Dug up from the last-gen graveyard, the PlayStation 4 version of Risen 3: Titan Lords shares one big similarity with the unnamed hero at the heart of its own story: everyone thought that they were both dead and buried. Unfortunately the similarities end there, as only one's been resurrected to sail the high seas, in a quest to retrieve their soul, while the other's merely a sub-par action RPG. In this case it's not hard to work out which is which.
With Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition joining the ever growing parade of definitive editions no one asked for, there's always the hope that the developers saddled with the project would at least try to improve things on more than just a shallow visual level. Sadly in most cases this isn't what happens, so time and time again it feels like the bare minimum is being done to get a game out of the door, with a bump in the visual fidelity being the only noticeable improvement.
So, what are the differences in this enhanced edition? Unsurprisingly, the biggest change is in the game's graphical performance. With a higher resolution – and some more visual bells and whistles – the graphics look noticeably better, though on the flipside it makes the flaws in the already dated visuals even more apparent. Even the improved draw distance hasn't fully removed the issues seen in the original, with a fair amount of object and texture pop-in still noticeable as you run around on your adventures.
The framerate has also seen a benefit from the move to a newer console, though considering how the PlayStation 3 version turned into a near slideshow at times, this improvement isn't really anything to shout about, since it merely gets the game to what we'd deem to be an acceptable standard. That's not to mean that the game runs at a solid 30 frames-per-second throughout either, as there are still occasional dips that serve as a reminder that in some ways this version is just as unpolished as the one that came before.
Further additions come in the form of some previously released DLC packs. These include two additional islands to visit – each with their own quest lines to follow – as well as a new outfit for your pirate, which provides a nice early stat boost. These are all accessible as soon as you leave the first area, so if you've played Risen 3 before, you can experience this newer content without having to worry about completing the main quest again.
The side quests on each of these new islands feel very much like those in the rest of the game, with the usual mix of fetch and kill quests which will take you a few hours to complete. There is an attempt to mix things up on one island, where some Gnomes have a particularly annoying Goblin infestation. However, this focuses on some of the more problematic elements of the gameplay, which seems like a very odd approach to take.
In order to try and retrieve some stolen items for you Gnomish friends you're forced to ditch the party member who usually accompanies you on your travels, so you can sneak into various Goblin camps. This is quite frankly a bizarre choice as sneaking in Risen 3 is really tedious, mainly due to the fact that your character moves at a snail's pace. On top of that, there's no on-screen feedback to help you tell when you can and can't be seen, meaning that any attempt at stealth is guaranteed to become an exercise in frustration. It's even more annoying when you realise that you can actually just run into the camps to grab the items, and could have saved yourself all the hassle of trying to do it unseen.
Outside of the visual improvements and extra bits of content, the game remains completely unchanged from last year's version – with all of the good and bad that that brings. The pirate theme is still by far the strongest element, managing to deliver a fantasy setting that's an interesting place to spend time in. The sheer volume of quests is also enough to keep anyone busy for a decent amount of time, and while the mission design compares poorly to those found in more recent RPGs, they have just enough character to keep you engaged.
Even though there are things to actually like about Risen 3, there's one part that lets the whole experience down, and that's its combat system. It's so bad, in fact, that it completely overshadows any enjoyment that you might have been having. It's hard to believe that there weren't any changes made for the PS4 version – especially considering it's some of the most frustrating and repetitive combat you'll likely have experienced for quite some time.
Right from the start you'll find yourself facing off against aggressive enemies that pack a massive punch, and surviving even the most mundane of fights can turn out to be a real challenge. An epiphany will come, though, when you realise that dodge rolling makes you invulnerable to attacks, and from that point on, this single strategy will become your crutch for the rest of the game.
This leads you into what feels like a near endless parade of battles where you roll your hero around the floor avoiding attacks, as you wait for just the right time to give your opponent a whack. The whole thing would be comical if it wasn't soul crushingly dull, and you'll begin to consciously avoid combat whenever possible. Things do improve as your character levels up and gets tougher – as well as gaining access to more spells – but it's too little too late, especially since you're still forced to roll around like a demented gymnast if you want any chance of surviving some of the late game encounters.
In a perfect world, remasters and enhanced editions would be reserved for games that fall into one of two categories: classics and underappreciated gems. Unfortunately, Risen 3: Titan Lords - Enhanced Edition is neither. Improved visuals and a few more quests just aren't enough to turn the tide of opinion on this wreck, and with other RPGs since its initial release raising the bar even higher than before, it would have been better if – unlike the game's hero – this title had stayed dead.