By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
Usually, we don’t have the time or resources to cover most co-op titles on the market. But when one of particularly high caliber hits the scene, we’re compelled to make exceptions. Back in January of this year, I did an Early Access Preview of the game and now I am back to do a full review. Divinity: Original Sin was funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign, receiving $500,000 beyond their $400,000 goal. Larian Studios, the developer and publisher for the game, has proven itself in the past with other games within the Divinity franchise – with my personal favorite being Divinity II: Ego Draconis. Already being praised for its comprehensive RPG features, strategic turn-based combat evolving relationships with NPCs/your co-op partner, comprehensive scenario editor, and an in-depth crafting system, Divinity: Original Sin promises to be a fantastic experience.
Divinity: Original Sin has a nice amount of customization in all areas. Even though the game is set-in-stone with its two main characters, you are given a decent amount of freedom to change the way they look. The only downside is that you’re going to be choosing from lists – so don’t expect any sliders or whatnot. But there is still enough to make yourself look unique.
Also in character creation, you can either go with the defaults or fine-tune your starting stats and abilities. During your first play-through or two, you probably won’t want to mess with those but I can definitely see myself messing with them more on replays to shake up the experience. The overall character creation in Divinity: Original Sin actually reminds me a lot of one my all-time favorite RPGs – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. They both go into similar depth.
Once you’re done with character creation, the massive amount of customization continues throughout the game. Whenever you level you are given points to put into your stats and abilities to make them stronger. You can also learn skills from skill books to fine-tune your character to be whatever you like. So, you might find your end-game character being completely different than the class (of which there are eleven to choose from at creation) you chose when making your character.
Divinity: Original Sin looks fantastic. Everything in the game looks amazing at ultra settings. The best part of that is, the game isn’t very resource intensive, so most people will be able to run the absolute highest settings without an issue. However, that’s when you’re looking at the whole. When you zoom in close to something, it doesn’t look very high quality – but, because of the landscape focused isometric view, you won’t spend much time zoomed in so much that you’ll notice an issue. I loved the graphics and art-style chosen in this game.
The controls are mostly smooth, once you get used to them. When I first started playing, I did notice a few problems that took a bit to get used to. These issues are magnified a hundred fold if you’re primarily playing a caster, like I was. The issue in question is that if you select an ability or spell, and then decide to switch to a different one, you can’t just click on the other ability to switch to it – you must first right click or hit ESC. If you try to click on another ability before doing that, you’ll find your character turning around and throwing your fire-ball at the ground. I admit that I lost a decent number of my first few battles because of screwing up like this over-and-over before I finally got into the habit of right clicking before I clicked on anything else.
Other than that, the only other issue I ran into was that sometimes moving my mouse to the sides of the screen wouldn’t always move the camera like it should. This isn’t anything game-breaking, but it’s annoying to have to switch back to WASD camera-movement when this issue begins popping up. Hopefully an update is released soon to fix this. Besides those two problems, nothing else bothered me. I enjoyed the tons of customization options given when it comes to the controls of the game, as it was nice to fine-tune my controls to fit myself.
The gameplay in Divinity: Original Sin is quite similar to the gameplay in some of my all-time favorite RPGs. The games that repeatedly popped into my head while playing were Neverwinter Nights and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. What Divinity shares with those games is its story-driven nature, awesome character customization (in terms of stats, abilities, traits, etc…), and how much you get sucked into them. I’ve spent months of my life playing Neverwinter and Knights of the Old Republic due to how great the games were and how much replayability they had, and I can definitely see myself doing the same thing with Divinity: Original Sin.
Don’t mind me, just setting myself on fire.
Combat is a pretty important part of the game, all-around. Not just in combat itself, either. The combat is pretty awesome, though. And that’s coming from someone that usually doesn’t enjoy turn-based combat systems (though I admit I’ve been finding them more enjoyable lately). The combat uses a typical Action Point system, where each movement, ability, or attack takes from your overall pool of Action Points.
One thing that really stands out in this game is the ways you can chance the environment. By casting a fire spell on the ground, you can create a small burning pit that will burn (most) enemies that walk on it. Or you could first cast a spell to create a small spurt of oil to burst from the ground, then have someone in your party shoot a flaming arrow at it to catch it on fire (or just a simple flare spell). You can electrify water, or create steam clouds to help obscure the vision of your enemies. There’s lots of things like this, and some quests will require you to use your head to solve puzzles in this matter. This also adds a few extra layers to combat – you can cast chill on yourself to make yourself more resistant to fire-based attacks or get your enemies wet with rain as a primer for an electric-based attack.
The class system is pretty diverse with eleven classes to choose from. But they’re generally all part of the traditional class archetypes – melee damage dealer, tank, magic damage dealer, healer, rogue/assassin, etc… After you choose your class, you are given pretty free reign over developing your character, though. For example, even though I chose to make my main character as Wizard, I could easily turn him into a spellsword of some sort, or completely for-go magic all together and switch my focus to something more physical.
As I’ve said already, Divinity: Original Sin is completely story-driven. And I don’t mean that you’re going to be spending the whole game following a single story-line, either. I mean there’s so many unique and interesting quests in the game that you’ll always have something to do. Early on, you’ll find your journal full of multiple quests that you can do – some requiring combat, some needing you to wear your detective hat. It’s actually hard for me to refer to them as quests, too. From years and years of playing MMORPGs, quests are synonymous with “kill X of Y and collect Z from their corpse.” The quests in Divinity: Original Sin are more like participatory stories that take you on a meaningful journey.
Humor is something you’ll come across frequently within Divinity. The game manages to have fun with itself, while still managing to be quite serious. An example of this is the Fabulous Five pyramid scheme you’ll be introduced to early on. It’s hilarious at times, due to our outsider’s context, but it’s still a (mostly) completely serious part of the game’s lore. Another example that you’ll run into early on (I’m trying to just mention stuff you find early on so I spoil as little as possible) is the tragic murder of an important council member of the first town you visit. At first it seems like it’s just about aa adulterous wife who killed her husband and is openly flirting with any man she perceives as strong and noble – days after her husband has been killed. However, as you get deeper in, you find that it’s something much deeper and meaningful than that.
Typical pyramid scheme.
Divinity: Original Sin is the RPG I’ve been waited for, to be honest. It’s made in the same vein as a lot of the “old school” RPGs, including one of my all-time favorite games, Neverwinter Nights. If you love party-based RPGs like the original Fallout games, Neverwinter, Baldur’s Gate, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, etc… You will love this game. It has that sense of sending you on an epic adventure, complete with amazing character development, and enough meat and potatoes in the features department to keep things entertaining from start to finish. I would definitely suggest you pick this up whenever you can, as you won’t be disappointed.
Features: 5/5 – A lot of great features, leaving you not wanting for much.
Customization: 4/5 – Almost perfect, I just would have liked more customization in the looks of my character.
Graphics: 4/5 – Looks great from afar, but up-close it’s a bit less than great.
Controls: 3/5 – Some things need to be polished.
Story: 5/5 – Great fantasy world with deep and interesting lore, and yet keeps things light and funny at times.
Overall: 5/5 Overall, the game is great and I wasn’t disappointed at all. This is a perfect example of how a Kickstarter project can turn out amazing.