Risen 2: Dark Waters Preview – Setting Sail...
Written Friday, October 28, 2011 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
We're quite upset that we missed 'talk like a pirate day' last month, but here's a game that could well give us another excuse to finish the end of every sentence with an “arrrr, matey” or a “shiver me timbers”, as Risen 2: Dark Waters takes its RPG wares into piratical territory, with all of the cliches you'd expect, and plenty that you wouldn't. Picking up with Risen's protagonist, this beta code we're shown of the sequel sees the 'unnamed hero' a broken man who's embittered at having been deprived of his due credit for saving the world. He's a washed-up drunkard, who's compared to John McClane in Die Hard With a Vengeance, left by the crew of his ship and marooned on a sandy coastline, much like in the previous game.
Like any good pirate, the unnamed hero sports an eyepatch and the usual buccaneer regalia, but it's the locals that talk in the colourful language, replete with expletives by the barrel-load, being delivered by the gnome contingency on the island. In Risen, the gnomes were a sideshow, but in Risen 2, they're fully fleshed-out characters with their own stories and a line in ludicrously sweary dialogue that would make Gordon Ramsay blush. Learning their unique broken patois from the resident pirates, the gnomes speak in a bizarre Jar-Jar Binks pitched brogue that varies from gnome to gnome. The first gnome encountered in the demo has a tenuous grasp on the English language, but the hero is still issued with the task of gathering resources for building a raft. “Jaffar one clever fucker,” he says, referring to himself in the third-person. Um, cheers Jaffar!
Following Jaffar, we have to track down ten wooden planks, five vines to bind it all together and six shirts to act as a sail. The portly gnome leads us towards a cave, using his natural thieving talents to loot and gather items for us, as we're attacked by giant termites in the jungle. The insects are easily smacked down with a sword, and once at the cave, we're able to obtain the things that Jaffar has scavenged for us, gaining +10 Glory points while we're at it. This concludes part one of our demo, with the second part taking us to a small settlement inhabited by gnomes (again), where there's a quest to try and decipher what one of the gnomes named Nuri wants in exchange for some parts for our raft. Having worked out the gibberish, it transpires that we have to part with a valuable black pearl (it's suitably 'dako' enough for his tastes, apparently) for a few shabby old shirts.
We then encounter Kaan, a well-spoken gnome who actually corrects our pronunciation and sentences, as he's well-travelled and a bit of a smart-arse. He wants us to kill a monster for him and he'll help us get off the island if we do, but that's where the second section of the demo wraps up, leading us to the penultimate part, further on into the game where the unnamed hero has acquired his own ship and is forming a burgeoning crew. It's dusk on the island, and we're stationed in a small village where the inhabitants go about their daily routines. Here you can visit the cooper to forge weapons from the ore you've mined and chat to the people for additional quests and incidental exposition.
It's in this village that we meet a prisoner named Hawkins, who when freed can join our motley crew. Taking a nap, time advances to nightfall, at which point it's time for a jailbreak. There's a number of ways to complete the objective of freeing Hawkins from his cell in a castle turret, from manning and firing a cannon to blow a hole in the wall, to simply lifting the keys from the prison guards. What follows is the latter option, which events in a swashbuckling sword fight with the local authority, demonstrating the range of combat options and dirty tricks at your disposal. As a pirate, throwing sand into your opponents eyes or sending a parrot flying at their face is all fair game, as is summoning your trained monkey to distract foes. You can also assume control of your monkey to get into narrow areas to find loot. Any game with a trained monkey is on to a winner in our book.
There's other options you could consult to complete this quest, and hammering rusty nails into the fuses of the village's cannons ensures they're deactivated as the unnamed hero frees Hawkins and makes good his escape. The Inquisition are the enemies that you'll face in Risen 2, but you'll have your crew to back you up in a fight, as the final part of our demo shows. It's a boss fight against an evil pirate named Crow, who wields a powerful, supernatural spear used to summon and control a towering, golem-like rock monster called a Titan. Marching in with our crew, we have to tackle Crow and his pirate minions, turning the tables by grabbing the spear and throwing into the Titan's open chest cavity. A few well-aimed projectiles into the opening and closing hole is the way to harm the boss – much easier said than done by the looks of it - and the Titan is eventually toppled.
Risen 2: Dark Water is shaping up to be a far more accomplished game than its predecessor and a far better console conversion to boot. There are some frame rate issues at present that Deep Silver assures us will be fixed and optimised in time for launch, but visually, it's a step in the right direction. That you're a pirate in a pirate's world is another enticing facet of Risen 2, and commanding your own crew and your own ship is promising. Your ship acts as your hub, enabling you to sail anywhere you like (you can't control it though, sadly) and the game world is apparently much larger than Risen's, but with the same level of detail and density. Risen 2: Dark Water is showing a decent amount of potential at this stage and it could be another worthy RPG like the first game. Let's just hope that it's not as flawed as its forebear and leaves us shouting “yo ho ho” instead of muttering “oh no...”
Risen 2: Dark Water is out in early 2012.