Best Gothic-like

In 2014, which Gothic-style game would you play if you could only play one of them? I’m referring specifically to slightly janky open world single-character RPGs that tend to be popular among European developers. I just want to try one of them and throw the rest out of my backlog.

Gothic 2 is probably too old for me now. Risen, Divinity II, and Two Worlds II all seemed about the same during the 1-2 hours I played them. The pirate theme in Risen 2 didn’t seem very attractive.

I read somewhere that Gothic 3 might be the best of the bunch these days after all the community patches. Any truth to that?

I’m looking for good combat and a nice world to explore. Short length for a quick tour is a definite plus.

FWIW I really enjoyed Arcania - Gothic 4, from 2010. Different Devs from the previous Gothic titles. But it looked gorgeous, had fun combat, an ok story, interesting quests and really nice environments to move through. Think I put about 30 hours into it.


If not Gothic 2, then probably Risen 3 as it’s the most modern and polished while maintaining that janky euro rpg spirit. It is still somewhat piratey though. Lots of smaller things to explore rather than a couple big ones.

I enjoyed Gothic 3 a good deal at the time, even back before the community patches. Divinity 2 was ok but it lacks the character the Gothics have. I didn’t get into Two Worlds 2.

Calling the combat good in any of them is a mite contentious. They usually start brutally hard then get overly easy. From memory, Divinity 2 has pretty actiony combat, like a bad Amalur. Two Worlds 2 is like a poor-man’s Oblivion. The Gothics/Risens, like a half-baked Dark Souls in that you have to use block and dodge and choose your shots or you get creamed.

Alistair, stop re-playing Risen 2 and get in here with your opinion!

This is an awesome summary. The reverse difficulty curve is no problem. I do like the idea of choosing my shots and integrating limited dodging and blocking, although with the Risen games I’ve played enough and seen enough videos to know that calling it a half-baked Dark Souls is being too kind. :)

Always the funniest part about watching gameplay videos of these games:

Haha yeah just trying to get the idea across - quarter baked then? ;)

I enjoyed the combat in the Piranha Bytes games more so than that in Divinity or Two Worlds. Some people hated it. I think Risen 2 was a bit of a step back though.

Alistair is the man with these types of games, I’m keen to hear his take as well.

I liked Divinity II The Dragon Knight Saga the best of the bunch. Kingdoms of Amalur was repetitive and boring. It was so easy that you don’t even really have to try. I liked Gothic 2 better than Risen. I actually finished Gothic 2 but Risen bored me. Two Worlds was rather dull too. I didn’t last too long in Gothic 3. It didn’t seem like there was much variety.

Divinity II remains one of my favourite of these open-world games. It starts slow, admittedly, and really doesn’t take off (ho ho) until you get to the second, more open area, but it keeps adding awesome as you progress, the combat is much better as a spell caster I think (blasting stuff with projectile bolts never gets old). It’s hard to say why it gets awesome without spoiling some of the surprises, but it experiments with interesting ideas you don’t normally see in the genre. The writing is also great, with a wicked sense of humour. Finally, the expansion content Flames of Freedom (which should be part of Div II by default these days) is possibly the best part of the entire experience. I’d take it over any of the other ones you mentioned.

When we talked about this before, one of the ideas was to play Div II: Flames of Vengeance (oh, there will be no freedom here) standalone and skip the base game. Is it possible to jump straight into the expansion? I can’t remember now and Google doesn’t seem to help, which might be a bad sign.

