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The Risen 3 Report, Day 9: A Haircut That Means Business

Jarhead 2: Field of Fire

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This will be the penultimate Risen 3 Report; the next and final one will be a Wot I Think. I’ve held my cards close to my chest about how I feel about this RPG, and very soon it’s time to reveal all.

Apologies if you wanted these to continue FOREVER or something, but it’s simply time to turn my attention to other games. For now, let’s talk discuss real progress, and forcible haircuts.


For quite some time, I’ve had my heart set upon becoming a mage. Beating up animals in the woods had begun to lose its charm, and I wanted to mix things up a bit. By, er, beating them up in a different way. I spent a lot of time on Taranis, the mages’ island, struggling to ascertain exactly what it was they wanted of me if I was to be given license to zap things with crystal magic. If I’m honest, I was fervently hoping there’d be a hat in it. Mages have hats, right?

The more time I spent questing for them, the more discomfited I became. None of the mages were inspiring figures. They just hung around in libraries and used a group of gnomes as indentured servants, intermittently saddling them with menial chores or blindly accusing them of theft. The Gnomes did sound worryingly like supporting cast aliens from Star Wars Episode 1 (you know what I’m implying, right), and they insisted on calling me ‘Homi’ instead of asking my name, but they seemed good-natured and hard-done-by. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with siding with the group who treated them like crap.

Plus the mages had these reedy little voices, they didn’t openly wield any cool magic, and they repeatedly intimated that I was too damned stupid to ever join their ranks. They were dicks, basically, and worst of all there wasn’t a single hat in sight.

Well, guess what, poindexters? I don’t want to join your ranks. To prove it, I did all their quests, which took hours and primarily involved going down the mines and beating things up on their behalf, and finally reached the point of a cordial invitation to become a Guardian. (A Guardian is to a mage what a Brownie is to a Girl Guide, but hey, it’s a start). At that point, I simply walked away. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member. Or that didn’t give out hats.

Unless they’re the super-cool DEMON HUNTERS, of course. They can have me. I did feel some regret as I left Taranis for Calador, home of the black-armoured Demon Hunters. I’d invested a lot of time and effort into Mage Island, even down to setting up a poor homeless shmoe with a job as a floor sweeper. I could have had it all. But no, it just wasn’t me. I knew that signing up with the mages would prevent me from signing up with anyone else, but as much as I was concerned I’d miss out on cooler things, I just didn’t want the stigma of being on board with those supercilious, do-nothing pricks.

To Calador. To new adventures. To stylish black leather armour. To short-range teleporting instead of forward rolls. I was particularly invested in becoming a Demon Hunter for that reason – I’d done more somersaults than forty-eight series of Tumble by this point.

Calador immediately seemed a better fit. The Demon Hunters seemed to have at least some interest in making the world a better place (i.e. by actively hunting demons), and they didn’t look like school chaplains. They even suggested that I’d be able to join them if I was able to help them out sufficiently, rather than the mages’ “NO WAY NEVER YOU MORON oh wait you’ve done a load of annoying chores for us, ‘spose so” approach.

Basically, the Demon Hunters seemed like dudes, and I sure wanted to be a dude too. They’d even set up home in the most dramatic locale I’d visited yet. Sure, the mages had lightning-attracting monoliths and particularly picturesque cottage in the middle of a lake, but ultimately their whole setup was like a bunch of driving instructors had gone on holiday in the Lake District. The Demon Hunters had giant green-fire beacons on obsidian clifftops, ancient black fortresses overlooking vast rivers of lava, and even a windmill. I do like a windmill, especially when it’s set against an apocalyptic backdrop.

The Demon Hunters were really in the thick of things. They’d worked out how to demolish the Crystal Portals that were spawning new demons all over the shop, they’d voyaged right into the dark heart of the evil-infested island and suffered heavy losses for it, they’d tried to help local farmers, and only one of them had engaged in inappropriate relationships with the local bar staff. Shame they hadn’t taken five minutes to deal with the violent arsehole who demanded a toll from everyone who went into the tavern, though. I beat him up twice, just to make sure he got the message. And also to show off.

After my experience with the mages, I had a pretty good idea what the Demon Hunters would expect from me: go help out several of their number, who by sheer coincidence just happened to scattered to the furthest reaches of the island, solve every problem going and report back. Basically, out-hero the heroes and then they’d let me become a Junior Hero.

It took a while, it involved a great deal of killing and I must admit to some impatience. Until now I’d tried hard to be polite to those I conversed with, even though my mouth regularly demonstrated an angry, sweary mind of its own, but I’ve become weary of smiling in the face of near-constant abuse. Granted, Team Demon Hunter’s general demeanour is more ‘Bored Job Centre Staff’ than the outright unpleasantness I’ve encountered elsewhere (mentioning no names, mages), but now I’d prefer to hurry through conversations, find out what it is that people want of me, get it done and skedaddle. I’ve had enough surly chit-chat to last me a lifetime.

It’s worth noting that I’ve clocked up a ton of experience and loot from my time as the mages’ errand boy, and I think I’ve spent it wisely. I can finally hold my own in a fight against two chickens at once, for instance. My dedication to becoming the best sweet-talker in the land also means that I was able to convince a guy to part with an epic sword he’d hired me to find for him, and also I’m now travelling with Mendoza.

This half-faced bald psychopath was the leader of the ruthless Inquisition in times gone by, but these days he’s dead. Fortunately he’s also a ghost that is somehow capable of stabbing things, and I hold a magic crystal that forces him to help me even though he openly wishes to murder me. Sadly he lacks the comic value of dear old Bones, but he does kill things an awfully lot more quickly. He also gets very cross whenever I’m nice to anyone, so it’s fortuitous that I’m now being brusque and impatient with people.

As a result of all this, I slaughter my way across Calador without meeting any great resistance. Villagers are rescued, Shadow Lords are felled, magic amulets are returned to restless spirits, goblins are booted into lava. And yes, I am made a Demon Hunter Cadet.

I was prepared for the black leather, but I didn’t realise that I’d have my head forcibly shaved:

Oh dear, I look like a thug. Or a boyband member. It’s hard to tell the difference these days. Also, you can see veins on my head. Ewwww.

Still, a new haircut is at least in the same ballpark as a new hat, so I’ll put this one in the win column. Better still, I’m taught how to teleport instead of haphazardly somersaulting like a boozy clown. Better still, I can summon a demon dog, heal my entire gang and thrown stone fists at my enemies. Not quite all-powerful, but certainly semi-powerful. The game has changed.

Adventures from hereon in – of which there are many, and perhaps one day I shall tell them to you – prove to be significantly less challenging. I recruit many allies. I defeat many enemies. I save many people. I find many lost treasures. Y’know, save the world. All that jazz.

I never did find a hat I liked, though.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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