by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
There are lots of games that go to Kickstarter that, when they launch are utter failures/disappointments (Mighty No. 9). Divinity: Original Sin 2 is not one. In fact, it may be the best single player/multi-player RPG to hit the market in years. It’s been so long since I’ve had an open RPG that didn’t make me clam up and enter decision paralysis. There are so many choices and ways to play this game that I just can’t put it into words sufficiently. DOS2 takes place centuries after the last Original Sin title, and this world is in dire need of something. Your end-game goal is to become the new Deity. You’re going to be a God! So how does that work in multiplayer? Because yes, you can play this online with your friends. I’ll avoid spoilers, because while I haven’t gotten to the end quite yet, a friend did explain to me what happens in multiplayer end-game. You won’t want to miss it, I promise. Bishop Alexander has declared all Sourcerers (that’s probably you, by the by) to be heretics/criminals, so you start your experience on a slave ship on the way to a Port City on an island.
One of the truly interesting things (I feel like I’m going to say that a lot) is that you can play as one of the lore characters in this world, or you can opt to make your own character. From Dwarves, Lizard Nobles, to Undead (which tacks on an extra level of difficulty; Undead aren’t exactly welcome in society) and Elven slaves, you really run the gambit of characters. You can play any race/class combination you please, There are perks, traits, et cetera. I think one of my favorite perks is talking to animals. You can actually talk to Pets. And it’s useful! It’s actually useful. It’s great to get a feel for situations you might not understand, or know what’s going on because you weren’t paying attention. Everything in this game is useful for something or another. And I mean everything. You can bring three of the lore characters with you if you please, or you can hoof it alone and see what fate has in store for you. And wow, is this game challenging. For a real time RPG, combat is turn-based, and you can harm your friends inadvertently. As you journey through this world, you’ll be given a variety of options when you talk to people. Depending on your character/stats/perks you might be able to choose new dialogue options, and these might lead to a fight, new information, or you’ll get nowhere. It’s bound to happen! There wasn’t a single character I came across that I didn’t enjoy speaking to, even if nothing useful came of it.
But these characters think and feel for themselves, and may not always agree with your decisions and choices. You can leave them to stand in a position far away if you’re about to do something they don’t agree with. Because if your parties goals clash with one another, you can, “break” some of the main story quests. EG: If you bring the Lizardman noble with you, and the Elven slave, she is not fond of a Lizardman Dreamer that’s on the outskirts of town. If you bring her to him, she’ll try to convince you to let her kill the Lizard. This will infuriate the party member of yours because he needs that Dreamer to push the story for himself forward. And you won’t be able to save someone’s life because of this. Everything is tied together in a way that I am not smart enough to comprehend. So you can have her wait off in the distance, if you go in knowing this, and do your task with your party, then send her in to kill. But even if you don’t know that, fear not. This game is so intricate, that even if you break a quest, there are like four other ways to proceed. For example, I accidentally killed the Dreamer, so I went and found the Gloves of Teleportation and followed that path off the Island.
But when you get into fights, and you will, It’s based on initiative, an AP pool, and a variety of powers and items. It becomes a turn-based strategy game, and location, height, and even the junk around you can be useful. I spent most of the early battles getting my party killed though, because of fire primarily. The terrain is useful and downright necessary to understand to really succeed in battle. Freezing water, throwing barrels of water into a fire to pass through it, hurling fire at barrels of lamp oil to set guards on fire. Undead can be cured with poison, and the lore character comes with poison jars he throws, which he can heal himself with, harm others (and accidentally harm allies. Ahem.) It’s very “Sun Tzu’s Art of War” with how much tactical control you have, if you know yourself and your surroundings. There are lots of battles that I got into simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or trying to pickpocket the very first NPC in the game (which was probably an important one, but she had to die! I can’t have people knowing I’m a thief!). These fights weren’t impossible but they were pretty damn challenging. If you decide a route isn’t for you, just go explore more and check under every nook and cranny. There’s always another way.
A Diamond in the Rough: 5/5
However I did find some annoying, frustrating bugs that almost made me start over. The biggest one was quests that were broken/impossible to complete staying on my screen as quests I could complete. It was infuriating and I spent a lot of time wandering the island like a doofus, trying desperately to figure out what was wrong, when I was in the right spot. This was frustrating, but once I figured things out I was happy again. Every character is interesting, well written, and many cases, hilarious. Not to mention that everything and everyone can be killed or destroyed it seems, and if the single/multiplayer game isn’t enough for you, you can create actual campaigns in the “DM Mode”. Want to create a story for your friends to journey through? Well you have the tools right at your fingertips, and it’s pretty detailed. I’m sure more will come in the future, but it’s a full, complete game at launch. I feel like many studios have forgotten how to do that. Want to just battle your friends? Head to the Arena Mode! It allows for mods as well! It’s an actual complete, full game at launch. The music is wonderful, the characters are fully fleshed out (even the Undead ones, hue hue) and Larian Studios delivered on all of their promises on this one. It has something for everyone. It has the classic experience (Classic), something a bit harder, where tactics are a must (Tactical Mode), something easy where you can just enjoy the story and explore (Explorer Mode), and the Hardcore, one-death mode (Honour) where if your party wipes, the file is deleted! Before DOS2, my last Divinity experience was on the Xbox 360 and I did not have quite as much fun there. I have to admit, I love this game.