TL;DR - This game is superbly gorgeous visually, but lacks vision and boils down to a very linear, and repetitive gameplay. The combat is just button mashing, and the story is boring. However, if you are a hardcore RPG fan, I recommend this game, as it still offers a new experience, and the world is fun to traverse. If you're looking for a Skyrim or Dragon Age experience, LOOK ELSEWHERE. This is an odd game.
In depth review -
This is game is... Interesting, to say the least. Now I can't necessarily say it's horrible, and I can't really say it's good, either. This game is a weird anomaly of a game, and has an interesting combination of good, and horrible, mechanics and features.
To be honest, I have never had the pleasure of playing any of the original Gothic series, so going into this game, I didn't have any knowledge prior of some sort of bar this game had to meet. However, going in, I did get that "Weird RPG feel." You know the one. The feel you get when you launch a game from the Risen series, or the first Witcher game. It just has a weird feel to it, and I can't explain it, unless you've experienced it.
Anyways, let's start with the basics of the game, and what's not good or good about those. First off, I'd like to mention the first thing I disliked; the voice acting. Good lord. It's like something out of the Arma franchise. So much overacting, or there's complete lack of enthusiasm with these people. You'll go straight from a stereotypical, high-pitched, screetching witch, to a bored, complaining footsoldier who is in mid-combat. Appropriate. It's just very bad, and very... jarring. It takes you way out of the immersion, and that's not a word I like to use.
Next on the list is the aesthetic appeal of the game, and to be honest, for a game that's 5 years old, it looks great. The colors are fantastic, the sceneries are incredible, and the lighting effects, down to some of the tiniest details is great. Just wait til you get to the point where you fight some flaming stone golems, and you'll see exactly what I mean. Adding to this point as well, there is a GREAT variety of environments. You have everything from starting with a sandy, lush beach island, to a volcanic cliffside, rain forests, and green moderate forests with plenty of rain, and lakes to enjoy. Adding to this again, the world is quite nice. It's not overwhelmingly huge, but they did a good job not making it too linear, even though it has more of that path system. The only thing I'll add that I didn't like about aesthetics were the character models. They weren't BAD persay, but they all tend to look VERY similar, which tends to be a problem with these larger RPGs, especially the older they are.
The next thing is the gameplay. Really, to be honest, there isn't any. It's trying to be The Witcher, or Dragon Age, with dialogue options and in depth combat, but what it boils down to is just click, click, and click some more. No need to dodge, or even look at what dialogue you're selecting. It all will do the same thing; you win. I have not had a problem ever with the difficulty. I HAVE been playing on normal, but I didn't die til about 6 hours in. Just keeping clicking that sword around, OR just run away. That's always an option, unless the quest specifically orders something to be killed.
The dialogue is just dumb, just look at what I said about voice acting.
Now, here is where my BIGGEST problem is with this game; ♥♥♥♥ THE QUESTS. Oh my god. I have never seen a more roundabout way to keep a game's playtime up. Jesus, these people milked the ♥♥♥♥ out of these quests. Get ready to fight some goblins, because that 99.9% of your problems. Not your friends and wife-to-be being murdered, NO, your biggest problem will be goblins. Need to prove yourself to someone? Kill goblins. Need to return the kings standard? Goblins took it. Need to help an herbalist get his stuff back? Goblins took that ♥♥♥♥ too. Need to ANYTHING in a cave? GOBLINS ARE IN THAT ♥♥♥♥ING CAVE! And believe me, there are way too many quests that involve going into a cave with goblins. I would easily say that 70-80% take place in a cave. I'm not making that up. That's my honest guestimate. The other problem with the quests is this; they drag them the ♥♥♥♥ out so long. One of the quests you need to go find a king or something that was taken prisoner. Ok, easy enough right? Wrong. You go talk to the orc who's guarding the gate of the camp, hoping you can just kill, or run your way through. Wrong again, you have to talk to this guy. He wants some booze from a shaman who brews the stuff in a forest nearby. Ok, easy enough again, right? WRONG AGAIN. Guess what, this guy won't give you the booze (which is called skabooze, by the way, real imaginative, right?), until you find his nephew somewhere in the forest who ran off. EASY ENOUGH RIGHT?? ♥♥♥♥ING WRONG YOU ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥, BECAUSE GUESS WHAT? YOU NEED TO GO FIND THIS GUYS AMULET THAT ANOTHER SHAMAN TOOK! At this point you want to just kill everybody, and what doesn't help is that your character acknowledges along the way that all of this stuff is redundant, and stupid. He constantly gets impatient and makes sarcastic remarks about having to go do menial and boring stuff, and then later, he EXPECTS it. So the DEVs KNEW this ♥♥♥♥ was redundant and menial, but still willingly put it in the game. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s. Anyways, the Shaman that took that other orcs amulet, that you need to get booze, that you need to get into a gate, that you need to get the prisoner? Guess what? After you fight him, YOU HAVE TO GO INTO A ♥♥♥♥ING CAVE THAT HE HID IT IN ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FOREST, FILLED WITH ♥♥♥♥ING GOBLINS AGAIN!!!!! So all of that ♥♥♥♥, and guess what? YOU JUST KILL THE ORCS INSIDE ANYWAYS, SO WHY WASTE THE TIME GETTING THAT ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ HIS BOOZE TO BEGIN WITH?!?!
Whatever. Beyond that, there's something about this that I can't explain that's rather appealing. The skill trees are ok. Combat works, even though it's just button mashing. The areas are rather gorgeous at times, and the music is just on par. The dialogue is complete crap, and story is uninspired, but at the same time, I get enjoyment from this game, and will probably end up playing the original Gothic games. Those are supposed to be the really good ones. So if this one works for me somewhow, I'm sure those will too.
Overall, it's a 5/10 for me, but I still recommend it to the hardcore RPG fan. Give it a shot, you might enjoy it if you're into those weird RPGs. But remember, it ain't no Dragon Age, or Skyrim.