Risen 2: Treasure Isle Review

21 May 2012

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Deep Silver
Developer:Piranha Bytes
Release Date:2012-04-27
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
Available for free to anyone who pre-ordered Risen 2: Dark Waters, and for $10/€10 to everyone else, "Treasure Isle" is the first story-based DLC for Piranha Bytes' pirate-themed open-world action-RPG. Following a rather interesting plotline that started in the first title and promising a whole new isle plus a series of quests leading to it, a new legendary item, and even a new (temporary) crew mate, "Treasure Isle" would appear like an extremely solid offering for the price, but unfortunately further investigation reveals what feels more like a minor addition, one that I wouldn't be surprised to find was cut from the full title.

It's a real pity too because, while lacking in content, "Treasure Isle" is certainly not lacking in quality, and in many ways what it offers is on par with some of the best questlines in Risen 2 and Piranha Bytes' previous games.

Treasure Hunting

True to its title, "Treasure Isle" features search for the island where Captain Steelbeard, father of Patty and captain of your crew at the beginning of the game, stored his treasure. Not content to simply hide his treasure on it, the crafty and extremely stereotypical pirate decided to also protect his treasure with traps, write clues to avoid them on his diary, and give the pages away to various people. If it sounds like a questline in the making to you, that's because it obviously is, but in the extremely pirate-focused setting of the title the goofy setup works, and provides some rather interesting challenges.

In some way mirroring the structure of the whole game, the questline that leads to the actual Treasure Isle spans several of the islands you can visit, and offers rather different, if not particular complex, situations for every missing diary page (there are four in total): all the basic elements of the game, like following treasure maps and digging chests, fighting and chatting, are present but not particularly developed. The notable exception is Harlok's storyline: while still not particularly complex, the quest slots up nicely with the environment, offers some skill usage, and has bigger and more interesting repercussions than the others.

Fine, I guess, the search for the Treasure Isle is just a lead-up quest right? Surely the actual Treasure Isle will provide the meat on these bones, a satisfying play area with plenty of side content? Not quite.

A Problem of Size

Unfortunately, it turns out that the actual Treasure Isle is by far the most disappointing part of the DLC. While the quests leading up to it were entertaining and cleverly integrated with the main title in a way that felt seamless, the new area is almost insultingly small, and offers very few chances to explore out of the path the questline sets for you. Sure, following Steelbeard's clues and solving the puzzles makes for an entertaining if straightforward endeavor, but only takes about 40 minutes to complete. Good for a quest, bad for a DLC.

Furthermore, the amount of unique content in the island is pretty disappointing too: old assets are reused for pretty much everything, old enemies are recycled too, and while that's understandable for critters such as alligators and gorillas, I honestly had a few doubts on the developers' inclusion of Sunken Ones as mooks on the isle without providing a plot explanation for it. I suppose it's possible I just missed it, and it's hardly a gamebreaking fault by itself, but it's one of many little things that also reflect badly on the DLC as a whole.

Steelbeard is the man who found the island, wrote the clues and hid the treasure there, yet he never comments while being there. The translators obviously completely missed the final riddle, as it doesn't make any sense in English, turning a clever wordplay into an exercise in frustrating trial and error.

And again, if "Treasure Isle" was just a bit meatier I might have forgiven those problems. But it isn't.

Conclusion

It's very difficult for me to endorse "Treasure Isle", and it's not something I say lightly since I'm a supporter of Piranha Bytes' design and I can't say I had a bad time with it. To the contrary, taken as a simple questline in the full title, "Treasure Isle" would deserve nothing but praise for its simple but entertaining pirate-y tale. As downloadable content though, "Treasure Isle" feels unsubstantial and lacking, which, coupled with its seamless integration with the released title and day 1 release, fuels suspicion that this is just cut content sold for a hefty price.

As it is right now, only people who are starving for some more Risen 2 content or die-hard fans of the original that want to see the Steelbeard's plot to its conclusion should consider buying the DLC.