to talk about some random stuff, to do my “trick”.
    Later in the game there are npc’s that will tell you that the item is not on his pocket. Is like npc’s soon learn your habits (-:

  24. Railick says:

    Sounds very interesting so far. I will have to try this demo! Got sick last night so I didn’t have a chance to get at it. Can’t wait for me of this journal. I didn’t have any probem killing those boars in Gothic 3 (though I was surprised they were giant death dealing boars like the other poster) The had the most problem with orcs who chain attacked you in such a way you couldn’t fight back until you were dead, but that was only fair since you could do the same thing to them I supose :P

  25. Clearly a Sexist says:

    Maybe I’m just used to it because I’m married to a curvy woman (and have a daughter that takes after her), but impossi-woman doesn’t seem all that inflated in the pictures. Sort of fantasy stereotypical, but the level of scorn about her build seems overly hyped.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      yeah, that’s another weird tangent in these. the women aren’t that crazy. they’re just kind of weirdly modeled overall, but so are all the people really.

  26. Starym says:

    Just to adress the “hitting 20 times to kill a mob” issues. The combat is pretty skill based (as in player skill) and does get really annoying at times, but the trick is that the third consecutive hit (he does different attacks if you chain them) hit around 10 times harder than the others and usually takes half or more of the health from most mobs (depending on the weapon obv).

  27. Hi!! says:

    The mages are actually under the control of the inquisitors. So while they’re not exactly the same, you can’t sneak past the inquisitors to join the mages. You have to join the order.

    I agree with Dubbill about the water, BTW. It would have been too easy if drinking from a water barrel filled your health. I don’t think those are meant as health-fillers. They’re more for emergency use, I think.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Spoilers, much? :(

    • Railick says:

      Dude you just tainted this entire thing, now he isn’t going to try and join the mages guild (and who are you to say it can’t be done, the game hasn’t been out long enough to know for sure what can or can not be done, you should have at least let him try)

      IF any other RPSers read this before Alec please delete this comment to preserve the purity of these articles! :) For great justice and all that.

    • MWoody says:

      Of course the game has been out long enough for us to know; I finished it days ago. And you CAN be a mage, but in order to do so, you need to side with the Order in harbor town.

      A spoiler perhaps, but it’s poorly explained in-game, so it’s worth a mention. I spent hours running around in town trying to figure out how to side with a third faction, not realizing that the two had the same goals. The complex relationship between the Order and the Mages is only really apparent in retrospect.

  28. Alexander Norris says:

    You’re making this sound nice, Mr Meer.

    I tried Gothic 2 and Gothic 3, and didn’t much like either of them as I found neither the locations nor plot attractive and there weren’t really any characters to speak of (though granted, I only played either of them for four or five hours). I’m also a horrible wimp and hate not knowing what to do next; if I want to go free-roaming, I want to go free-roaming on my own terms (by ignoring otherwise more pressing matters in favour of going for a stroll in the woods).

    This, however, sounds alluring. It’s probably just the way it’s written, and I’ll probably be similarly disappointed with this as I was with the Gothic series (someone care to disabuse that notion?), but my interest is at least piqued.

    I really like these longer pieces, too. Same sort of appeal as the Bloodbowl articles, except without the anti-appeal of being about sports (even if it’s fantasy fantasy Incorrectly-named football).

    • sana says:

      Avoiding the comment that you’re a horrible person for not enjoying Gothic 2, let me say that Risen is basically the same game in a different world with better graphics and other fixes, so you might be disappointed.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Alexander

      Risen has a demo, the smart thing to do would be to try that first. Of course, in my case I can’t get it to install, so I’ve taken that as a hint to wait.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      yes, this game is exactly like gothic2/3.. just the logical upgrade that comes from more time spent researching/developing on the same type of mechanics.

      I don’t understand the rest of what you’ve written though, you pretty much can just explore freely at your own terms in these. especially in gothic3’s insanely huge world. well gothic2 isn’t really that open in the beginning.

