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Risen 2: Dark Waters

Moby ID: 56681
Windows Specs
Buy on Windows
$2.49 new on Steam

Description official description

The town of Caldera is in deep trouble. The Fortress of Crystal, the last haven of the Inquisition and the Old Empire, harbors a mysterious cave that may protect it from the assault of the Titans. Luckily, two of the Titans began fighting each other, which gives the Inquisition time to coordinate their activities on the land. However, a sea monster known as Kraken attacks and destroys their ships at sea. Pirates roaming about prevent supplies from being delivered to the fortress. In this troublesome time, the hero is sent on a quest to find a legendary treasure and perhaps figure out a way to destroy the Titans.

Risen 2: Dark Waters is an action role-playing game and a direct sequel to Risen. It features the same main character, now a member of the Inquisition. The game's action takes place several years after the events in the first game, in a pirate-themed, Caribbean-style world. The gameplay follows more or less the same recipe as all other Piranha Bytes RPGs since Gothic, placing emphasis on gradual world exploration, action-oriented combat, and questing.

The game allows the player to explore a world that's split into several large islands, each loaded separately during gameplay. Not all islands are accessible from the beginning, but as the story unfolds, all of them can be explored by the player. Each island contains wilderness areas and settlements where the protagonist can receive story-advancing as well as secondary quests. Unlike its predecessors, there is little in the way of faction joining in Risen 2; there is a line between different factions, but the difference between them is not as critical as it was before. However, the player still has a considerable degree of freedom in accepting or declining quests, some of which may have different outcomes or contradict each other.

New to Piranha Bytes-style RPG design is the introduction of verbal skills such as Silver Tongue and Intimidation, which open up unique responses during conversations if the player has trained the corresponding skill. Experience points are manually allocated by the player to advance the protagonist's main attributes; talents and abilities tied to these attributes must be, however, unlocked by paying characters who can train the hero in them. The magic system has undergone a severe overhaul: the emphasis is now set on voodoo magic which deals with mind-controlling spells and curses. Close-quarters combat is now complemented by firearms: pistols, muskets, etc. The protagonist can equip swords and guns at the same time; however, guns require time to cool off after each shot, which can be reduced by raising the appropriate skill. Sometimes AI-controlled characters would join the hero and help him out in combat.

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Credits (Windows version)

342 People (340 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

Managing Director
Project Management, Game Design & Story
Asset Outsourcing Manager
Lead Programmer
Game Design & Story
Technical Artist
Senior Environment Artist
Environment Art
Outsourcing Technical Artist
Concept Artworks
Music & Sound Coordination
[ full credits ]



Average score: 69% (based on 68 ratings)


Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 26 ratings with 1 reviews)

The best pirate game since Sid Meier's Pirates.

The Good
Leave it to Piranha Bytes to serve up a wholesome, open-world pirate-themed roleplaying game, the best in a long while -- one which, in practice, feels like a cross between Risen and Monkey Island 2. That's obviously a first, and it's great that they once again came up with something original. A contrasting, more pragmatic definition could be that it's a quintessential Caribbean adventure force-fed into the Risen setting for franchising purposes.

Risen 2 came on the heels of the global success of Skyrim, which means that its timing was perfect. I'm not sure it was a conscious choice from Piranha Bytes though, who always struck me as a defiantly independent mind in the face of the ebbs and flows of a rather tyrannical games industry, focusing on one thing only: releasing deep, engrossing open-world games, one after the other, for the hardcore player. Let's see if they succeeded a fifth time:

An immersive atmosphere. Piranha Bytes' forte, their enduring talent was always the evocation of a strong, distinctive mood, and Risen 2 is a roaring triumph in this respect. I don't even know how they do it, but every little place oozes a steamy, in-your-face, I'm-being-there tropical feel, complete with realistic weather effects and day-night cycling. What I always loved about their games is how they manage to infuse a gritty, naturalistic atmosphere with that of an enchanting fairy tale. As a result, Risen 2 feels like both how 17th century Caribbean drudgery must have felt like (cutthroats, schemes, sickness, danger and death on every corner), and how it lives on in our postmodern public consciousness: an idyllic, enchanted archipelago with its archetypal buccaneers, treasure chests and damsels in distress.

