You play as the unnamed hero. He has a voice, background, and personality, but no name. Whatever his name is, you will be able to control him not only in combat and movement, but how he responds and acts to NPCs and quest givers. This is very much a role playing game, and there is no hand holding in Risen 2. You will have to listen to conversations and watch other characters carefully to understand what to do next.
So, our unnamed hero works for the inquisition. He is sent by them on a mission to obtain a special weapon, but he must do this without letting anyone know who he really is, so he must go undercover as a pirate. This is where the player gets to chose what person or faction to work with. The freedom of choice plays a big part in Risen 2. You can choose to help someone, hinder them or just ignore them. Depending on your actions, the outcomes may change.
Freedom of choice doesn’t just come into play with questing and talking with NPCs, it also factors into the game play. You may find a situation where you have many options to complete a task. Depending on your skills, and what you wish to do, the scenario may play out differently. For instance, a man is being held prisoner. He teaches you rogue abilities such as lock picking, pick pocketing and sneaking. He wants you to break him out of prison. You can find a lock pick and pick the lock if you have the skill, pick pocket the guard and take the key, or just let him rot in the cell. These situations really let the player make the game their own experience.
Level progression and customization of your character is done though experience points gained by killing enemies, exploring locations, and completing quests. When leveling up, you can place points into attributes such as sword skill, gun skills, toughness, voodoo, and cunning. In these attributes, you can then learn certain tiers of abilities depending on what you level up. All abilities are learned from teachers that will impart new moves for a price.
The combat is a blend of sword and gunplay, mixed with voodoo magic. The game features a simple combo system where, depending on the skills you have learned, you can attack with sword, gun, dirty tricks like throwing sand or kicks to the groin, and magic spells. Most of these abilities will be locked until you level up and learn them from trainers. Moves do not come cheap, either. Many will cost you a hefty amount of gold, and currency is a very rare thing to come by in some instances.
You can equip your character with new weapons and equipment for better stats, much like any other RPG. There is a lot to find and a lot to purchase in the game. I would go as far as to call it a loot whore game, but there is a good amount to be had.
The game can be rather difficult. You will have to take your time and think things through in order to win a fight. I played the preview on normal, and died multiple times. The checkpoint system is handled rather nicely, and of course, you can save whenever you like. So make sure to do so often.
The visual style is very nice. I really like the pirate theme, and the overall feel of the game. The pirates have some very choice words that would make my mother blush, but that’s what you would expect a scurvy scoundrel to say. The dialog is charming at times, and the voice acting is well done for the most part. It’s actually pretty entertaining.
This is just a small taste of what Risen 2: Dark Waters has to offer. The build I played was only about a quarter of the game. I have to say, even with the difficulty and the lack of hand holding, the game was pretty fun. I’m excited to see how the full game turns out. For the hardcore RPG players out there, this is one to look out for. Luckily, you won’t have to wait too long. The game is scheduled for release in late April.