Risen Arises

Pirhanha Bytes – the venerated and cheerily mad studio behind the Gothic RPGs – are backbackback with next month’s Risen. I’ve spent a little time with some preview code, and they’ve just released a making-of video. See how I kill two birds with one stone. I am Bird-Killer, killer of birds.

My experiences with the game are fairly brief so far – I got sidetracked by Majesty 2 – but general impression is it’s rickety and strange and cold… but promising. Risen’s is a hostile world – it begins with me washed up on shore from a shipwreck, the corpses of my former companions grimly littering the beach. I take their stuff. It feels wrong, but I have no other possessions, no other means of getting them.

I’m attacked by monsters, I meet a couple of surly guards, and eventually I find a small town. It’s not a happy place. The unseen, unelected ruler of it takes the earnings of everyone who lives there, and his direct employees are bad-tempered bullies. Others seem more friendly. There’s a great/horrible early quest in which an apparently helpful NPC asks you to come with him to fight something or other. You trot along willingly because, hey, cash! Fighting!

Then he beats the snot out of you and nicks all your stuff.

It’s possible I could have beaten him, if I was a little more accustomed to the combat system and less frustrated by the bizarre camera (the player character is like a third-person model stuck uncomfortably onto the front of a first-person perspective), but in a masochistic sort of way I enjoyed getting my arse handed to me.

It’s a fascinating statement of intent on the game’s part – this isn’t some fluffy, friendly world. I have to say I was a little ticked off I couldn’t then declare war on the nasty oik without the entire town attacking me, but perhaps it’s something that’s revisited later in the game.

I only got a little time to explore beyond that, but I get the sense there may be a sizeable world beyond. There were certainly plenty of options in terms of where to go, who to talk to and how to talk to them. I started creeping towards potential resolutions to the greedy-overlord situation, and with hints that however it played out, someone would lose. No easy answers, I suspect.

Will I play further? Mmmaybe. There was promise, but nothing oh-gosh-wow, perhaps aside from the relentless gloom. The interface and levelling system was crude and poorly explained, but that latter could be down to this being early code. I have no doubt this’ll find a passionate audience, as the Gothics did, but what I saw was distractingly rustic in its presentation. Perhaps it’s the next Witcher, in both the good and not-so-good ways that suggests. I’ll be interested to see the response to it, certainly.

Also, the preview code included a button to change my character’s haircut instantly. I fear this is just a facet of the early code, but hereby petition it is left in.

Oh yes, that making of video. Discusses, among other things, the nature of German humour and how it compares to American and British humour. Apparently we’re all still watching Monty Python.

Oh, and that humour style? Something like this, apparently.

God knows what that’s on about, but I fear farting plus Euro-house may be pandering to stereotype a liiiiiitle too much.

Perhaps you’re better off with this trailer. Features a soundtrack from Nightwish, who are apparently ‘the most successful symphonic/gothic metal band world-wide.’ Jolly good.


  1. Tei says:

    Oh.. gothic, the game that ATE savefiles, in a way that reinstalling the game don’t fix. The game that is very good AND very awfull.

    • ilves says:

      Which Gothic are you referring to? Gothic 3 was a bug-ridden mess, 1 and 2 were solid but much older (and awesome)

  2. dancingcrab says:

    Hopefully it’ll be better than your initial impression… I’ve got love for Gothic and Gothic 2 but Gothic 3 was a missed opportunity.

  3. Marty Dodge says:

    It involves Nightwish, always a plus, since they do cracking female-led symphonic metal. Game looks interesting and promising.

  4. SpoonySeeker says:

    “I have to say I was a little ticked off I couldn’t then declare war on the nasty oik without the entire town attacking me,”

    Try being a bit more clever about it, this isn’t Oblivion or Fallout 3 where you can run around bashing whomever you like with swords and no one bats an eyelash so long as your target has the arbitrary ‘bad guy’ label.

  5. Pemptus says:

    I’m in the middle of replaying Gothic 2 with the expansion for the fifth time. Once you get used to the controls and “get” the mechanics and various quirks it’s an absolute blast. Gothic 1 was equally great, but with shoddier controls and slightly inferior combat system.

    I can’t stress this enough – G 1&2 are excellent games, you just need to take a while to adapt to them, they only seem a bit “rickety and strange and cold” (a fairly accurate description by Alec) at first. Gothic 3 is poo poo, of course, but everyone knows that.

    I’m very, very much hoping Risen won’t be of the Gothic 3 school of shitty game design.

