The Risen 3 Report, Day 4: The Salem Duck Trials

Previously on the Risen 3 Report:

Evil Pirate Porn Star Sisters!
Garth Merenghi’s Dark Arts Place!
Scrotal Fashion!
Several hours of adventuring in the pirate town of Antigua, which I’m not going to tell you about because it was pretty dull!
Now: a suspicious duck.

Jack The Sack’s boss wants me to rid Fog Island of Soul Eaters, which are basically big, bony dogs who seem far more interested in eating my legs than they do my soul. He was pretty rude about it, all “don’t you know who I am” and “the Inquisition is in charge here”, so my scenery-chewing voodoo chum Bones and I simply wander off. We kill a few Hulk Chickens and land-bats (land-bats are really tough, oddly), and I turn into a parrot for a while.

We’ve just about run out of things to do on this side of the island when we hear the sound of combat. “At last, a chance to use my blade!” bellows Voodoo Matt Berry Bones, who fought two land-bats not 30 seconds ago. Still, I appreciate his enthusiasm. Bracing ourselves for more Hulk Chickens or perhaps even one of the damned hellhounds we slew several dozen of back in Antigua, we rush in. And grind to a halt:

Wait. What. Why are they fighting ducks? Who do we help here? Should we even get involved? Is murdering two men to save the lives of a half-dozen wildfowl the noble thing to do? And Bones, why are you so enthusiastic about it?

My dithering lasts too long. The ducks… Oh God. I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but… the ducks didn’t make it.

I know what I must do. I must uncover the reason for this atrocity.

Well, quite. While this goon initially comes across as universally anatidaephobic, he eventually calms somewhat and narrows his fear down to one particular Suspicious Duck. While, inevitably, he wants my help – because after enthusiastically slaughtering half a dozen ducks he suddenly believes further fowlicide is beyond him – he now feels that the duck majority should be left in peace.

I attempt to gesture in disbelief and disgust at all the poor birds who perished on the way to this decision, but as I do I discover that their bodies are apparently made of chicken meat.

Go figure.

I’m still making my mind up about whether I want to go all Elmer Fudd on this purported Suspicious Duck, so I decide to pick the brains of the other bird-bully here. While troublingly un-self-aware, Bones’ reaction is appropriate.

Hey, don’t you call me a White Knight, you nasty little Men’s Rights To Kill Ducks Activist. Although I will accept the label ‘Avian Justice Warrior.’ Issues with sanity aside, he just seems highly unpleasant. No way am I becoming the agent of his spurious prejudices. However, I will check out this Suspicious Duck.

Is this a Suspicious Duck?

No. Is this a Suspicious Duck?

Is this a Suspicious Duck?

No. Is this a Suspicious Duck?

Is this a Suspicious Duck?

No. Is this a Suspicious Duck?

N… wait a minute. That is a very Suspicious Duck! Actually it’s not – it’s just a different colour. (And maybe species, but you’d have to check with Bill Oddie). But it’s labelled Suspicious so I suppose I have to run with that. Even so, this feels wrong. I am really not in the business of attacking people because they don’t look the same as everyone else around them.

But. What if. What if it’s more than simply Suspicious. What if people are in danger because of whatever this Suspicious Duck is up to? Oh man, they’ve got to me: truly, I am suspicious, but I have no way to confirm or disprove those suspicions other than by attacking this Suspicious Duck. If only you could talk to the Suspicious Ducks. Now that would be something.

I turn to leave. Freeze. The suspicion is overwhelming. Maybe, maybe if I stab it just once, lightly, even if it turns out to be Just A Duck after all, it will survive and all will be well. Or even if it is Just A Duck and dies, at least I’ll have proven that it isn’t really a Suspicous Duck. Please, no-one mention the Salem Witch Trials. This is completely different. I don’t have a cool traffic cone-shaped hat with a buckle on the front, for one thing.

Oh God, this is agony. On the one hand, I want to be the guy who defeats evil. On the other hand, I don’t want to the guy who randomly stabs ducks. We just met two of them after all, and those guys were jerks.

I close my eyes, and lunge.


Oh, God. It really was Suspicious. It was a Soul Eater, no less. Surely there are more efficient ways to eat souls than pretending to be a big brown duck? Still: it’s dead. I’m a hero, not a bird-slaying jerk. I wonder what the bird-slaying jerks have to say about all this.

