Games like Risen show themselves to be different to the run of the mill western RPGs that seem to clog the market. Often compared to the Gothic series of games, Risen has been praised for its more user-friendly experience.
The player begins the game as a stowaway on a small ship. Off the coast of the island of Faranga, the ship is sunk by a Titan and the player washes up on its shores. The Titans are ancient beings who once warred against the gods before being sealed away. Humanity used magic to drive away the gods but have inadvertently released the Titans who are wreaking havoc across the land. Faranga is mysteriously spared. The Warriors of the Order are now on the island under the charge of High Inquisitor Mendoza exploring the ruins and collecting artifacts.
Faranga itself is inspired by Sicily with mountainous terrain and Mediterranean style vegetation. The names and architectural style take inspiration from the Normans and Spain. The island is populated with two towns, small settlements, numerous ancient temple ruins, as well as an underground network of connected tunnels, catacombs, and dungeons.
The game offers over sixty hours of gameplay in an immersive open world. Players can choose to follow the way of the sword, staff fighting, or improve their skills as a mage. The game does not forbid beginner players to most of the island. It can be freely explored from the start though some areas in the hinterland are better avoided until the player has leveled up.
As well as the standard RPG exploration and dungeon crawling, Risen has different factions for the player to join. They can choose to become a Bandit, a Warrior of the Order, or a Mage. Each choice will affect the player’s character but have little effect on the main storyline.