An advanced engine. In fact, this is the most advanced graphics engine I've experienced yet. There's just something about it that eases the player into immersion from the word go. It must be the combination of its being optimized for mostly unrestricted free-roaming, a super-far viewing distance, and a pitch perfect rendition of geographical reliefs, bodies of water and vegetation. With some config file tweaking (as in Risen 1), viewing distance and the lushness of vegetation can be further advanced to a jaw-dropping extent.

Freedom of exploration. This is what separates the men from the boys, so to speak, or the dedicated and generous world designers from the lazy, formula-following ones. Creating an open world clearly involves much more work and dedication. To me, there was always something special about open-world games, right back to 1987's original Pirates, or even 1984's Seven Cities of Gold. I feel that open-world RPG's transcend their genre and approximate to a real-world experience in a way no other entertainment product is capable of. Modern 3D open-world games are almost scary in this respect. At their very best, they are realistic adventure trips for $30 or less. And Risen 2 is among the very best.

A streamlined crafting system. Piranha Bytes' games always required a high degree of micromanagement (of wearable gadgets, potion ingredients, blacksmithing parts and so on) which is the salt and pepper of open-world roleplaying games. Here they also introduce a 'pistol/musket' and a 'voodoo' system -- in concert with the 17th century Caribbean setting -- and get the corresponding micromanagement down to an art form. They became such experts in implementing this complex under-the-hood stuff that it feels seamlessly organic, a natural part of the game's fabric, unlike in several other games.

The Bad
This is Piranha Bytes' first "semi-open" roleplaying game. I admit it was a minor shock when I first realized that completed areas get locked down -- at least for a while -- once we leave them. Gothic 1-2-3's main claim to fame was that they provided a single huge sandbox of a game area where every nook and cranny was physically accessible. Instead of a huge sandbox, they opt for multiple smaller sandboxes here: an interesting, fresh approach that does sacrifice some of the old magic of the Gothic entries and Risen 1.

The studio's main weakness continues to be the somewhat banal characters, along with their cheesy names and especially their short, sketchy dialogs that get to the point too fast without any flourish or flair. Granted, there are a zillion sidequests, and the writers might feel that longer, better dialogs would overwhelm and distract the player, given this overabundance. But I think that being distracted and overwhelmed would be a good thing in this case. Hey, Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas got away with it. In fact, they are regarded the pinnacle of modern roleplaying games.

Speaking of Skyrim, there is definitely much less than 100+ hours worth of material in here. Continuing with their new habit started with Risen 1, the game clocks in at around 40 hours, which disqualifies Risen 2 as a potential contender with the biggest boys of the genre.

The Bottom Line
In a day and age when ambitious open-world roleplaying games come in scarcity, Risen 2 is an unlikely gift to the unhurried connoisseur. It is among the most atmospheric and evocative games ever produced, and it more or less does to a quasi-Caribbean setting what Skyrim did to a quasi-Scandinavian setting. In a perfect world, where a couple of sophisticated open-world RPG's would be released every year, we wouldn't normally ooh and aah at Risen 2 given its shortcomings. Alas, the world is imperfect, and Piranha Bytes are one of the last lions, so every one of their roars should be cherished and savoured.

Windows · by András Gregorik (59) · 2014



  • Deutscher Entwicklerpreis 2012
    • Best Role-Playing Game
  • GameStar (Germany) / GamePro (Germany)
    • 2012 - #4 Best Role-Playing Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
  • PC Games (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2013 – #3 Role-Playing Game of the Year 2012 (Readers' Vote)



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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Hypercake.

Additional contributors: Jeanne, jaXen, Patrick Bregger.

Game added June 29th, 2012. Last modified January 19th, 2024.