  29. Kamos says:

    I left Impossi-woman in that house and never told anyone about her. I came back once to see how she was doing and she gave me stuff. Then, when I came back again, merrily expecting to find her there with more loot for me, she was dead. D-E-D, dead.

    • Railick says:

      and its YOUR Fault, how does that make you feel?

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Well crap. Turns out women ARE helpless :-(

    • Kamos says:

      She has been dead for too many savegames now and, unfortunately, I don’t think the game changes much without her, other than having her body lie there forever, as a mark of my carelessness in this virtual world.

      It would be neat if the game reminded me of this when I finish it. But knowing RPGs, her death is inconsequential.

      Inconsequential. Bwa, ha, ha, ha.

  30. Jorlin says:

    Alec, this is a great way to “review” a game… I am very much looking forward to get it :D
    Even if I get bored later or what so ever… but reading what you “went through” just gives me the impression that I will have at least some nice hours of gaming, exploring and trying which should be worth getting the game :)

  31. Zinic says:

    Nice to see you doing a report like this on Risen Alec, a much better way of telling people what sort of game it actually is.

    Played through it over a weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it, reminded me of Gothic 2 (in a good way). Thank god this wasn’t another Gothic 3.

  32. Markoff Chaney says:

    I’ve found I’m significantly kinder to RPGs when it comes to models and animations, as long as the fundamental mechanics of the game itself are there and solid. Risen seems to be solid as it can be, and quite beautiful as well. I’ve just sat on a cliff and looked around during a sunset and just gave a “Wow. This really is beautiful” and I also quite enjoy the Depth of Field effects during the conversations. The voice acting isn’t half bad either, though I’m an American. It hasn’t induced the same level of wincing that Two Worlds did, that’s for sure and I’m more likely not to skip the voice after I’ve read the text. I also think the water drinking and food eating is meant to not unbalance the game and require more strategic use of potions or force the bed, if need be.

    I also love how, as with the Gothics, Risen rewards exploration and also your taking on of the more difficult encounters before you should be “ready”. I was able to find a shield on a grave near the first shrine you can come across (hidden in a corner, as it should be) and that made my blocking function much better. I’ll not defend the misogynistic tendencies that seem to pervade all of Piranha Bytes’ games, but I can accept them as being a puerile fantasy trope they, sadly, haven’t evolved much past. If convention holds, there will be at least one strong female in the game, though hopefully as murky in intention and design as the majority of the cast.

    Great experience so far, and I’m barely into the game. I love that I can be barely into the game with 8 hours played and still being in Chapter 1. At this rate, Dragon Age has a lot to live up to if it’s going to best this one for RPG of 2009 in my book. However, tactical party dynamics are a different beast, but as far as actually Playing a Role, and hence my true joy in playing an RPG, Risen seems to define itself quite well with proper multiple paths to achieve objectives and a beautiful world that rewards exploration.

  33. kobzen says:

    Having a blast with this game so far. Exploration is the best bit. The map you are given from the start does not show the eastern side of the island. I went there expecting an invisible wall or some gimmick, but turns out it’s the harshest part of the world. I got lost, then the night fell and it started raining so I couldn’t see anything at all. Fell into a chasm, got eaten by something that sounded like an asthmatic lion. Had to wait till morning near a random fire. Sunrises are beautiful in this game.

    • Jorlin says:

      ahh… sounds great :D
      I want my copy to arrive ^^) – I started playing the demo… it is a lot of fun… exploring is the best part… I loved to find the shield and the sword right at the beginning… the gnomes still got me a couple of times. It is actually super easy to resist spoilers… the game is just so much fun :D

  34. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    What’s so tricky (read: bloody annoying) about the combat in Risen is, to me, the fact that it’s nigh impossible to fight a creature alone when others of the same type are nearby. The only way I’ve managed to avoid being ganged upon (other than running for it) was making sure only one can get to me at once.