  6. Schaulustiger says:

    Early previews based on this code at least prove one thing: that Risen will be nearly bug-free. And that is crucial after the bug-fest that Gothic 3 was.
    Besides that, I hope that Piranha Bytes got their act together after the nasty split up with Jowood and release a true spiritual successor to Gothic 2. If they can do that, I’m probably gonna spend quite some time with Risen.

  7. Paul says:

    “Perhaps it’s the next Witcher, in both the good and not-so-good ways that suggests.”

    Witcher only had good ways (I know that isn’t a proper expression).Also, this game is gonna rock, can’t wait to explore another amazingly realized virtual world.PBs are masters of their craft.

  8. Muhammad Haggag says:

    Agreed on Gothic 2. That’s my favorite installment of the series by far. I disagree a bit with you regarding Gothic 3, though. It is absolute shit in official form, yes, but it’s good (from a gameplay perspective) with the 1.72 community patch. Not Gothic 2, but close enough for me. It’s still technically horrible though. They bit more than they can chew with the open-world load-on-demand engine. Performance stinks.

    • Muhammad Haggag says:

      Eh, my post was supposed to be in reply to Pemptus. I thought it’d be shown under it, but it isn’t.

    • Pemptus says:

      I think I tried Gothic 3 some months ago with a community patch (can’t recall which one) and it absolutely crawled on my semi-decent Crysis-running-on-medium PC. Maybe some day…

    • ilves says:

      the community patch worked fine for me, gameplay wise Gothic 3 is fine with it. Story wise? Please, the ending was horrible crap. After spending all that time doing the same repetitive town quests in every single town, I walked up to a blank rock wall, clicked on it, and the game ended. ??????

  9. Carra says:

    As far as game trailer music goes Nightwish sure beats Marilyn Manson.

  10. SirKicksalot says:

    Those gnomes are kinda cute. I actually lol’d.

  11. Batolemaeus says:

    Did they include an irc client into the game, like in gothic 3? :)

  12. richmcc says:

    I found that if you started from a position of zero cash, repeatedly townspeople-bashing, falling down, then re-bashing was a useful way to get capital. Until I discovered sneaking, that is.

    The review code I played was hugely reliant on money to advance, and felt slightly off-kilter because of it.

  13. A-Scale says:

    So how does this compare to jolly old Oblivion? Graphically? AI wise? Expansiveness wise?

    • futage says:

      If it’s owt like the Gothics, and the vid seems to be heavily suggesting that it is, then it’s going to be absolutely nothing like Oblivion at all (but in a good way, for the most part, I reckon).

      I could never quite get into the Gothics, but they were certainly intriguing. It’d be nice to have another try.

  14. skizelo says:

    Have they figured out a way of making your character pick things up which doesn’t involve two arcane menus and the use of keys on the opposite side of the board from one another?
    Because,as I learned when I picked up Gothic 2 a while ago, those are the most important things for me as a gamer: all I ask is for inventory management to not be completelty cat-brained.

  15. Sparvy says:

    Amazing box-quote right there, ‘Beats the snot out of you and nicks all your stuff’- Alec Meer

  16. KaputtChino says:

    Oh hell Gothic 1 & 2 what sweet gaming Memories. Loved thos games, sure they had a pretty f****d up controls (especially 1) and menues (inventory and stuff) but as soon as you started to know what you were doing its atmosphere sucked you in. 3 in fact was one great disappointment: not only a bugfest but also didn't I like how the story went on. Also hated that even in the 3rd game my stupid german comrades couldn't get the controls done right.

    But for Risen I'm all fueled up again. Does not seem as rushed as G3 and seems to have a lot of heart and motivation behind it.

  17. yhancik says:

    Risen: The Vequel of Mivt.

  18. ZIGS says:

    How well does it run? What’s your PC specs?

  19. Digit says:

    Wow, are they just the coolest devs ever? I really want them to do well, get out from under the thumbs of terrible publishers. They have such amazing talent, their art and atmosphere in their games is really second to none. :o

  20. nef says:

    Definitely will be picking this one up.

    Also, look into ludicra

  21. Arkose says:

    skizelo, what you are describing is only if you play Gothic II with the Gothic 1 control scheme (which is unfortunately the default). Once you change to the new control scheme every action is done with a single click or key press. Gothic 3 and Risen have inherited this refined control scheme.

