This is one of those game that deserve a neutral rating if Steam has one. Risen is an open world RPG, you are stranded on a island and has to join force with local factions and help them with their agendas to survive. I've only played a few hours at this point but the story is bland and uninteresting, VO can be all over the place. Most of the time it's not good.
Graphically RIsen can be a mixed bag. Flora looks good, environment is ok for a 2009 game but NPC looks bad. Design is bland and the town is pretty ugly.
As for the game play, Risen is play in third person view and structurally similar to other open world RPG, you wander around, explore and getting tons of quests. If you've played an open world RPG before like fallout, elder scroll or the gothic series; you already know the general flow of the game.
The combat in this game is quite clunky, you can equip 2 weapon, one melee/staff, one range weapon. You don't have a lot of option for melee combat, just an attack and block button, range weapon is very slow but enemies are very easy to kite.
The leveling system is obtuse, you gained learning points after a level but can't spend them unless you go see a trainer and pay them gold to get stats increase. This lead to hilarious situation where you're in a school supposedly learning things but can't get any stats increase because there's no easy way to make money. This make the early game quite difficult since quest payout is 20/30 gold while you need increasingly more money to gain stats. 1 stat point cost 10-20 gold and you earned 10 stat points per level. Basically you will have to try and scavenge everything.
Depends on how you play the game though. the problem above can be completely trivial. You can get 1 point in sneaking and pickpocketing and proceed to steal everything from everyone. I became filthy rich just 30 mins after getting the skills and this broke the economy. Stealing is really easy in this game and require no trick, just engage in a conversation option and steal. I stole a soldier's shield as I was talking to him once, it's pretty funny.
Quest design is my biggest complain about this game, in open world rpg a good developer would give you multiple options to finish a quest. Not really the case in risen. people in this game are very easily agro if you are in a room and open a chest you're not supposed to. I accidentally agro an NPC and proceed to woop his ♥♥♥ and he refused to talk to me afterward thus making it impossible for me to finish a quest that involving him (you can get a spell to make them forget but in the early game I have I've only found 1 scroll so far). In another instant, I was supposed to get training from some dude, he made me fight him as a test, I won but click 1 time too much and he's dead, another impossible to finish quest. Worst of all these quest chains are necessary for you to get out of the monastery and I was stuck with no option to go out. Luckily I found a place to hop the fence and book it.
Despite all the ♥♥♥♥♥ing I've done, Risen still compelled me enough to play for more than 2 hour at a time and write a review for it. This is more than I can say for the CODs and ♥♥♥ creed out there. As clunky as it is, wandering around and ♥♥♥♥ing with the local NPCs is fun.
However, when you look at it objectively, RIsen is not a good game, there are good ideas in it but it's too clunkly and in some cases poorly implement. There are much better open world RPG out there, the Gothic series, its predecessor is one example. I can only recommend this game if you are a big fan of open world RPG and has exhausted all of your other options. Overall a 6/10 for me and recommendation with serious reservations.