January 7, 2018

Early Map and Dungeons Exploration in Risen Game

I really like Piranha Bytes' Risen game, even though it is a pretty old game from 2009. Many players may not have heard of this game since it launched without much fanfare. I too first found it by chance and was quickly absorbed by the open world gameplay, much like a medieval Grand Theft Auto. 

Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I did not go very far in my first play. Since then, Risen 2 and 3 were released. Even though I have them all in my Steam library, I never had the chance to play the series anymore. Recently, I decided to revisit the first Risen game again and wanted to share some interesting observations from my second play.

Risen is unlike most RPGs, at least for its time, in that it is not very linear. While it is true that you have your usual main and side quests, except for small parts of the world which is locked out by magical barriers, you can actually visit most of the places right from the get go, after waking up on the beach.

The only limitation put in place was tough monsters which blocked access to secret treasures or dungeons, Given your initial outfit of rag tag clothes and probably a stick or broken sword picked up from the beach, you would do better to heed the game tutorials and not venture too far from the guided path until you get to the Bandits' camp or Harbour Town. In fact, given your lousy state of affairs, it is unlikely you can explore many places in the beginning.




However, I accidentally found an interesting but tedious game tip which allowed me to traverse most of the areas after getting into the Bandits' camp. But first, let me talk about an aspect of the combat system.

You see, in this game, you can lure monsters to NPCs, who will start engaging the enemies until one party dies. Usually the enemies will go down first, unless the NPC is severely under-strength or not a "combat" type NPC. While this is an easy method to thin the enemy ranks if you are facing a group of them in the beginning, there are three main caveats to look out for:

  1. You need to be extra careful not to hit the NPC while fighting enemies together, as the game will register you having initiated combat and the NPC will turn against you after the enemy is dead.

  2. If the NPC lands the last blow, you gain no experience.

  3. NPC may pick up weapons from fallen enemies (e.g. skeleton warriors, humans, gnomes). I have also observed them rummaging human enemy dead bodies, although they did not seem to take any items.

The above leads to dilemma when you just start the game. On one hand, you are most down and out in the beginning and will take some time to get any useful equipment or gold to upgrade your skills. Meanwhile, even simple monsters like Stingrats and Vultures will kill you in a few hits if you are not careful. On the other hand, if you want to get NPC help, you will need to pay attention as they may steal your experience and enemy-dropped weapons. There is also the possibility of them dying during combat which will affect some other quests.

This brings me to the interesting observation which I had not seen mentioned anywhere else, and would like to share it here: Fincher.

Fincher is one of Don Esteban's henchmen in the bandits' camp and his important right hand man. He is in the same cave as Don Esteban, so you can only get to Fincher after you finish the quest to see Don Esteban (hint: Golden Sword).

When you first talk to Fincher, he will give you a quest to clean out the White Robe outpost just beside the bandits' camp (Conquest of the Artefact Camp). You will be given the option to lead the Don's fighters (six of them) or tell Fincher to go and be the big boy. 

Three interesting observations comes up in this quest:

  1. The game has a predefined activity area which as long as you stay within, these guys will follow you anywhere you go, and will help you to fight the White Robes and even other enemies too. If you go beyond the activity area, they will go into the waiting state and rejoin you after you step into the activity area again. You can get them to move beyond the area by luring monsters to them but after combat, they go back into the waiting state again. 

  2. You get the experience from killing enemies even if the other fighters land the ending blow. They will however, pick up weapons left behind by the White Robes or gnomes. Weirdly, they do not pick up weapons from the skeleton warriors.

  3. Unlike the other six guys, Fincher is invincible. Meaning, he does not suffer any damage even when enemies hit him. I first found this out by chance when engaging the White Robes during the quest. While the other fighters will drink something to replenish their health after each fight, Fincher does not need to do so.

Motivated to experiment further, I separated Fincher from the rest of the team and started luring him around the world map. Indeed, he was able to kill ghouls, thunder lizards, even ash beasts and undead lords (from Leon's quest) without suffering any blood loss. 




I started off tackling the monsters from the western side of the world map where the Bandit camp was. It did take a while to get those monsters to Fincher, especially since monsters will stop and stare after following you for a distance and turn around if you are no longer within their detection rangeSo, you need to maintain enough distance to avoid getting hit while at the same time not go too far that they stop following you. A good method I found was to listen to the enemy's noises, each type of enemy makes a different noise between following and stopping to stare. The background music also goes from the battle music to normal music if the monsters turn around. 

By the time I started going to the eastern side of the map, I found another helpful tactic to get Fincher go further distances. Lure a single monster close enough into Fincher's detection range so that he draws his weapon, and then quickly turn around to whichever direction you want to bring him, and use the monster to lure him along. Do note that since monsters will stop and stare periodically after following you, Fincher may catch up and engage the monster.

As proof, you can see Fincher in this screenshot. In the background is the abandoned house at the eastern side of the map.


Fincher in Risen game, Piranha Bytes
Fincher at the eastern side of game world, Abandoned House in background

The world map screenshot below also shows his position (green dot) relative to the original quest objective of killing the white robes (red dot).


Risen game, Piranha Bytes, Fincher
Quest map of "Conquest of the artefact camp" showing Fincher's location

That is all regarding this game tip. For those who feels this as an exploit which defeats the purpose of playing the game, feel free not to use it. I think it is all a matter of gaming preference. Since Risen is an open world game which does not block the player from accessing high level places, then it is up to the player to decide how he wants to approach the game. Going the normal way of leveling up is a slow process and the player will take a long time before he can explore some of the dungeons or high level parts of the map. Using the above method to explore the secrets of the world map is tedious but the player can access some of the more interesting parts of the map much earlier, like the underground lava area in the western cave, where I encountered and lured my first Ashbeast to Fincher, which is only possible after having Fincher to help kill a few ghouls along the way. Having this invincible henchman also encourages me to expand my exploration, as I know I have a reliable means of killing any tough enemy encounter. The extra benefit is getting to chests quicker and getting more gold to help level up skills.

I will update further if I find any more interesting observations or side effects of using Fincher's invincibility in this way.



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