Risen 2: Dark Waters Review


Become the pirate you always wanted to be in this RPG.

I have always wanted to be a pirate; have my own ship and sail the seven seas, gathering treasure and booty while getting drunk out of my mind on rum. My dreams have come true after playing Risen 2: Dark Waters. So, grab your cutlass and your pirate hat. We’re going to go on a pirate RPG adventure.

The game takes place a few years after the first Risen game. You play, once again, as the unnamed hero. He has joined up with the Inquisition and became a good friend to the rum in order to drown out the memories of his past. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have time for that, because an evil being known as Mara has been summoned by four pirate captains and is now hell-bent on destroying the world. By order of the Inquisition, our hero is now tasked with gathering a ship and a crew, finding the captains and locating the magical weapons that can slay the beast Mara.

The game is an action role playing game full of different stats and abilities, both passive and active. You will not only learn the way of the pirate, but also the ways of Voodoo. Voodoo serves as magic in Risen 2, but not how you might think. Instead of fire balls and lighting bolts, you will be taking control of enemies using voodoo dolls and stunning enemies with a swift kick to the groin.

The RPG elements of the game come in the form of both character interactions and stat tracking in combat and other skill sets. Every quest you complete, and every enemy you kill, will give you glory points. Instead of taking on a specific classes, you use these points to increase your skill sets. There are six in all: Blades, Firearms, Toughness, Cunning, and Voodoo. These will determine how well you will do in combat, thievery and magic. When investing in a skill set, three specialties in that group will increase slightly. You then will have to go to a trainer to learn new abilities. That costs precious gold. Gold isn’t something you just stumble upon, so knowing what skill set you wish to go with is a big part of the game. If you want to go for lock picking and a sliver tongue, add some points to Cunning. If you’re all about shooting up some fools, go with Firearms.

The combat is the one downside to Risen 2. It feels sluggish at times and highly exploitable by both the player and your enemies. Sometimes you get surrounded and will basically be killed in a matter of seconds. Other times, enemies circle around you doing basically nothing while you chop them to death with your cutlass. This game will not hold your hand at all, which is why every time I died, the game would say “Save Often” while loading up my last saved game. Some of the skills are hit and miss. Sure, the Voodoo has some nice tricks here and there, but I found myself putting more points into Cunning and Firearms. I liked being tricky and stealing from people, and I could pick off enemies from a distance or pop off a shot from my pistol while sword fighting.

The game offers up full customization both in skills and equipment. You can find or purchase better weapons and armor to put on your hero. I loved decking my character out in full pirate captain apparel. Not only does it offer up protection, but wardrobe can even boost other stats such as thievery and intimidation.

The game is not all about sword play and killing landlubbers. You will be doing a good amount of talking as well. This is where your sliver tongue and intimidation abilities come into play. You can try to smooth talk your way out of a situation if your skills are high enough, or with intimidation, if the conversation isn’t going your way, pull out your pistol and shoot the guy in the face.

I always hear a sea shanty when I see this screenshot.

The visuals are really nice. The overall look of the game and setting really made this game shine. It is an open world, but is divided between islands instead of one big area. There is potential to get lost, but after careful study of the map and the ability to fast travel to previously visited locations, you will be able to find your way in no time. The menus are very well done and streamlined. The quest tracker has saved me from wasting time wandering around trying to find objectives. Everything is done very intelligently.

The game’s areas may not seem too large, but when given all your quests and side quests, you can easily stay on a single island for around 4 to 5 hours. Plus, not every place is accessible when you first get there, so returning to older areas can offer up some good loot and experience. If you do everything in the game, you could easily sink a good 40 hours into it.

The narrative is one of charm and lasting appeal. I love the pirate setting and the skills that go along with it. Throwing sand in your enemy’s eyes right before firing a bullet at his head is always fun. The voice acting, while crude and vulgar more times than not, is still very charming and witty. Even running into the occasional annoying character, I still found the entire story to be very entertaining.

Sure the combat may be a little wonky, but that didn’t stop me from putting almost 30 hours into the game. The overall story and character progression is a blast, and everything is handled in a very streamlined, accessible way. I can’t help but suggest it to hardcore RPG players. If you can look past some of the more useless skills and sluggish combat, you’ll still have a great time while playing Risen 2.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Written by
Drew is the Community Manager here at ZTGD and his accent simply woos the ladies. His rage is only surpassed by the great one himself and no one should stand between him and his Twizzlers.


  1. God, at last a reviewer gives the other side of the coin.

    Yes the combat is weird, just go guns and shoot everything, don’t bother with swordfighting (its superfrustrating and hard). This game is about the story (its a simplistic story but somehow very fun to see it unfold while you play, just like risen 1) and about the brilliant exploration. Great voiceacting too, very nice, and the humor makes you smile on numerous occasions. The islands are 1 big instance, so no loading times and no waiting. This plays a huge role in the immersion, good draw distance, the world is so lush and alive, great attention for detail.

    One of the best since Risen if you like instanceless and a very immersive exploration experience.

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