The guys at Resolution Magazine are spotlighting their favorite video games of 2009, and today's entry just happens to be Piranha Bytes' Risen. It's good to see this one getting exposure from more than just RPG-specific websites:
What's impressive about this universe is the attention to detail involved with each and every aspect, from the distinct personalities of the individuals you meet, to the design of the many caves and tunnels forming dungeons throughout the island. It's a small place with an equally small population, but despite this you'll find more than 50 hours' worth of enjoyment bundled in with it; the phrase (good things come in small packages) has never felt so true. It's nothing short of impressive that a developer can pack so much into such a small area, making you wonder what they could do with a world on the scale of Oblivion or Fallout 3.
Comparisons with those games are inevitable, even though Risen's roots predate both. All share the same open-world RPG setup, but Risen doesn't have the same wide appeal the others have, and the audience in mind is different. Risen appeals to those looking for a harsher experience, and the uncompromising environment and mountains of dialogue make it an acquired taste, but it's one I'll be happy to take a bite of time and time again. For me, it is a remarkable RPG, touching on the personal criteria I have for the perfect role-playing experience. And although I certainly see why others weren't quite so taken, I hope that enough people try it and give it the opportunity to open their eyes to a new world.