Archive | August 2014

Summary Judgment: Divinity: Original Sin

For a long time, I considered the CRPG to be something of an endangered species in the PC gaming world. Sure, we had our Dragon Age and our Witcher, but even among those hits it felt like certain compromises to modernity were being made in a way that diluted the experience. Sure, the old ways were around, but they were hidden, buried titles that only the devoted could find, disciples of a style of game that seemed rapidly diminishing.

2014-07-14_00001

            Then there’s Divinity: Original Sin. A classic, turn-based CRPG in the truest sense, Divinity is a romp through a lighthearted fantasy world with two protagonists in an adventure of cosmic proportions. Along the way, you’re able to gain a staggering amount of skills and abilities, all of which play out in useful practical ways when it comes to how the player approaches problem solving scenarios.

            Divinity is a game that knows what it is and loves itself for it. It never takes itself, the player, or the genre too seriously, and it knows exactly how hard to make an encounter to keep the player paying attention but never completely in control. Enemies will whiff arrows into cliffs and set off explosives next to their friends just as much as I did, and the whole thing has a kind of comedic haphazardness to it that even a basic encounter can be challenging and hilarious.

2014-08-01_00001

            Enhancing all of this is the way the storytelling is executed, showing you the world through the eyes of two Source Hunters, tailor made by you before the game begins . The interaction between these two is the key to the game’s story; even when playing alone, you’ll have opportunities to trigger interaction between your party members, and many of the game’s story events and conversations will require input from both heroes. On top of that, this input occurs in a way that can cause personality shifts with real gameplay consequences to both the world and your characters, encouraging you to find a personality that resonates with your gameplay and to stay consistent about it.

            Combat is methodical chaos that plays out like the best Dungeons and Dragons encounters. Each character in the combat takes turns using up their action points through a variety of skills and attacks, often making combat a nice balancing act of deciding between expensive major actions or multiple cheap movements or skills. My one complaint is with the interface, which interprets all context-absent clicks as movement orders, oftentimes causing accidental movement when trying to click an attack on an enemy’s model. It could’ve been easily fixed by requiring the issuing of a specific command for movement as an action during combat instead of just defaulting to it, and it’s a curious flaw that this wasn’t thought of when so many similar turn-based games use a similar system.

            Divinity is a labor of love that is an absolute joy to play to completion. The often frantic pace of combat coupled with the jovial, magically comedic storytelling and atmosphere make Divinity: Original Sin a must have experience for anyone who loves fantasy, co-op multiplayer, or combat that requires planning and strategy. Bring a friend, warm up your quicksave button, and be prepared to have a tale or two to tell to your friends when you’re done. As CRPGs go, Divinity proves that you can go home again.

            Divinity: Original Sin is available for PC on Steam and GOG, and costs $39.99 at the time of writing.

Advertisements