    Then again, I’ve only played the demo.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      you just have to get a better feel for when they give up the attack. you can separate them quite easily after they start to lose interest. just retreat enough that, let’s say you’ve got three skeletons after you. the ones furthest away as you’re retreating will give up the chase first. so just let those walk away while making sure the one closest to you stays within still totally pissed off distance. and you’ll have separated him from the others in no time for a fair fight. of course this is impossible with enemies that are actually faster than you like boars and wolves. but these are so easy to fight once you get used to the dodge timings that it isn’t an issue at all.

  35. john says:

    How is it misogynistic to admit that 99% of men could very easily beat up 99% of women? Really, the sort of political correctness in which people try to deny basic realities is ridiculous. Admittedly some gamer types are likely to be in the 1% of men who could be beaten up by a woman, but honestly.

    • Wulf says:

      You’re either trolling or you’re using a time-machine to communicate with us from the Victorian era.

      Hi! What’s it like back then? I want a cravat, an authentic Victorian cravat! Can your time machine only send signals, though? If so, that kind of stinks… but if it sends objects, I’d really very much like a cravat! How’d you build a machine capable of communicating with us, anyway? Does it have a round little porthole for a screen, hooked up to a typewriter? You probably can’t see images… it must be like using Lynx! Oh, those were the days…

      Jocular antics aside, with weaponry and martial training, I’d actually say the gender divide is closing more and more with every passing year. Though I don’t think you’d get that even if a few million women with various forms of martial training kicked your rear six ways from Sunday. Maybe I just have a unique perspective, being gay, open minded and able to accept the real world as it is and all that razzmatazz… but I’ve met plenty of strong women.

      99%? That’s just so utterly ridiculous that you’re either blatantly engaging in talentless trolling, you live in your parents basement and you haven’t been exposed to the real world yet, or you’re from the Victorian era and you’re communicating with us via a time-machine. Q.E.D.

      I’d honestly prefer to opt for the more romantic option, because I find it hard to believe that anyone could’ve lived such a sheltered life, with no exposure to the world as it is.

    • Railick says:

      99% of men can beat up 99% of women? Are we talking a 1 on 1 fight here or all 99% of men versus all 99% of women in a massive battle with billions of people at the same time:? In that case I believe women currently out number men by a bit so I Think they’d have a much better chance ;P

      If it is one to one I would say 99% of women could beat YOU up 99% of the time ;P

    • Clearly a Sexist says:

      99% is certainly too high, but as a reference point: Chris Everett noted once that even when she was #1 in her game (tennis) her brother, or brother in law or some such, defeated her consistently in practice games and he wasn’t even a rated tennis player. Good obviously, but not rated.

      Given a man and a woman with equal training, or lack thereof, women are going to be on the losing end of a physical confrontation a very large percentage of the time.

  36. Ergates says:

    If you want to prevent people ‘abusing’ the water barrels then simply limit the amount of health you can regain (over a certain time period) by drinking water.

    And water barrels aren’t the only example of the game taking away control to play annoying animations – was it also their intent to discourage people from opening chests (etc)?

    • Kamos says:

      I know the whole ingredients – food – alchemy system has been inherited from the Gothic games, but still, I would have liked this better:

      Rest anywhere. Resting on a bed is better. Eat / drink because of hunger, Ultima 7 like. If you’re hungry, you don’t recover as many hitpoints. You use potions during fights, not in between fights. And so on.

  37. Hoernchen says:

    This is the first time since.. uh.. long ago that the start actually feels rpg-ish, it takes about 10 hours just to get to act 2 / to be able to learn magical stuff.

  38. Thirith says:

    99% of all men could beat up 99% of all women? Your hyperbole doesn’t exactly help your argument, John.

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      you honestly don’t think this is the case?

    • Funky Badger says:

      He’s not far wrong, mind.

      Although I’d round those numbers down considerably if everyone’s got sharp implements.

      Meaning swords, obv.

  39. Thirith says:

    Absolutely. On average, men are physically stronger than women, but the 99% thing is exaggerated as hell. There are lots of pretty fit women. There are lots of pretty flabby men.

