Risen 3: Titan Lords is the sequel to Piranha Bytes' fantasy role-playing game, Risen 2: Dark Waters. The game was released on August 12, 2014, and was again published by Deep Silver. The game's description, as provided by Piranha Bytes, is as follows.
- The world has been abandoned by its gods and is scarred from the rampage of the Titans. Humanity is struggling to regain strength and rally its forces. You, however, have more pressing concerns: your own life has been shattered and you must set off to reclaim what is lost amidst the darkness that is spreading throughout the world.
Abandoned by all the gods and suffering from the Titan Wars, the world is confronted by a new threat, rising from the soil. The player is placed in the role of a new "Nameless Hero," replacing the protagonist from the two previous games. The new player character was never seen nor mentioned prior to the third game, but is revealed to be the brother of recurring NPC Patty Steelbeard, and son of the deceased pirate Captain Gregorius Emanuel Steelbeard, as well as one of the few pirate captains left in the world.
The Son of Steelbeard is awoken from a fitful dream in which he fights the ghost of the pirate Captain Crow, who was killed in Risen 2: Dark Waters. He and Patty go ashore on the Crab Coast to seek a rumored treasure in an ancient native temple, but are distracted by a Skull Cave rising from the ruins and a number of shadowy creatures emerging from it. When they enter to investigate, they find a magic portal made of crystal, which spawns a demonic Shadow Lord, surprising them and knocking them to the ground. The Shadow Lord proceeds to consume the Hero's soul, apparently killing him, and leaving Patty and his crew to bury him.
Some time later, the witch doctor Bones comes ashore on the island and performs a ritual on the Hero's corpse, awakening him from death. Bones reveals that the Hero isn't quite alive, his soul trapped in the Underworld, and that his voodoo magic was only able to reanimate his corpse. The longer he is away from his soul, the more he will lose his mind and will eventually become a mindless minion of the Shadows. Bones tells the Hero that he himself had once lost his soul (part of a quest in Risen 2) and had it restored. Since the soul of the Son of Steelbeard is being held captive by the Shadows, recovering it will be significantly more complicated. He suggests that the pirate seek guidance from the most powerful sorcerers in the Southern Seas: the voodoo witch Chani (a companion in Risen 2); the high magician Zacharias on Taranis; and the druid Eldric (a recurring NPC from the first game), who is now on Calador where he leads an ancient order of Demon Hunters to fight the Shadows.
In the course of the game, Steelbeard's Son strikes back at the Shadows in his own way, such as helping others recover ground lost in the large-scale invasion. On the pirate settlement of Antigua, Admiral Alvarez beseeches him to travel to the most powerful communities in the Southern Seas to seek their support as allies against the Shadows. Among other threats, massive sea creatures and a fleet of demon ships led by the ghost Captain Crow wreak havoc on anyone traveling the high seas.
When the Son of Steelbeard reaches the rocky region of Calador, he finds Eldric the druid. Unfortunately the Demon Hunters there are unable to offer any kind of aid until they have resolved their own difficulties. He first destroys a Shadow Lord and its minions on the western side of the lava river dividing the region. This bolsters the confidence in many of the warriors, especially in cases where they had witnessed a major defeat previously. After crossing the lava river in Chapter 3, he proceeds to both acquire the nekroimortar and to remove the second Shadow Lord, freeing the Demon Hunters to help others beyond Calador.
He approaches Sebastiano on Tacarigua, but the commandant has begun issuing paranoid execution orders against both deserters and the Mages. Even after defeating the Shadow Lord on the island and helping restore order as much as possible there, aid is refused. On his expedition to the Skull Cave and the crystal portal within, Sebastiano claims he looked through the portal. This convinced him that not only Shadows, but magic itself was destroying the world.
A conflict between the commandant and Governor di Fuego rose when the governor canceled an execution order against Horas, a Guardian for the Mages. Sebastiano admits that the governor was "in [his] way", so he killed him. At this point, Steelbeard's Son realizes the portal (or possibly the Shadow Lord near it) drove him insane. When Patty's brother returns to speak with Sebastiano again, he learns the commandant is at sea with a fleet of ships to find an kill him. It is only later, when Sebastiano finally locates the Hero and is defeated, that the Inquisition fleet agrees to join the growing fleet.