I AM A HERO TO THE DUCKS. I know this because a madman told me I was.

I’m feeling pretty good about myself, all told. Breezily, I wander back to the duckpond, to watch the now safe and now innocent Peaceful Ducks going about their quacky business. That’s when I notice something terrible. Something I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to live with.

Be my pal. Tell me, am I good man?

The Risen Report will return the week after next.


  1. melnificent says:

    You killed a peaceful duck and it broke his wife, who now just sits muttering to herself pretending it hasn’t happened. The children left home due to the trauma fell in with a bad crowd and were killed in a police shootout.

    Mummy duck just sits there going quack, quack quack but no little ducks will come swimming back.

  2. Keyrock says:

    I take it Alec has never seen a turkey, because the “suspicious duck” is clearly more than just a different color from the other ducks.

    • JB says:

      Phew, I thought I’d imagined that.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Look, Risen isn’t set in our reality. It says ‘duck’. Therefore it is a duck in that reality, which by an astonishing coincidence just so happens to look like a turkey from our reality.

    • Geebs says:

      Now now, no need to grouse about details like that

      • RARARA says:

        Yeah, he just ran afoul some foul fowl.

        • Vacuity729 says:

          I quail at your puns. We all need to find a more pheasant topic of conversation.

          • Geebs says:

            I think that changing to emu topic at this point wood pecker up the thread

          • colossalstrikepackage says:

            This is mother ducking crazy. Those ducks wake at the quack of dawn to swim, fly and waddle their way into your hearts before you look down and notice the oversized bill staring back at you.

  3. PopeRatzo says:

    I started wearing one of those yesterday. Got several compliments. My wife told me it looked “Great, just great”, but insisted I take it off when we went out. Probably doesn’t want other women to see how good I look wearing a little poke sack hanging from the front of my belt.

    Yeah, that must be it.

  4. thesundaybest says:

    Yes…that suspicious duck looks like what I ate last Christmas.

  5. Jazzyboy says:

    Should have just killed the duck killers in the first place. Then all the ducks could be left in peace. I mean, who cares if there’s a Soul Eater rampaging about?! At least the ducks would live!

  6. jonahcutter says:

    Yesterday I observed several suspicious ducks in the window of the dim sum joint I lunched in.

  7. tumbleworld says:

    It is terrifying.

    • Harlander says:

      In 2014, Alec Meer slew Suspicious Duck the Duck of Suspicion in Risen 3.

  8. amateurviking says:

    Alec, your vegetarian berserker ways must find these duck killings unbearable!

  9. SanguineAngel says:

    The only possible reason I can think of for the Soul Eater’s ruse is as a chance at a new life. Simpler and with less soul eating. When stabbed with a sword, OF COURSE it got violent. But answer me this – who was it harming prior to your sword stabbing?

  10. Drake Sigar says:

    Dibs on the duck’s wallet.

  11. bill says:

    So this game is an out and out intentional comedy?

    • frightlever says:

      I’m finding these write-ups funny but the general opinion seems to be that it’s the best in the Risen series and possibly the best thing PB have done. You can analyse anything to the point of absurdness, if that’s your mindset. Most of PB’s games have reviewed badly but they have a fan following, even when the games are, unquestionably, “bad” by any measure, they’re still better than the alternatives, which are thin to non-existent.

      And like I said it’s a funny series of write-ups but when I get round to playing it I’ll be playing it as someone who has enjoyed not just every PB game and expansion but virtually every fantasy RPG put in front of them (not Gorasul) because I simply enjoy the escapism and I’m not playing as an exercise in (funny!) snark.

      • baozi says:

        Possibly the best thing PB have done? Most of PB’s games have reviewed badly? The games are unquestionably bad by any measure?

        No, no. You have it all wrong. People who don’t think that Gothic 1 and 2 are one of the best RPGs ever made just don’t have any taste in games, that’s all. And I’m only half joking.

        • kament says:

          I’m with frightlever on this one. Far as I can tell it is the best thing PB have ever done. Certainly the biggest in terms of content. More “gamey” perhaps, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It engrossed me like none of the PB games since G2 did. And that’s something I didn’t think was even possible.

          PB are definitely back in form and I hope their next big thing will be next-gen or at least cross-gen.

