Everything has gone to Hell on the Southern Seas. There's a ghost pirate smashing up ships, demonic Shadows are terrorizing the islands, the local leadership is scared shitless, and you... well, you're just some poor bastard whose soul was stolen by a Shadow Lord. Can you get your life back and save the world in the process? It'll take skill and patience, but Risen 3: Titan Lords has rich rewards in store for those who are willing to take a chance on it.
Risen 3 is an open-world action RPG--think Skyrim but with a more structured combat system, more moral choices in its quests, and a higher difficulty level. Its rich, tropical world is one of its greatest assets. Your nameless swashbuckling protagonist (not the same Nameless One who starred in the previous Risen games) has access to most of the Southern Sea's islands from the start. Although these seem small at first, most are quite expansive. Each island is packed with quests to complete, hidden treasures to loot, and puzzles to solve, but they're also home to people with surprisingly well-realized languages and cultures. You can wade into tribal politics on Kila, learn to speak some cheeky Gnomish slang, backstab snooty mages, and banter with lackadaisical pirates. Everybody has an opinion about their own culture and the current crisis, and it’s fun to get to know them.
These colorful characters bring plenty of flavor to the world, and provide both pathos and humor to the story. They're all fully, strongly voiced and have human flaws, which your character responds to in a relatable manner. Dialogue options give you a chance to be kind, even to jerks who don’t deserve it, or just act like an ass to everyone. Thanks to a Soul meter, you’ll see these choices either increase your humanity or slide your soulless butt towards becoming a demonic minion, which allows you to befriend Underworld denizens but causes humanity to forsake you. Making immoral choices can be tempting, especially when dealing with unlikeable characters, making for interesting quests and compelling role-play.
Though the moment-to-moment questing is excellent, Risen 3's overall plot feels disjointed. Despite having other characters talk regularly about your precarious position, there isn't a real feeling of urgency in the quest to regain your soul. Although your soulless state technically drives the plot forward, it doesn’t have any major gameplay implications unless you purposefully veer towards evil, so it’s hard to feel like you’re in a race against time to retain your humanity.