    • Kamos says:

      99% of the men would have their asses kicked. Men NEVER hit women, remember? :P

    • Funky Badger says:

      You’re right, but it’s more complimacated that just fitness (cardio-fitness/muscle-tone) – talking about muscle mass, pretty easy for a guy to be fit and strong and weighing 80 kilos or so, that’s a really unusual shape for a woman…

      All this goes out the window if you factor in weapons (in the original combat question) though.

  40. Jimbot says:

    Hey Alec, by the looks of the screenshots, it seems like you didn’t do that much exploring on the path to the bearded guy. Near the ruins where you fought the Grave Moths, there is a tombstone and next to it is a shield (it’s along the cliff-side, behind some brush). This shield will make your life easier because you can block animal attacks with it.

    Also, I recommend you do the Swamp Camp like beardy suggests. You don’t really get to choose what you want to do until after Harbor Town. So heading to the swamp now won’t automatically associate you with the bandits, that’s a choice you make a little later. There, you can learn skinning, sneak and pickpocking – probably the best skills you can get for the rest of the game. Oh and to be cryptic: save several wolf and boar skins and the pearl necklace you may find, you will want to have one handy for Harbor Town.

  41. Jerad says:

    “Absolutely. On average, men are physically stronger than women, but the 99% thing is exaggerated as hell. There are lots of pretty fit women. There are lots of pretty flabby men.”

    Yeah, but your average flabby man can still usually overpower a fit woman. 99% might be a little high but it’s probably not too far off. I find it amusing that so many people buy into the feminazi myth that the sex organs are the only physical difference between men and women. There’s a reason why women don’t compete with men in the vast majority of athletic enterprises.

  42. Morangie says:

    “There’s a reason why women don’t compete with men in the vast majority of athletic enterprises.”

    Yes, there is. Because it would be a lot more obvious if a woman was taking the same amount of steroids as those guys take.

  43. Radiant says:

    Why is it that just because your first companion is a women you feel the need to feed her and tut at her clothes?

  44. DarthBenedict says:

    I go to the gym quite regularly, and from what I’ve seen, weak, nerdy male beginners lift about as much as on upper body lifts as dedicated, experienced female lifters. It’s closer for lower body strength, but even there male hormones make it far easier to build strength.

    Is this fair? No. Do I think it should be this way? No.

    But it’s what I’ve seen.

    PS: Sorry for the off topic, but I figured it would be interesting for the people participating in this INTARWEB FIGHT.

    • vagabond says:

      I train MMA and BJJ, and I’d say that it takes at least 2 years of training 3+ days a week for the women that come in to gain the technical ability to overcome the raw size/strength advantage that most guys walk in off the street with. Most of them don’t stick it out that long, I can’t imagine that it’s terribly encouraging to have spent 12 months learning something and for it to still not work terribly well. They also aren’t a very large proportion of the class to begin with. The end result is that while martial arts can make a difference, in the real world, the bulk of people who possess that training are male. I really can’t see things being too different in yon medieval fantasy RPG setting (MFRPGS).

      On the other hand, weapons are a better equalizer, especially bladed ones. Strength is still going to be a factor though, and a significantly stronger person will be able to smash through a weaker persons defenses.

      In the real world guns are the great equalizer between people with large differences in strength. Bows and crossbows still have a strength component and so I would suggest that the closer MFRPGS analogue is magic. Given that it has both the benefits of protection without any reliance on physical strength of a gun, with the innate can’t be confiscated when you enter town-ness of a martial art, I would expect that anyone who wanted to defend themselves would take up magic.

      Professional soldiers, town guards, and keen amateurs would still train weapons/unarmed combat of course, in case they ran out of magic, or found themselves at the receiving end of a wand disarm, but for the bulk of the population once you’re capable of casting a few firebolts or magic missiles a day do you really need anything more?
      How many muggings and violent assaults do you expect to have thrown your way in a 24 hour period if you aren’t out actively looking for trouble (aka adventuring)?