          • baozi says:

            Mh. I haven’t played Risen 3 so I can’t comment on it specifically; this was more about the comments on Piranha Bytes games in general. I’m skeptical about Risen 3 after its predecessor. But I think that many reviewers just don’t get what made the early Piranha Bytes games so great. If someone didn’t like G1/2, there really is no need to know their opinion on other PB games. I’m not claiming the games are perfect at all, but there’s most definitely something about them that’s hard if not impossible to find elsewhere. Saying the games are »unquestionably bad by any measure« is just absurd, even more so if you profess you like to play them…

          • kament says:

            Somehow I get the feeling you’ve read Jim Sterling’s write-up over at Escapist. ))

            As for the R3, it’s giving me the same vibe as G2, no less. Actually, it has a few new nifty tricks on top of that. It starts small, though only relatively—comparing to R2 the starting area is huge.

            And then it gets bigger. Each of the three very distinct main areas—Taranis, Kila and Calador—is bigger than Faranga. And wonderfully crafted, too. With the return of swimming and addition of flying it’s a pleasure to navigate. Whereas R2 was sorely lacking the sense of discovery, R3 has that in spades. Wherever you go (and you can go virtually anywhere*, R3 is not restrictive as it’s predecessor), you find something, be that a new quest, a person in distress or rare loot.

            All in all, I haven’t had so much fun with a PB game since Gothic 2. No everyone would agree, naturally: some people dislike somewhat more ‘gamey’ crafting, others feel the game is too forgiving. But for me it’s something I have long since given up hopes to get. Take that for what you will.

            *Go, but not fly, unfortunately. There’s a couple of invisible walls in the game for those who like to parrot their way around. ))

  12. Brosecutor says:

    While Alec successfully captures the insanity that is Risen 3, so far I’m actually impressed with the game. It’s flawed (as usual), but it’s also immersive as hell in a way all those fancy Skyrims and Witchers and Dragon Ages couldn’t even touch. So far, it surpasses most other Gothic/Risen games for me, except for Gothic 2, which remains the gold standard.

  13. Blackcompany says:

    Tried to like it. I really did. Made it less than 1.5 hours before I realized that the voice acting is the worst I have ever encountered in modern games and that combat is so fundamentally broken that its useless as a mechanic. How many other games have a block/parry feature that functionally does not work?

    The game is not flawed. Its completely broken.

    • frightlever says:

      Can you play it in German with subtitles? Just a thought.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Worse than Game of Thrones?

      • Blackcompany says:

        Never played GoT. There’s not a single thing about that universe left that I like after book 2 of the series. And that’s the nicest thing I have to say about Martin’s writing. So unfortunately I cannot say how it compares there.

        But in terms of acting, its bad. I am willing to bet its as close to objectively, critically bad as you’re going to find on the market, to be perfectly honest about it.

        Combat wise, that might be a little more subjective. Still though, I fail to see why you would include a parry mechanic that literally never blocks an incoming attack successfully.

    • kament says:

      How many other games have a block/parry feature that functionally does not work?
      The Witcher 2 springs to mind. It was even worse there: before you unlock and buy a skill (which basically happens as the story unfolds), you block only half the melee damage. Or you can’t block at all? Hell I forget. Combined with ridiculous difficulty spike at the start of the game… well, you can forget about parrying altogether and just roll with the punches. Literally.

      R3 works way better in this respect, and when all else fails, you can still resort to rolling. ))

  14. dongsweep says:

    Great read! I love these journals. The RPS team have some of the funniest, talented journalists and I hate seeing it wasted on reporting the news only because they are some of the best story tellers out there. Less focus on what is coming out and more focus on what is out, happy we have John’s Forest write up too.

  15. RedViv says:

    Can this please go on forever? Can the game be infinite, and the giggles derived from your write-ups with them?

  16. E_FD says:

    …you’ve just sold me on this game.

    • green frog says:

      Yeah, I want to go play this. Oddly enough these ridiculous reports are just making me like this game more instead of putting me off.

  17. forgetdeny says:

    From these write-ups, I’m getting the impression that this is a joke game rather than a “serious” RPG?

  18. drewski says:

    Collateral duckage.

  19. HansKaosu says:

    This is pure gold.. hilarious

  20. Tei says:

    This article is hilarius :D