Successfully funded on April 27th 2013 on Kickstarter, Larian Studios latest RPG Divinity: Original Sin is a well polished and fun experience from start to finish, making it one of the best RPG experiences of 2014 so far.
Divinity: Original Sin is a prequel to the events of the first Divinity game, Divine Divinity. Players play as a pair of source hunters, vigilantes whose mission is to track down and rid the world from the dark forces of magic.
The game’s narrative is nothing special, you initially begin tracking down and investigating mysterious the activities of a mysterious group of mages before becoming embroiled in a greater conspiracy that threatens the land. However, with the abundance of side quests and activities to do, the main storyline becomes largely a second thought as players are thrown into the land of Rivellon and left to their own adventures.
Divinity: Original Sin, isn’t a visually stunning game; the title is mostly played from a zoomed out perspective and as such, there isn’t any extreme levels of detail on the world’s objects. The game’s environments, while lacking in extensive detail, are brought to life by the many interactive objects on screen. While the game’s bright visuals and saturated color pallet might not appeal to everyone, it strongly encourages exploration of the world which befits the game’s adventurous tone. Just don’t expect to see any awe inspiring landscapes.
The game begins with players customizing their source hunters. Character customization is fairly solid, with players being able to customize their character’s classes, abilities and general overall look . However, don’t expect to customize your character’s in deep detail for example their muscle sizes or the shape of their mouths.
There are 11 different starting classes to choose from and their diversity adds a lot of depth to the gameplay. There are straight-forward classes like the melee powerhouse fighters, specialist classes in certain elements like the wizard and then there are hybrid classes like the healing warrior clerics. The variety of classes lends Divinity: Original Sin great replayability and diversity as a whole. These classes are customizable by adding points to their attributes, skills and abilities, all of which have a profound effect on the gameplay both in and outside of combat.
Combat is where the game really shines. Divinity: Original Sin utilizes an isometric turn-based combat system. Any actions that a player take drains Action Points (AP), which in turn can be stored up to enable multiple attacks or abilities within a single character’s turn. The game’s environments play a major role in combat as they are able to be interacted with. For instance, if you see a pool of oil, you can light it up with a fireball spell and watch your enemies burn in the blazing inferno.
The environmental interactivity makes gameplay highly engaging and rewards strategic thinking, but that isn’t the end of environmental strategy, Larian Studios takes this deep and satisfying combat even further with elemental effects. Want to freeze your enemies more easily and cause some mayhem? Use a rain spell to get them and the area they are standing on wet and then freeze the ground and watch them turn into ice statues and slip on the frozen floor.
Character positioning has a profound effect in combat; flanking positions provides characters increases in accuracy and attack damage which is a nice finishing touch to the game’s combat mechanics.
Divinity: Original Sin also has a robust crafting system where players can collect materials scattered around the world or dropped by monsters which can then be used to craft new items. However, unlocking item crafting can only be achieved by locating the many crafting recipes scattered across the world, encouraging exploration and interactivity between players and the many npcs and objects in the world.
Divinity: Original Sin allows players to play as each of the two members of the party separately, making each of the two source hunters feel like two separate playable characters. This gives players greater choice in molding each character’s personalities which can lead to some very humorous conversations. As a result, it makes the two characters feel more like their own unique individual, with their own sense of morals, personalities and beliefs.
With so much content and deep gameplay, Divinity: Original Sin offers players a lot of activities to do; however, the game unfortunately fails to ease and familiarize players into its gameplay’s staggering depth. The optional tutorial dungeon scratches only the surface of the gameplay mechanics and isn’t explored in depth, leaving players blind to the true level of complexity that the game has. Divinity: Original Sin has an exponential learning curve and the game does very little to guide new players.
Divinity: Original Sin also has a online co-op mode which comprises of two players in the campaign and four through mods to the game providing by the game’s modding community. The cooperative campaign allows each of the two players to control one of the two source hunters in the party, making the development of each character truly feel like those of another individual as any progression made is saved on to the host’s game. Character development feels more prevalent in multiplayer as control of one of the characters is given to another player allowing them provide their own unique spin on a party member.
The game does have its fair share of bugs, and this has lead to a infrequent number of game crashes and resets. The most prevalent encounter of one I experienced was within one of the game’s many loading screens upon the transition between areas within the game.
The Verdict: 8.1 out of 10
Divinity: Original Sin is an excellent call back to old school RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and from start to finish was a fun adventure with a deep strategic combat system backed up by fantastic role playing mechanics. While it does have it’s fair share of performance issues and the game’s difficult learning curve is a strong obstacle to overcome for newcomers, underneath it all lies an excellent role playing experience and an adventure that lays out a world filled with tons of activities to do and plenty to explore.
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This review is based on a game that was independently purchased at full retail price. The reviewer has played 20-25 hours of this game on PC.