Sorry, Vengeance. ;) I honestly don’t think it works that way. It’s basically a brilliant culmination of an excellent game, but it would be like skipping to the last third of a book - you’d be lost, miss a lot of in-jokes, and wonder WTF was going on most likely. It’s not like the rest of the game is a drag to get through, although like I said the first chapter is small, modest, traditional, and really doesn’t give you much idea of what is to come. All I can do is tell you that it gets a lot better. Of course there is a chance that you will completely disagree with me, but I’m happy to take that risk for the chance you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Damn, maybe I need to play it some more as well. I only got about 12 hours in.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect. There is a certain clunkiness to the game at times, it doesn’t have the sheen or polish or something like Skyr… wait, what am I saying? At least it didn’t ever crash, and I didn’t fall through the world! But you know what I mean, it has that not really AAA-like feel about it, but you soon forget about that. It’s fairly obvious what major ability you end up with, and it takes a while to get there, but there are other surprises too. Towards the end game it almost feels like an ARPG, which is why being a projectile-based magic user (or at least a sword-wielding battlemage) becomes so much fun. The music is great, the graphics are good enough for it to look very pretty at times, and the scriptwriters were clearly having a great time with genre conventions. It’s one reason why I’m surprised to hear that Divinity: Original Sin had such - apparently - poor writing, but I guess they lost whoever was responsible between the two games. Flames of Vengeance actually brings everything back down to earth, and it becomes more of an investigative mystery.

I buy all these things and then don’t play them much. So in looking through my backlog I have Gothic II: Gold, Gothic 3, Divinity II: Developer’s Cut, Divinity III: The Dragon Knight Saga, and Two Worlds II: Velvet Edition from GOG (though I see it’s on Steam now). Hey don’t forget the Drakensang series too, though: I vaguely recall Drakensang: The River of Time as getting good reviews here.

I don’t have any of the Risen(s), though Risen 3 is on my want list.

Someone should do some sort of hierarchy or genealogy of these games because they all jumble up in my mind.

Piranha Bytes made Gothic 1, 2, and 3, then they made Risen 1, 2 and 3. All follow a similar template. Around the time of Risen 1, a different studio made Gothic 4.

Larian Studios made Divine Divinity, Beyond Divinity, Divinity 2: Ego Draconis. Dragon Knight Saga is Ego Draconis plus an expansion. The Developer’s Cut is a free upgrade to Dragon Knight Saga that adds a dev. console feature. Then they did Divinity: Dragon Commander (poorly received), and Divinity: Original Sin (very well received).

Radon Labs did Drakensang: The Dark Eye, followed by Drakensang: The River of Time.

The Two Worlds games I never really played much of.

Clunkiness is a hallmark of these Gothic-style games, they’re all similar in that respect, so yes I know what you mean. :)

Personally for me the Piranha Bytes games have a special atmosphere to them that really resonates.

The exploration, there’s always a lot of hand-crafted detail, with hidden stuff everywhere.

I think they pioneered the ‘living-world’ style of NPCs that have routines, and notice what’s going on around them, commenting when you are sneaking around or attacking if you steal their stuff.

The wildlife (and citizens) always gives you verbal and visual warnings before attacking, I’m surprised more games don’t do this.

I also loved that they each had their own routine they’d go through after killing you, like starting to feed, or claiming your items (I think the monster victory routine cam is not in the later Risen games unfortunately).

The 3 faction system, although it gives me analysis paralysis every time.

Just all these little types of atmospheric things, even though the games can be buggy and clunky, give them a special place in my collection.

I’ve played a lot of Drakensang: The River of Time, and it’s very good. However, it’s also very slow, with a lot of minor questing that needs to be done before things get interesting. Eventually I moved onto something else having completing about 60% of it (it’s a very long game), and I don’t fancy replaying all that to remind myself where I was, but one day I’ll try to pick it back up.

I tried Gothic 4 once, really didn’t like it at all. It seemed to be Gothic-lite, and the engine was atrocious once I got outside the opening cave; felt like wandering around an early alpha, complete with graphical glitches, terrible animation, and voice overs straight out of the “get the cleaning lady to say this into the microphone” school.

Dragon’s Dogma is really the Gothic II for the new generation. Heading out into the unknown with random, hard as balls battles that kick your ass while you whoop it up.

I agree completely - If someone hasn’t tried Dragons Dogma, and can get it, there really is no reason to get anything else. Such a wonderful, wonderful game. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but this is the only game that had me grinning with maniacal glee at times, looking at what was going on on the screen.

Pity they never ported it to PC, I’d have been all over it too.

Likewise; I don’t own a platform that it’s available on. :(