Risen does not boast cutting-edge visual technology, but it is an attractive game, if not quite a standout. Green meadows look lush and appealing, and you can practically feel the stagnant mist on your skin as you wander through swamplands. The over-dark dungeons need a touch of atmosphere; they cry for better color contrast and more effective lighting, and you'll cry for them too when you miss the indications of a trap due to the dim surroundings. Yet other areas look terrific, such as looming cliffs dramatically connected by a suspended bridge. The world offers few visual surprises--Risen looks like a typical fantasy game--but environments are delivered with enough flair to mask the scattered presentation blemishes. The same could be said about the sound design. The music is standard for the genre: pretty enough to set the right mood and not grate, but not powerful enough that you'd want to buy a recording of the soundtrack.
Risen's flaws are notable. The unsatisfying combat lacks precision and flow, and bizarre quirks are common enough to make you wish the game had spent more time in development. But these problems aside, the game makes you care about its characters, which gives its main quest a sense of urgency few RPGs can match. It takes time to make an impression, but give it a chance: Risen will grow on you, and when it does, you may very well be hooked.