Review – Risen 2: Dark Waters

Risen 2: Dark Waters has finally set sail across the vast seas of the console world. Is it truly sea worthy or should it have been left in port?

Read on to find out matey!


Risen 2: Dark Waters is set a couple years after the first game in the series. The current world has been devastated by monstrous creatures called Titans, and other creatures rising up from the depths of the ocean. Sailors and Pirates trying to sail the high seas have seen their ships destroyed by these creatures, and it is up to our Nameless Hero to stop the madness and finish off the one behind all of these events. Rumors have spread that the creature he is after is named Mara, and there are pirates on the Southern Islands that know how to defeat her.

The journey begins with our hero being booted out of the Inquisition in order to go undercover as a pirate with the great pirate captain Steelbeard. It’s a journey that shouldn’t be traveled alone, and as he progresses through it, others will join him. Early on in your journey you’ll have to make a huge decision that will alter your future and send you down differing paths. Choose wisely.

Our Hero

The story for Risen 2 is well written, but can be hard to follow if you get sidetracked easily. As a third person RPG, the game gives you plenty to do aside from the main story quest. Luckily the menu system allows you to go back and read all of the dialogue that pertains to the story, as well as all quests, whether they are completed or not. Once you find a map of each island, and then each location on an island, traveling becomes quick as you can then jump from point to point by using the map feature. Highlighting a specific quest can also place an X on the map telling you where you need to go, as well as the location of the quest giver.

The characters for a great RPG have to be compelling and likeable (or unlikeable for villains) and Risen 2 does a good job creating a variety of folks to keep you entertained. Our hero is clearly the center of the story, but without his supporting cast, he could never carry the game. He is not without his own humor or personality though. For example, he can’t seem to accept the fact that voodoo dolls are really dolls and not action figures.

His first cohort starts to add depth to the story, as well as help in battle. Later in the game he becomes master to a rather salty speaking gnome by the name of Jaffar. He is a kleptomaniac beyond compare. Good thing for us since he’ll give us everything he’s collected just by asking for it. His conversations are always Rated R and reminds us of emails we get from time to time from one certain PR rep. Definitely not a bad thing for those of us over 18, as the discussions, as well as those emails, are always entertaining. You’ll add others to your journey as you progress, and each have their own back story.


Side quests can be found just about everywhere and range from messages in a bottle to hunting buried treasure. Having a shovel in your inventory is a must for any great pirate, so be sure to purchase one the first chance you get. The islands are also littered with caves, so be sure to grab a pick-axe at your earliest convenience. Mining for gold is a great way to earn some free loot. Side quests can be found by talking to NPCs everywhere, so don’t be a shy pirate. Even wenches need someone to talk to at times.

Gold is the currency of choice in this pirate world, and just about everything has value. Keep a keen eye out for items lying around that have text pop up above them. These things can either be sold for gold, or possibly help heal you if they are organic. Kleptomaniacs will have a field day as most things can be picked up when visiting residences of non-playable characters.


Your character is distinguished by certain talents and skills that can be learned or improved on as the game progresses. In Risen 2 there are attributes, talents and skills. Attributes are the general term for your character‘s underlying traits, such as how well you handle certain types of weapons like blades or firearms, how much damage you can absorb (Toughness), your cunning, and how good you are at voodoo. Each attribute is divided into three talents with their own emphasis, allowing you to focus as you please, like specializing in slashing weapons instead of throwing weapons for your blade weapons talent, or preferring to rely on your Silver Tongue rather than Dirty Tricks for cunning.

You’ll come across chests filled with loot. Most are ready for the taking, but eventually you’ll come across some that are locked.  Lock picking isn’t a skill that comes naturally, so you’ll have to find someone that will teach you, for a price, and you’ll have to have your Cunning attribute at a certain level. You’ll have to pay for other skills like forging and gunsmithing, but all are well worth the price.

Easy Big Fella

Game play will have you walking, running, and sneaking around the different islands. Mysteriously though, our pirate never swims. Any water deeper than chest high will have you respawning to where you entered the water. While out in the wilds you’ll come across a variety of creatures and animals that will want to destroy you. From claw monkeys to cave bats, how hard they are to kill depends on what difficulty you set the game at. On Easy, there is no challenge of course, but trying to kill a six foot tall spider on Hard is no simple task. We stayed on Medium the entire time, and found that just about right for us.

Side quests will have you meeting certain criteria. This can range from simple “go and get me this” tasks to other  quests that you won’t be able to complete until you reach another island later in the game. RPG Completionists will love the overall quantity and variety of most quests. A few will seem repetitive as you near the end of the game, but these are few and far between.

That’s My Boat

The graphics for the game are pretty good for a multiplatform title. We’ve played the game on the PC, Xbox 360, and the PS3. Of course the PC ruled the roost, but the Xbox and PS3 held their own. It’s a great looking game across the board, with decent level design in an open world environment. The time of day is constantly changing, with shadows changing length appropriately. You can find a bed and take a nap to change the time of day manually, and a few quests will require different time frames. The environments and creatures are all well detailed. Water will rise and fall with the tides and waves, and this can even be seen inland a bit.

A great pirate role playing game has been needed for a long time, and Piranha Bytes did a great job with Risen 2: Dark Waters. The game isn’t without its flaws, but RPG fans will love the variety and length of the overall story. Keep in mind that side quests are where the fun can be hiding.

This is a game that can be rushed through quickly, but we found that it is best to stop and drink the rum from time to time. You’ll be glad you did.