  22. Nighthood says:

    For fuck’s sake, why does it have to be nightwish? They’re just a generic, not very good metal band with a female lead that tries in vain to sing “opera” then falls flat on her stupid, “symphonic metal” face. Worst thing is that now there is an ailment I have chosen to name “Nightwishitis”, where metal bands feel obliged to get a female singer, and, surprisingly, get her to try and sing “opera-style”. It’s shit like this that made me go off metal.

    Anyway, end metal rant, game looks quite good.

    • chischis says:

      If it had to be any metal, The Fucking Champs or Mastodon would have been preferable. :)

      I tried to get into Gothic 2, have been side-tracked with real-life crap lately and haven’t gone back to it. But it DID have that elusive Ultima feel to it. Ahh… all I want is another Ultima Underworld and I’d be happy. All these games have to have massive open worlds, why not massive dungeons?

  23. Karry says:

    So, will it have the crappiest, Nazi-made controls all Gothic games had ?

  24. Griffin says:

    This looks interesting, I have never played the Gothic games before so i dont know what to expect.

  25. schurem says:

    that gnome trailer is actually quite funny. yes its german humour. and without command of the language, all you are left with is a fart and eurohouse. easy to see where those stereotypes come from, eh mr dont-know-any-languages-but-mine englishman?

  26. whizzedoutwoz says:

    Holy shit ET has let him self go.

  27. Subject 706 says:

    Preordered this, will get it next friday. I almost NEVER preorder games, been burned too many times, so PLEASE PLEASE PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON TOP Piranha, make this a worthy successor to Gothic 2 and forget that Gothic 3 ever existed.

  28. Lewis says:

    I’m under NDA on this at the moment so can’t say much, but… yeah. I need to play a lot more of it before I make up my mind yet. It’s an interesting one.

  29. Lewis says:

    Oh, and yes: the gloom and unfriendliness of the place is so striking. I suspect it could grate a little if it doesn’t let up later on, but at the start of the game it’s basically like escaping the prison in Oblivion to find that everyone on the outside world absolutely hates your guts and wants to beat the crap out of you. Even the “nicest” people swear at you for a bit before begrudgingly accepting your presence. Ouch.

  30. AndrewC says:

    I liked the muddiness of the Gothics – it is a series much more at home in the pub than the palace. Almost everyone is poor and grumpy and a bit shifty. It’s not the theatrical, self-chosen misery of actual goths, but the more matter-of-fact misery of those who get drunk and smoke, cough, swampweed, to forget their troubles. That more ‘ground-level’ take on RPG world building always appealed to me.

    Plus real Gothic fans are not going to get caught up on the vicissitudes of the control system or voice acting as most reviews probably (and rightly) will, as we’ve all already gotten used to them the hard way.

    All we’ll care about is the atmosphere, the interesting relationships between the factions and whether the main character is enough of a sarcastic ass.

    • Jochen Scheisse says:

      That’s what always attracted me to the Gothic series, too: The general grittiness of the setting (more at home in the pub than the palace hit it on the head).

      Also a world where a normal person rarely starts the conversation with “OOOH A STRANGER! LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS!” You’re the new guy, broke and not connected? That makes you a nuisance at best, a mark at worst.

  31. Alistair says:

    Risen time already? Hallelujah! Don’t let us donwn PB…

  32. Rope Reed Sock says:

    What I want to know if it has any memory leaks, probably not after gothic 3 but still…
    I probably would have loved Gothic 3 if I had more then 5 fps, none the less I’m probably getting this I love these sort of games.

  33. Pani says:

    Almost fell off my chair after reading this!

    Good call.

  34. Pani says:

    hmmm, my last comment was directed at whizzedoutwoz, my reply button didn’t reply just to his post.

  35. Kem0sabe says:

    And what craft is that… Making horribly bugged RPG’s?

  36. Devan says:

    You mean… we’re not all still watching Monty Python??

  37. Schadenfreude says:

    Gone and pre-ordered this. I actually enjoyed Gothic 3 despite how broken it was so I think I’ll be safe with this one. That and I’m suffering from such a gaming drought at the moment.

    Ah well, Darklands will tide me over for another week.

  38. Urthman says:

    An article about this game over at RPGWatch quotes Piranha Bytes as saying that Risen differs from the Gothic games in that they’ve put more love and emphasis on rewarding exploration. Which is sort of like Rocksteady saying they’re going to make another Batman game except this time it will have really solid combat.

    I’m trying to say that exploration was one of the things they did best in the Gothic games, so if they’re really concentrating on their strength in that way, then I am officially excited about this game.