When the Son of Steelbeard reaches Kila, he discovers two sources of conflict. First, a ship wrecked on the beach, and tensions have grown between the pirates from that ship and the Kila natives. After resolving that conflict, he discovers a great wall, built to separate the Sacred Valley from rest of the island. It is within this valley that Chani can be found. Baraka, a Kila tonka, refuses to let the Hero beyond the wall until he returns with "ancient knowledge" (the quest of this name on Calador, not any of the typical items of this name).
After receiving the ancient knowledge and returning, he finally passes beyond the wall and locates Chani. She is unable to help him until peace is restored between the Kila (whom she joined after being cast out from the Shaganumbi) and Morgoloth and her children. Once tensions have eased between the tribe and the spider queen, Chani agrees to help Steelbeard's Son, both in his personal quest to restore his soul and in telling Hirutu to offer assistance in the larger battles to come.
Captain Morgan took over Captain Slayne's ship after the latter's death, and he holds a fair amount of influence among a rogue faction of pirates. Rather than seeking him out, however, the Son of Steelbeard must wait for Morgan to find him on the Southern Seas and engage him in battle. The only way to obtain the respect of Morgan's fleet and add it to that of the unified fleet is to defeat him in battle.
The Son of Steelbeard also acquires several individuals to serve his crew and follow him, including the Guardian Horas, the Demon Hunter Edward, the native-turned-pirate marksman Saddec, the gnome thief Jaffar, and the ghost of the late Inquisitor Mendoza, an antagonist from the first Risen game. The loyalty of these characters is swayed by the Hero's actions that corrupt or restore his soul. For example, a negative soul value encourages Mendoza to help Patty's brother make contact with spirits in the Underworld to provide their assistance, but the cost is driving many otherwise loyal crew members away. Conversely, a positive soul value will make many crew members happy, but Mendoza will choose to abandon him when this goes too high.
Restoring the Soul
Steelbeard's Son frequently experiences dreams while sleeping, in which he encounters several deceased characters, including the Titan Lords Ursegor and Mara, his father Captain Steelbeard, former Captains Garcia and Slayne, and others. Not until much later in the game, during a conversation between his reanimated body and his separated soul, does the Hero learn that these "dreams" were actually memories for his spirit's travels in the Underworld.
The druid Eldric on the Iron Bay reveals to the Hero what he knows of ancient magic that may help restore his soul. When Steelbeard's Son retrieves the nekroimortar spell, Eldric studies it and informs him that they require the assistance of Chani and Zacharias, the only sorcerers he's confident are powerful enough to control the spell. They also require a secure location protected by magic to ensure the spell is not interrupted. This sanctuary is provided by the powerful ancient being Morgoloth, whom he must encounter and defeat in combat to assist Chani in the first place.
When preparations are complete — the sorcerers are gathered at Morgoloth's lair where the spider queen has cast a circle of protection and warding — they attempt to restore the Hero's soul with the nekroimortar spell.
Unfortunately, the spell had been modified previously so that it instead summoned the Titan Lord of Death, Nekroloth, to capture the sorcerers and use their power to augment his own. The titan leaves the Hero behind, unable to fight in his present form and confident that the Hero will not be able to hold out much longer without a soul.
Returning to his ship, the Hero learns that Nekroloth's plot was set in motion by the Guardian Horas, who had posed as a part of the ship's crew. Horas had learned of Eldric's intention to restore the Hero's soul, and used the opportunity to plant the false spell where the Hero would be looking. After the Son of Steelbeard finds Horas back on the isle of Taranis, the magical reactor of the Mages is tapped to summon an Ore Titan. Once the titan is subdued and banished back through the summoning portal, Horas explains that he was promised the power to be a titan lord himself (verified by his summoning of the Ore Titan). He then tries to kill the Hero personally, but fails and is killed himself.
