- Risen is a single-player fantasy-themed action role-playing game.
- Risen is set on Faranga island. The environment is mostly mountainous, with different climates and Mediterranean vegetation. The island is dominated by an active volcano and inhabited by a wide variety of creatures.
- There are two main settlements on Faranga: Harbor Town, under the rule of Bandit chief Don Esteban, and the Monastery, where mages and scholars study and research magic.
The player is a stowaway on a small ship. Near Faranga, the ship is destroyed by a Titan, and he washes up on the shores unharmed. After exploring the island and meeting its inhabitants, the player can choose a faction with which to align.
The player technically has access to most of the island right from the beginning of the game. However, the paths leading further into the island are almost always blocked by numerous wild creatures that can easily overwhelm and kill a beginner character. After the player character acquires better skills and equipment, he can explore the island with much more freedom. Risen has smaller areas that can't be accessed until later. Creatures do not respawn in the first part of the game, but do so in later parts.