      There should be a fourth faction in game. One devoted to the ideal that everyone has the right to cast spells. I’d play Risen then, just to pry wands from cold dead hands…

      Now, since Risen is banned here for incentivising sex and drugs or some such rubbish, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go sit in the corner and sob quietly.

    • DarthBenedict says:

      If the ‘here’ you’re referring to is Australia, I found out you can get the game via gamersgate anyway.

  45. Sam C. says:

    I think it’s the choice of clothing that’s a little off for the lady companion. It looks like some sort of undergarment, that can’t be very comfortable. Can’t she just wear a damn shirt? Her curves could make a burlap sack look sexy. The developers could at least give her some dignity.

    • Sam C. says:

      And sexy only for very low values of computer animated sexy. Attractive might be more appropriate, if a little in the uncanny valley.

  46. Chris says:

    Right. And in a fantasy world, where people walk around bristling with weapons, slinging spells, and carrying frying pans to cook all animal meat the same way, there’s absolutely NO excuse for portrayals of 1/2 the population as whiny, hyper-sexualized, and unable to defend themselves. The time for this garbage is over and while presentations of women as trophies (a la The Witcher’s playing cards) might be so over the top as to be funny, having a doting, dutiful woman following the big strong hero around in this game sounds just as sexist- and frankly, dull- as anything that’s been published in the past few years. Looks like I’ll be voting with my wallet again and avoiding this piece of misogyny.

    • Sam C. says:

      I think that’s a slight overreaction.
      I agree it’s a shame that women in games aren’t dressed more realistically, and their rolls could be expanded, but I don’t think it’s blatant misogyny, and not a purposeful attempt to be sexist on the part of the developers.
      She was probably made dependent for gameplay reasons – it’s a lot easier to set an NPC just to follow rather than lead or fight. I guess they could have replaced her with a male, but why? A woman was probably chosen because it’s more traditional, the ‘damsel in distress’ and all that, even though she doesn’t seem that much in distress. She guides and helps you along the way up the introductory path.
      Most males do feel more protective of females, and wouldn’t care as much if they were escorting a guy. That’s a generalization, and obviously not everyone playing the game is going to be a guy (or straight), but most likely the majority, that and the majority of the developers were male and didn’t give it a second thought.

    • Kamos says:

      What is the problem if she just follows you around? Why is she supposed to be a fighter and help you fight?

  47. castle says:

    Wrote this off when I saw the brutal Eurogamer review. Wrote it off further with your first report of scantily-clad ladies and crude voice acting.

    But now…I feel a growing desire for it. I think I’m just RPG deprived, though. Witcher didn’t do it for me, and it’s been a long time since we had a blockbuster open world fantasy-styled RPG. Still crossing my fingers for Dragon Age, though if both it and Risen turn out to be trash I’m gonna have to go out back and have a good cry.

  48. Renzatic says:

    I’m running Windows 7 32-bit, and I also can’t play Gothic 1 or 2. I had a thread running over at GoG trying to resolve the issue, and it seems the only way to get it running properly is to buy an ATI card or scale back to really old Forceware drivers. Seems Nvidia changed something, messed something up, goofed around too much, and now their most recent drivers hard crash your computer whenever you try to fire up the first two Gothics.

    Sucks…but what can you do?

  49. Renzatic says:

    And why do my replies never go underneath the person I’m replying to? Here I am, at the bottom of the page, all replying to a guy halfway up the conversation. Makes for awkward social situations.

  50. Papageno says:

    Does anyone have Renzatic’s issue in XP 32 bit?

    And did some Limbot up there actually write “feminazi”? Ugh.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      There is nothing wrong with the word feminazi, but it has a very specific meaning that the other guy completely missed, since he was talking about cross-gender equality, which is one of the stated goal of the feminist agenda.

      Feminazis are the crazy anti-male people who think women are biologically superior to men and need to be put in charge while men are reduced to subservience and made to do menial chores.