Call that fear to life.

A short while ago, we took a look at Gothic for the Nintendo Switch. The RPG port was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. But when I found out there was a follow-up game, I thought to myself, “Self, maybe Gothic II Complete Classic will have fixed some of what was unlikable about the first episode.” I’m sorry to say that Self was disappointed. It isn’t all bad, but it didn’t get the improvements I’d hoped for.

Let’s start with what may be the strongest aspect of the game: the story. Picking up where Gothic ended, you are back from the dead (insert Spinal Tap reference here), and you need to renew your quest to save the world. This time, it isn’t about some prisoners under a dome; there is something bad coming, and you have to stop it. On the up-side, there is a grand story with characters, plots, and a bunch of incidental stuff. On the down-side, it is all a bit predictable.

Gothic II Complete Classic provides you with a healthy dose of background and preparation information in the opening dialogue with the wizard, Xardas. When you die and start over, however, you can’t skip this  dialogue. Additionally, the voice acting hasn’t gotten any better since the first episode, so it is rather uninspiring. As you wander through the game, you can interact with many NPCs and glean bits of information. The information gathering is slow and often not very helpful, which dulls the game experience a bit.

Next up are the graphics. While the imagery is a little bit better looking than the previous installment, it is only a very little bit better. The visuals are still a bit too angular relative to the technology, and the game still looks like it was really good…twenty years ago. I get that this is a Switch port of an older game, but it would be nice to see it cleaned up a bit.

There is still plenty of walking through solid objects. The game also has a very unfortunate habit regarding the camera angle. I had rather a rough time trying to keep the point of view in one relative position. As I was wandering in the castle, the camera angle would drift up or down with a will of its own. It is relatively easy to reset, but having to babysit the camera so you can see where you are going became frustrating.

The soundscape is next on the agenda. As with other elements, we have a mixed bag here. Some of the audio, like the background music, is well done and enjoyable. The sound effects, however, are a bit shallow, repetitive, and too often annoying. One thing I found particularly unpleasant is the sound of our hero’s boots on the stone floor of the castle. It is far too “clacky” for me, and the way the game registers footfalls, which triggers the sound effect, is twitchy. A simple quarter turn to look at something can yield a brief flurry of clicky footfalls where, in reality, we might expect a shuffle and a single tap. Some of the other sound effects are similarly disappointing. Overall, the soundtrack does help make up a lot of ground, so the audio isn’t completely tragic.

Let’s talk about combat. You start with a very basic weapon, and you have to collect, trade, and purchase your way to better gear. What the game doesn’t provide is any kind of instruction on how to equip or use your gear. I get it—this is a sequel. But sometimes people start in the middle of the series, so some basics are always called for.

Another reason to have a quick review of equipping and using your weapons is that almost everything and everyone in this world is likely to take a crack at killing you, so you need to be armed and ready. Even in the very beginning, there are wolves, bandits, and mutant mosquitoes which can kill you rather quickly. It is actually one of the more discouraging facets of the game, it’s a bit too easy to get killed early on. Gothic II could use a lower grade difficulty ramp. The movement is also wonky enough to make getting and staying on target during combat a bit tricky (which, of course, gets you dead quickly).

There is still a heroic story to be had, plenty of baddies to destroy, battles to fight, and a world to save in Gothic II Complete Classic. There are plenty of game elements to manage to keep you busy for a while, and the open world exploration helps to keep it loose and relaxed. However, there are plenty of other RPG action options which will look, sound, and play better. I have played some really great games from THQ Nordic, but this title needs some work.