By Yap Hui Bin, a freelance writer
|» Price: $56.90
» Genre: Role-playing
» Platform: PC
» Rating: 8/10
WHAT goes around, comes around - that is one of life's lesson I learnt through this game.
One of the rare role-playing games (RPG) which is open-ended and non-linear, Risen offers many ways to complete missions.
You play a nameless male protagonist shipwrecked on a volcanic island, on which mysterious ruins full of treasure and monsters have recently sprung from the ground.
Peace was broken by the Inquisition who invaded the island in an attempt to put things right, simultaneously expelling the rulers of Harbour Town who now live as bandits and assuming control over the magic users of Volcano Keep town.
With two key factions fighting for control, the tasks you choose and your actions towards others will affect your standing with either faction which, in turn, limits the tasks available to you.
Unlike most RPGs, you do not get to create a character but begin with no skills or equipment and decide how you want to develop along the way.
As you perform a multitude of tasks for the island's troubled citizens and fight monsters, you gain experience points and gold.
You can then train with various masters - such as those who can impart skills that improve your mastery of weapons and combat, boost your career as a thief, hunter or blacksmith or endow you with magical abilities like creating spells and brewing potions.
Risen's open-ended nature offers alternatives for completing quests. For example, if you try to steal keys from a guard and are caught, he will attack you. You can choose to cast a spell to smooth things over or just knock him out and help yourself to his possessions.
With so many people to meet, plenty of dialogue to plough through, loads of tasks to perform and a huge landscape to explore, Risen plays at a slow pace.
Although monsters are plentiful, combat is limited to only turn and click combos, so those seeking fast-paced action may find Risen lacking.
Graphics are vivid with weather scenes - from bright, sunny days to dark, velvety night skies to ominous storm clouds - looking very realistic.
Audio is spectacular, with atmospheric and immersive music.
By giving gamers the responsibility for self development, Risen adds maturity to the game.
However, its mature themes - crude language and hints of sex and drugs - mean that younger gamers should stay away.
Gamers seeking fast-paced action should also look elsewhere because, like good wine, Risen is a rare and enjoyable adventure worth taking the time to savour.
This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.
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