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Risen 5-Years Later Review



Like many other five-year-old games, Risen is showing its age and some places look much worse than others. Multiple animations are not very smooth, such as shoveling, as your character will apparently pull the shovel out of your chest with just the motion of your elbow, and put it back the same way. Some textures also look to be stretched, but not all, which is curious to notice. There are places, such as in caves, where one rock looks fine, but the one next to it has an obviously stretched texture. I also noticed a few spots where the mesh the texture was being applied too looked to be broken. You will understand what I mean if you look at the screenshot.

Moving past those blemishes we do find a rather populated and visually enjoyable world. There are no flat and empty regions in the game, with every area having some kind of decoration, such as grass, bushes, or trees. Of course, despite the size of the map, there are not that many wide open areas to find. Buildings, swamps, ruins, caves, hills, enemy camps, etc., keep the scenery from being boring, and a lot of it can also be visible from quite a distance, unless there is a fog in the air to obscure it.

The larger environmental effects, like fog and the light of the noonday sun, do look very nice and completely appropriate for what they are. Fog is not just something that hides the distance; it is something that sets a damp and/or dreary atmosphere. Some smaller effects, especially waterfalls, do not look so good, sadly. The spray looks plainly animated, as does the moving water as it falls over a cliff face.






Character models are not often impressive. Your character will look pretty good, especially as you get better armors, but NPCs will tend to look like each other quickly, with only certain features making any of them stand out, such as hair color. The models may not have very high vertex counts, but honestly, this never really stood out to me. Sometimes the sharp edges in the environment would, but rarely for characters. You will find instances of clipping for the character models though, especially with how some of the gear you can equip is actually placed on your body.

Water in the game is actually really pretty to look at when the weather is nice; you can see the ripples breaking the reflection of the sun, but when it is raining, the water becomes appropriately murky. Even though it is a virtual character I exist as here, I would still not want to be walking through it. When you do walk through it, there are effects, just pretty simple ones. It may not be impressive, but at least they are there.

Fire is a little mixed, but with a somewhat positive flavor to it. Fire is pre-rendered and with torches you can actually get it to practically detach from the fuel, so to that end, it is not very good. The positive flavoring comes from it actually being decent looking flames. Not in detail, but in how it obscures whatever is behind it, and some of the structures within it. This gives it a somewhat healthy appearance, if you will, instead of being just some bright mass, blocking vision, or a red and yellow colored fog or wisps, like is the case is some other games.


Time to talk about performance, so here are my specs:

  • Processor: AMD A10-5800K @ 4.40 GHz (44.0x100)
  • Cooling: Corsair H110
  • Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
  • GPU: EVGA GTX 770 2 GB
  • PhysX: EVGA GTX 570 1280 MB
  • Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 4x8 GB (32 GB total) at 1866 MHz 10-10-10-27
  • PSU: OCZ Fata1ty 750 W
  • OS: Windows 7- Professional 64-bit

I was able to run Risen with everything but depth of field (personal choice, as always) turned on and up to maximum without significant issue. The insignificant issue was occasional screen tearing. It was set to 60 FPS, but apparently there is a noticeable variance to that. Fortunately the tearing was not that severe and really only occurred when turning the camera quickly, but even then, not always.

There were some bugs I experienced, and they were largely amusing or innocuous. At one point an enemy spontaneously vanished, which is not something I am going to complain about. The time I attacked an enemy and somehow got teleported to the top of the skybox, unable to move, was more irritating. I did have a nice view of the island from that height though, which is actually impressive. You would think a lot would not be rendered at that distance, but quite a bit was. The last bug I encountered was definitely odd. For some reason, every time I loaded a save made during the final boss fight, I had no body. It was not the hero that beat the boss, but a possessed hammer, shield, crossbow, and helmet. The boss did not care, so neither did I. (What screenshots I took of these issues will be on the Additional Media page.)


Altogether the graphics are not that great and do not stand up all that well either, but there is little to take significant issue with concerning the substance of graphics. Really there is a fair amount to be impressed with, with the long draw distance and just how populated the world can be with objects.

  1. Risen Review - Introduction
  2. Risen Review - Graphics
  3. Risen Review - Story
  4. Risen Review - Gameplay
  5. Risen Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Risen Review - Conclusion
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