Risen 2: Dark Waters Review

23 Apr 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Deep Silver
Developer:Piranha Bytes
Release Date:2012-04-24
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Voodoo

The attribute that suffers most from under-utilization is Voodoo, which has a ton of interesting uses that are consistently underutilized. Voodoo mind control in particular is a lot of fun to use, but you can only use it as determined by the developers, as only when they offer you the option to get a lock of hair or something similar from the character can you finish a voodoo doll. This is completely understandable, as for every voodoo-controlled character they have to write and voice unique dialog not just for the character, but for the people you talk to while controlling him, as you can run around pretty freely (albeit within a limited part of the map) as the mind-controlled character. But understandable though it may be, it feels pretty underwhelming for a player.

As a combat option, I never saw much use in Voodoo. You gain the ability to create scepters with different effects, such as inducing fear or aggression, but I found the mechanic of using it and then switching back to my sword so awkward that I ended up just using my sword for my entire voodoo run. You can use the scepter as a close combat weapon, but their stats are terrible and even an inexpert swordfighter is much better off with a blade. Scepters are useful to stun enemies or turn them against one another, it's just not particularly fun or engaging an option.

The ghost summoning skill is much more useful for combat, as it basically gives you an extra companion, and one that is actually available when the others are not. The ghost will fight alongside you as companions do, and can be re-summoned if he's "killed". But once again, there is an amount of under-utilization here, as I only found one ghost I could summon, where you would think this spell could also be of use in solving certain quests, or even opening new ones where you dig up a dead man's treasure, or offering extra ghost companion options. In general, while I did not get to finish the game using voodoo, the impact of voodoo felt a little underwhelming.

Guns

Unlocking muskets and shotguns early in the game has pretty much the opposite effect, but it's debatable whether that's a good thing. Unlike voodoo, none of the gun-related skills have much of an impact on quests, other than 'nuff said which sometimes allows you to bypass fights.

But muskets and shotguns both are very powerful, to the point where you don't even have to think about certain fights in the game, especially since you can travel with Venturo, a very powerful companion. The mechanic is pretty simple: there is no precision aiming involved, instead you hold the right mouse button to "aim", which means a very large (almost screen-covering) circle is shown, and an enemy within that circle is highlighted. You shoot, and your skill (and the distance) determines whether you land a hit. It can be a little fiddly to get the game to aim at the right enemy in combat with multiple enemies, but it functions fairly well and is pretty simple.

In fact, it functions so well as to be pretty boring. There is no reloading, the guns all function by cooldown timers. So you can shoot, then run around a bit avoiding enemies, or hit them with the butt of your gun or skewer them on your bayonet, then shoot again when the cooldown timer has ended. The final fight of the game consisted of me running around in a wide circle and occasionally turning around to unload both barrels of my musket on the end boss, and it lasted all of 3 minutes that way.

Guns don't make you invulnerable, and several enemies do move too fast to keep avoiding, but as long as you can keep them out of your face you can kill pretty much any enemy in the game with an almost mind-numbing ease. When they do get up in your face, just swing your gun around to create some distance. It never felt gratingly tedious to me, especially as combat is usually over quickly, but as combat mechanics go, it's certainly not very involved.
 
 

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