Published on July 23rd, 2014 | by Eldon Tsan1
[Game Review] Divinity: Original Sin (PC)
Summary: Divinity: Original Sin, a game that contains all classic elements of cRPGs, is a rare gem in today's sea of Newgrounds flash games and triple A garbage on Steam.
The cRPG genre has recently seen a revival with the release of Divinity: Original Sin. Larian Studios’s newest title, Divinity: Original Sin attempts to stay true to the old cRPG formulas and provide for the player a game that has very limited handholding, and shockingly enough, it’s actually an incredibly solid cRPG that you can easily get your money’s worth out of in regards to length of the game itself.
Fans of the cRPG genre should feel right at home in regards to Divinity: Original Sin’s gameplay. There is very little in the way of handholding when it comes to questing, and often you’ll be stumbling through the game trying to find out where you need to go in order to complete quest chains. I really love this because it results in much more satisfaction when completing a quest because you feel smart for discovering where to go, and lorewise it makes much more sense because if you’re trying to find lost ancient treasure, there really shouldn’t be a reason as to why you’re given a quest marker detailing where to go immediately. A lot of quests aren’t readily available for completion for players as well, which is also a good feature. For example, one quest had you trying to find a cat’s fancy collar so that he can show a girl cat that he has money, and I backtracked through previous levels to find it. However, the collar was actually in an optional (I think) dungeon that I didn’t have access to until maybe three or four hours after receiving the quest initially. A lot of the quests wrap themselves up nicely while simply progressing through the game, and that’s incredibly satisfying.
Combat resembles most turn-based strategy games that have been released recently but without grids for movement, so it resembles something more like Omerta: City of Gangsters rather than XCOM. I don’t particularly enjoy the movement system because grids result in much more accurate movement, but I guess it allows for more freedom when moving which is fine. Much of the turn-based strategy’s combat systems are in place such as attacks of opportunity, RNG when hitting, and the use of action points when using abilities. It’s not particularly innovative, but it gets the job done, although I wished Divinity: Original Sin would copy Expeditions: Conquistador’s approach to melee where melee characters will never miss so that melee combat makes more sense and is more consistent. A lot of different combat abilities are in the game as well, so there’s many different ways you can build your character to fight.
As far as RPGs goes, Divinity: Original Sin does a very good job of letting you customize your characters as well as roleplay. Right off the bat, you create the two characters that you will have in your party for the entire game, and the amount of customization options are endless due to the number of classes that are available to you as well as the ability to modify the classes any way you want. Dialogue is akin to most cRPGs where you pick a dialogue choice from a list. There is some voice acting in this game, but most dialogue doesn’t have it which is great because I skip through dialogue after reading it anyway.
I would honestly say that the biggest strength of this game is the amount of content you get. Playing through the story easily takes a minimum of 30-40 hours if you’re a competent player, but I’ve seen playthrough statistics where players take almost 100 hours to complete the story for the first time. There’s just so much to do in this game, and it’s a surprise considering the average length of games these days.
There are a couple of things that, while not incredibly impactful to the overall experience of the game, I view negatively. My first issue would be the amount of companions with personality you can have in your party. There are only two party members that you can recruit that have a personality. You can hire henchmen who will be a part of your party, but they are exclusively designed for combat rather than something you can interact with. Lack of party members is probably due to the budget of the game since it was Kickstarted, but it does feel disappointing that there aren’t more party members that have personalities since Larian does a good job at creating fun characters.
The other issue I have with the game is the existence of the second creatable main character in the game. When choosing dialogue, there will be times where you will choose dialogue choices for both of the characters. This feels incredibly awkward because you can choose conflicting sides when having an argument, and as a result it feels as though you were playing chess or Magic the Gathering against yourself. Sure, it’s possible to play like that, but it just feels weird because you know what both sides are thinking so the element of surprise is gone. I think the dual dialogue choices are meant for co-op play, but I really would’ve preferred if the single-player just had one main character and another party member with an actual personality.
Divinity: Original Sin is a surprising gem in modern PC releases not only because of how niche the actual gameplay is but also of the overall quality of the game. I honestly have no idea how it has been so well-received and successful considering the average person probably isn’t into cRPGs, but it does give me hope for the future that games can be successful without requiring the need to dumb down the gameplay, and that is probably the biggest thing to come out of this title.
For gameplay footage, click here.
Available on: PC; Publisher: Larian Studios; Developer: Larian Studios; Players: 1-2; Released: June 30, 2014; ESRB: N/A; MSRP: $39.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.