  39. malkav11 says:

    Definitely sounds like Gothic to me. I mean, this is the series where the first game is set in a prison camp.

  40. toro says:

    @DM: Sorry to bust your bubble but please do a review of this site, there is a lot of hype. After all, this is a site related to gaming and hype is certainly not a bad thing in the right quantity or for the right reason. I’m not asking for more hype, for that we have gamespot and the others.
    However my issue is that after reading the article I have the feeling that Alec never took seriously the game. Now this raises more questions than answers and I don’t have the time for another exercise in futility. Peace. ;)

    • Alec Meer says:

      And I have the feeling you’ve leapt to your own presumptions rather than calmly reading the part where I openly say all I’ve had the chance to see of the game so far is a short time with the preview code.
      It’s not a review, it doesn’t even slightly claim to be a review , and the assertion that I didn’t ever take the game seriously stems only from your presumptive mind. Remember RPS is essentially unpaid. We can’t spend every moment of our spare time playing every piece of code we get for hours, otherwise we’d only get up two posts a week.

  41. UK_John says:

    Low review scores for Gothic games, and next including Risen, because we now have dumbed down reviewers and gaming sites with spotty teenage staff grown up mostly on dumbed down console gaming. The more reviewers say this game is too bloody hard, the more keen I will be to buy it, as an old time PC gamer fed up with dumbed down games. No wonder PC gamers are going back to DOS RPG’s using DOSBox, (after all, that utility has had 5 million downloads!!!) given the state of hardcore PC gaming!.

  42. dingo says:

    The example of humor is not that great to be honest.
    The main joke is that it’s a parody of a very famous German tv icon from older times who did very popular animal films. The easily recognized voice is spot-on.
    link to en.wikipedia.org
    That person brought the “Wild Life” into German homes (on tv-sets) and got fantastic viewer ratings.

    Of course this is something that is totally unknown and not funny to anyone either too young to having watched his captivating shows back then or not having lived in Germany at those times.

  43. Flimgoblin says:

    After buying a new graphics card to just about get Gothic 3 running at FPS instead of SPF (bearing in mind the computer was about 2 years newer than the game…) I quite enjoyed playing it for the first two towns.

    Then I got to the third town and it started feeling a bit samey… so I decided to run north, go to another distant town and see what I could see.

    And once again there was the same bunch of rebels hanging around nearby with some quests to kill some orcs, the orcs offering quests to do bad things to the rebels.

    And the same at the next town.

    I uninstalled it.

    I’m waiting to hear from someone who’s played this through whether it’s better than Gothic 3 – Gothic 1 and 2 were really good (though I couldn’t stand the original Gothic 2 campaign after playing the expansion pack section)

  44. Railick says:

    What is their deal with orcs? Why do they hate orcs so much? They need to come up with something more original than fecking orcs all the time. Orcs this orcs that. Wow, LORT,Warhammer orcs orcs orcs i'm getting sick of freaking orcs anyone else? I Mean , I love my orcs as much as the next dude but come on does ever single game ever made have to have orcs and goblins in it?

  45. anotherman7 says:

    I've just started playing through Gothic 2 again, and it really is amazing. It has a great open world feeling without feeling empty, unlike The Elder Scrolls and such. It's much closer to Ultima or Divine Divinity. I also love the feeling of advancement you get. Being a level 35 mage and killing dozens of orcs at once is enough to make you cry after quicksaving before every wolf at level 4. I'd highly recommend it to any RPG fan, remembering that the controls and voice acting are terrible. You can clearly tell that Xardas the necromancer is Jack the sailor doing a pirate voice. As for Risen, the demo has hooked me and I'll be getting it soon.

  46. UK_John says:

    Can we all please remember that ALL RPG’s are buggy on release. The only difference between the Elder Scrolls and the Gothic series is that bugs are fixed in the ES RPG’s though modders, (the unofficial patch for Oblivion has over 5,000 bug fixes!), whereas Gothic games actually get patches!

    So when it comes to RPG’s can we talk about them patched rather than vanilla? Bugs or no bugs, every Gothic game beats vanilla Oblivion. Only modded Oblivion can compete with the Gothic series, The Witcher, etc.

  47. Railick says:

    There is a public patch for Gothic 3 as well that picks up with their devs left off (possibly because of legal issues with the publisher) without the public patch for Gothic 3 it is unplayable IMO. ( actually found it unplayable even with it :P )

    Shadowcat “It hammers at my retinas like an evil woodpecker of pure energy”