By Adele Chapline Smith | OSV News
(OSV News) — Originally released in 2009, the action role-playing game “Risen” (THQ Nordic) is making a comeback for its debut on the Nintendo Switch. Sometimes gory depictions of warfare, sexual themes and vulgar dialogue, however, mean this relaunched title can only be considered acceptable for grown-ups.
The compelling plot follows the adventures of a player-controlled nameless hero (voice of Gus Gallagher). After the vessel on which this protagonist had, for unknown reasons, stowed away is shipwrecked, he washes ashore on an island called Faranga.
He quickly masters the lay of the land and must then choose whether to join one of the local factions into which the inhabitants of Faranga are divided: Bandits, Warriors of the Order and Mages. Membership in one of these groups will determine the player’s abilities going forward.
Among the characters with whom gamers interact are the Warriors’ leader, High Inquisitor Mendoza (voice of Andy Serkis), who’s engaged in a struggle with a powerful race of Titans, Bandits chief Don Esteban (voice of John Rhys-Davies) and Patty (voice of Lena Headey), the daughter of an infamous pirate.
Gameplay focuses strongly on combat and players have access to a wide array of options including parries, blocks and dodges as well as a mixture of melee and range weapons. Additionally, by choosing to become a Mage, gamers can unlock magic spells.
As far as sexual content is concerned, there are optional occasions for players to mingle with prostitutes, though if they avail themselves of the immoral opportunities these encounters make possible, the screen fades to black. The fact that gamers can also smoke a fictional drug called “brugleweed” — an obvious stand-in for marijuana — reinforces the mature nature of the material overall.
On the upside, “Risen” emphasizes the significance of moral decision making. Thus the player can be responsible for Faranga’s ultimate salvation or its complete destruction. This choice-based game mechanic not only leads to an incredibly immersive experience, it also encourages players to think about their ethical behavior and its consequences.
Given the vintage of this first installment in a trilogy — it was followed by “Risen 2: Dark Waters” in 2012 and by 2014’s “Risen 3: Titan Lords” — gamers should not expect its graphics to live up to the quality of those found in more recent offerings. Still, the visuals are solid and the environment excellent. A visit to Faranga can, accordingly, turn out to be an enjoyable journey for grown gaming fans.
Playable on Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
The game contains war violence with bloody images, occult material, sexual situations, narcotics use, frequent rough talk and occasional crude language. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — Mature.
Adele Chapline Smith reviews videogames for OSV News.