Still deprived of his soul, the Hero has no choice but to lead the assault on the Shadows' base on Skull Island. Along the way, they encounter the demon fleet led by Crow, and the Hero manages to defeat the ghost captain and vanquish the demon fleet. A beachhead is established, and the human forces try to capture strategic locations around the island. However, the Shadows prove difficult to uproot, and the Hero must aid several of them in securing their posts.
In the center of the island, a fortress made of rocky spires is guarded by the Son of Steelbeard's own spirit. His soul reveals it is bound by the Death Titan, forced to destroy his own body (committing suicide) if the Hero tries to enter the fortress. The three sorcerers Nekroloth kidnapped are set at points on the island to form a triangle, allowing Nekroloth to draw on their power to release himself from the Underworld and from a spiritual form to becoming corporeal. The Hero find each sorcerer and releases them, weakening Nekroloth enough to free his soul from servitude.
The Hero finally enters and engages the Titan Lord, but is too late: Nekroloth emerges in his true form. He again separates the Hero's spirit from his body, this time, snatching the body away (instead of the spirit), consuming its life force. The Hero's soul must combat the Titan Lord and his hellhounds and soul eaters. At the end of an arduous battle, a weakened Nekroloth throws his own sword at the Hero's soul in a moment of frustration and desperation. Steelbeard's Son dodges the attack, re-enters his own body, and uses the titan's own weapon to strike a final blow that sends Nekroloth back through his crystal portals. As the portals are then destroyed, Nekroloth is returned to the Underworld and no longer poses any immediate threat to the world.
The ending cinematic plays out slightly differently depending on the Hero's soul value at the end of the game. If his soul value is more pure, he returns to the camp on the beach, where his companions await him eagerly, and his sister Patty comes to embrace him. If the Hero's soul is more demonic, the cinematic shows the remainder of his crew tentatively watching him approach. As he nears them, he turns and faces away from them with a demonic gleam in his eyes, showing that his soul has become irreparably corrupt.
Piranha Bytes designed Risen 3 with specific features in mind, viz.:
- Freedom: Players are allowed to freely explore and take on quests at leisure. Different solutions can be used to complete the same quests, providing different outcomes. Different parts of the game can be explored in any order, giving control to the player over shaping their individual character.
- Exploration: Discover quests and characters as you make your way through the diverse world of Risen 3: Titan Lords. From quaint medieval-style towns to delving deep into the dank dark of mines, to the supernatural shadow world, there is a wealth of possibilities waiting to be explored. You will be able to traverse this world in a variety of ways, from swimming to climbing.
- Enhanced combat: Featuring a revamped fighting system, with new animation systems in place that add nuance to the fights.
- Return of magic: Crystal magic has returned, bringing with it devastating new combat abilities. Wield elements such as lightning, fire and ice to obliterate your foes, or make use of a multitude of additional magical skills to aid you in exploration - the choice is yours!
- Guilds & factions: Choose to ally yourself with one of three distinct guilds, each offering unique skills, armouries and quests allowing you to approach your quest in very different ways. Discover additional factions that exist to bend the balance of political power in the world, each with their own agenda for you to uncover. Be careful which characters you trust – some might ally with you with the intent of fulfilling their own sinister plans.
Risen 3: Titan Lords received mixed reviews. The large scale of the world, variety of enemies, and varied environments was praised as well as various minor tweaks to game-play, but the game was panned for its lack of significant improvement over its predecessor. Particularly in the muddied graphics, re-used flawed combat from the second game, abundant glitches, frame rate drops, and screen tearing even in the most scripted and cinematic scenes.
Hooked Gamers stated: "Risen 3: Titan Lords oozes atmosphere and serves as a reminder that this type of roleplaying game is absolutely timeless. All you need is great gameplay, a decent storyline and a rich, varied open world in which every time you turn in a new direction a new adventure awaits. The time-devouring Risen 3 is as much about the player looking to claim back a lost soul as it is about Piranha Bytes finding theirs." While PC Gamer said: Combat quibbles and muddy graphics do little to spoil the fun of this enjoyable RPG.