Divinity II: Ego Draconis
I've been a fan of the Divinity series for years now, ever since I took a chance of the original game and ended up loving it. This sequel has transformed the series from a Diablo style hack and slasher (except with more depth and conversation options) into a 3rd person free roaming affair. The difficulty level can be harsh in places, because there's only a finite number of beasties to kill (once their dead, they stay dead) and vendors never replace their stock of healing potions. Things get considerably easier once you pal up with a necromancer and get him to reanimate a creature out of various body parts for you, as you can get your enemies to beat on it instead of you. The big selling point of Divinity II is the ability to turn into a dragon, but you don't get to do this until quite far into the game (10-15 hours in) and once you do it's initially a bit of a disappointment. There are barriers everywhere, which first have to be taken down on foot before you truly get to explore in the air. A newer version of the game, with improved graphics, reworked gameplay and a new expansion called Flames of Vengeance, came out about a month ago, known as Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga. If you've got the extra cash, this is the version to go for.
Risen has been hailed by many as a spiritual successor to the Gothic series, being made by the same developer as those games. At the start of the game, your character is a stowaway on a ship which very quickly gets smashed to bits by a giant creature called a Titan, with you being washed up on the beach of a mysterious island. As you explore, you will discover three different factions on this island - a group of bandits, some mages and the Inquistion - who capture anyone they find wandering around outside the town and force them to join their ranks. Everyone on the island is obsessed with ruins that have sprung up out of the ground (along with lots of nasty creatures), and the possibility of them containing gold.
Risen is a very open ended game, you can basically wander where you want for the most part (while staying away from the white robed Inquisitors). It is very tough in the early stages, as levelling up doesn't really offer much benefit until you've found a trainer and built up some gold to pay him with. Eventually you will have to choose which of the different factions you want to align yourself with, which will have a slight impact on the abilities you can use (mages can use all magic spells, inquisitors a select few, and bandits none, for example). This game suffers from an ailment that all too many 360 games have - namely text that is far too small for a television screen. The inventory system is also a bit of a bugger to use with a 360 controller, and just compared to the PC version the graphics are washed out, low in detail and suffer from an incredibly low draw distance. Despite all these problems, I would still recommend spending the £10 it will likely cost you to pick up the game preowned.
I'll continue playing these games until I've completed them, and then I'll be back with a full review of both. In the meantime, I have the daunting task of reviewing Fallout: New Vegas - a game that I have something of a love/hate relationship with. See you soon.