Divinity: Original Sin
Adventure, Role-Playing Game, Turn Based Strategy
June 30, 2014
The tune that plays when Divinity: Original Sin starts up is hauntingly beautiful, tinged with sadness yet full of hope. And it sums up the game perfectly. When Larian Studios ventured onto Kickstarter asking for funds to complete this game and expand its scope, tongues of RPG (Role-Playing Game) enthusiasts around the world were set wagging in anticipation of the promise it offered. Role-playing a character whose interactions with their partner could have lasting consequences was quite an interesting concept.
Divinity: Original Sin is an isometric RPG that lets you roam the world as you would in an ARPG, but switches to a deeply tactical turn based combat system if you enter into a fight. You start off with a couple of source hunters that you can role play on your own, or have a friend control one in co-op mode. You can expand this relatively weak party to 4 characters eventually, and this is recommended if you want to have an easier time in combat. You run the risk of ending up with Split personality disorder if your chosen character builds require opposite viewpoints, which is why having a friend along is the best way to experience this game.
The game looks rather nice and lets you zoom in quite close to the detailed characters. The game world is richly populated with potential loot drop locations that change every time you load up a save. There are even some items scattered in the open that become easier to spot on pressing the Alt key. Names for all but the Unique items are randomly generated from a list it seems, but they describe the items quite aptly. Items can be stolen by sneaking, but one can face trouble if caught. Repeat offenders will end up having to wipe the map of all life and this sort of extreme step is only viable once one has reached the highest skill levels.
Talking with every character and animal you meet is a great way to get familiar with the lore and happenings of the world, especially if one is not familiar with the previous Divinity games from Larian, some of which are slyly advertised in certain conversations. The lore is also expanded through Books and Parchments that one can read. Animals require one to have the pet pal ability and can usually give helpful hints or warnings about dangerous foes. Some dialogue options can open up side quests for the player to undertake, and sometimes the dialogue options persist even after the quest has been completed. One can also barter with most Non Player Characters (NPCs) and can get a better deal when more skill points are invested in it. This is needed if one wishes to learn new skills quickly from skillbooks that can take quite a lot of exploring to craft.
Inventory and Skill management are the biggest timesinks in this game as you cannot select multiple item types and must move around one item at a time. Though you can have multiple windows and backpacks open, to make this process less painful, it can be annoying when your careful organisation is thrown out the window in the bartering screen. Items of the same type can group together in certain cases but can sometimes refuse to merge. To separate them one can drag with the Shift key pressed and choose the quantities to divide. However there is no numerical input, which can make it tedious to properly divide large quantities, especially the Gold currency used by the game.
The game uses books, parchments, notes and skillbooks to unlock recipes and spells. One can craft quite a few items based on recipes learnt from the books though experimenting by randomly combining two items in the inventory can also work. However, these discovered recipes are not added to the list which seems to only contain extracts from the books. Notes and maps can also reveal secrets that can sometimes aid in progressing the player through an area. However, one could locate most secrets if the perception stat is high enough. Spells can be cast using scrolls that one finds on their journey, but these can only be learned by using a skillbook. Your attribute level in a certain skill determines the number of spells you can learn. Spells can cost more action points in combat if the attribute level is low.
Speaking of Combat, one should expect a highly tactical turn based affair with every participant getting a chance to perform actions based on their initiative. One can delay one’s turn to let other move first or flee combat, though you must do so on an individual character basis. You get action points to move, attack, use spells or items form the inventory or to resurrect a fallen comrade. You can place shortcuts to spells and items on a 5 tier spell bar which may seem like overkill at the start but quite skimpy once you hit the level cap. Action points can be affected by the various buffs on your character as well as their stats. Not all enemies are affected by all spells and one might end up healing an enemy if a certain spell type is conducive to them. Such enemies are highly vulnerable to the opposing element of the spell type. You can use Melee, Ranged and Magic weapons as per the build and composition of your party. You can also summon elementals and allies to help you in combat. However, it can sometimes be hard to properly target an enemy due to blockage by characters or environmental objects.
The Game’s maps are filled with enemies of varying difficulties that act as a natural barrier to your progress till you have levelled up enough to easily take them out. This helps in guiding you along the proper quest path though the game leaves it entirely up to you to explore and find the various quests. You can rotate the camera to see game world objects better, though the standard camera for the main campaign is locked to a limited range. The game map only shows the locations of important landmarks and secrets, but the minimap can also show other NPCs and their attitude towards you. Fast Travel can happen using waypoints and teleporter pyramids and there’s a handy button to let you do so from anywhere when not in combat. There are no huge exclamation points over quest givers, who might be forthcoming only when asked, though these ‘!’ can be seen when characters in your party want to comment on something that just happened. These conversations can sometimes result in your characters gaining traits, so it is important to manage these to suit your character’s build. One can end up in an argument between characters or with NPCs with neither willing to budge, and these are then solved by a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors partly influenced by the character’s charisma.
Divinity: Original Sin’s story starts out as a routine quest to investigate a murder, but immediately hints that something more sinister is brewing beneath the surface. You will soon learn not to judge the NPCs by their first appearances and to trust no one but your main characters. After all, they do have a sense of greatness and destiny about them, though they may not recognise it yet.
One must make special note of the exceptional soundtrack of the game. Kirill Pokrovsky has composed some brilliant pieces which can resonate with you long after you’ve stopped playing the game. Though it is known that quit a few tracks have been remastered from older Divinity games due to some issues, the Musical score of the game is quite top notch and it hits you right from the Main Menu.
Divinity: Original Sin is a shining example of what happens when a good development team and the community get together to finish a promising game. The game also comes with mod tools to let the community keep expanding on it long after the main story line has been exhausted. This is one of those few RPGs that you want to play in Co-Op with a friend despite the huge time investment that entails. We pick this game for the iLL Editor’s Choice award.
+Co-operative Role Play
+Encourages Exploration and directs player through difficulty based barriers
+Interesting Storyline that hooks you.
+Solid Gameplay Mechanics that keep you playing for hours
-Inventory management is poorly implemented
-Default Field of View causes problems in interacting with certain objects
-Discovered Crafting Recipes are not automatically added to your Recipe list