Upon starting up Divinity Original Sin the most obvious as well as being one of the most important things that stood out to me and I imagine to most, is the character customization menu. This is mandatory before going into the game as you would be foolish to simply pick the basic presets, as opposed to exploring what this selection has to offer.
The game offers you two characters to create, one being male and the other being female. Although the gender selection isn’t mandatory on equal rights as you could easily go full on “Bro-Force” or “Female-Frenzy” if you so desire. Neither of which is meaningful to the game’s story as much as it is unique to it’s gameplay. After deciding upon your character’s names you’re given a vast choice of character classes to base each of your characters on.
These include Rogue, Shadowblade, Wayfarer, Witch, Wizard, Battlemage, and a handful of plenty others to decide from. A short explanation is provided for each class and how they differentiate from each other when taking place in battle. Some specialize in close quarter combat, attacking at a distance, and staying well balanced.
While others are geared more towards quick and light attack methods, supporting roles such as the healer, practitioner of magic, or a combination of many. This gives a nice and welcoming impression of choice, and amongst these classes lie specific traits and attacks coupled by class attributes such as intelligence, dexterity, and constitution, which are ranked up through the use of experience points.
Most standard now to RPGs are the usual roster of appearance options such as the character’s voice, skin colour, head shape, hair colour, and the like. Playing from a top-down perspective in which you switch back and forth between your two characters, with the latter following close behind as you click the direction inwhich you wish for them to proceed.
The game has a real sense of journey and an adventurous feel to it. This is aided by its use of in-game audio that does a terrific job of presenting immersion and wonders, especially at the start of the game.
One thing I found unique about the way in which the game deals with controlling two characters is how they interact and hold conversations with each other. While it’s no Mass Effect, the characters do pay attention to objects of interest within the surrounding environment and comment on anything that may be of use.
Walking over a corpse as I trailed along a deserted beach I wasn’t particularly sure if my character’s dialogue about the fallen body was scripted or dynamic. Regardless, it’s a nice touch. They didn’t have much to say about looting his rain scrolls for the purpose of learning new spells however. Hey one’s a ranger the other’s a witch, we take what we can get.
Speaking with NPCs however switches between voice dialogue and text boxes, which provides the player with the opportunity to make decisions as well as finding out information on the environment, other characters in the game, and so on.
Different character classes react and conversate differently with NPCs and this is down to their personal attributes. When used correctly this may provide an advantage in certain situations and it does well in keeping the gameplay feeling dynamic.
While navigation and partner interaction seemed something of a friendly manner, combat on the other hand wasn’t quite so welcoming and for the most part not to enjoyable either. Where the game does things differently from other top-down RPGs is in it’s use of turn-based combat.
The combat itself is indeed interesting but for the first few battles it’s certainly something to wrap your head around, before you’re familiar enough with how it works exactly. What’s great about this style of combat and why it works so well with the large quantity of character class choices, is in it’s openness for exploration and creativity, and just exploring what works best for your combination and play style.
Depending on your chosen play style and character class, certain attacks and defensive positions may play out differently and produce various effects according to your character.
Playing as the ranger class for example I found one of my attacks to contain the properties of a 40% success rate in damage, a 10% penalty coming from my character’s lower strengths, an 8-turn cool down timer, and a 15.0m range in it’s distance. Similar to a card battle game.
While this may sound like a lot to take in at first and rightfully so it is, you do become fairly familiar with how and when to use the chosen attacks, and when it’s more beneficial to go with something else. Other means for combat include raising the dead to fight for you, remaining at a defensive and safe distance, and charging power towards a more powerful attack to be used at a given time.
As the game plays out in a turn-based style of combat each move you make is critical as it requires as certain amount of points. Moving your character around the map also counts towards the amount of points you have, so you may feel limited during the early encounters of the game. As other characters you meet in the game can potentially join you on your journey this shouldn’t be something to raise excitement for when going into combat.
But it should be noted that their actual usefulness in battle is quite subjective and their not exactly people you should be relying on, especially since you have no control over what they do.
It’s clear from the get go that your main priorities here are the characters you created, and whoever you shall come across is temporary to your goals within the game. Do battle, loot fallen enemies, and level the hell up.
Everybody else is but a hair on your ass cheeks and shouldn’t be taken seriously, nor does the game expect you too which is great. If going in solo isn’t something you wish to undertake fear not, as the game provides and online co-op mode all to make the game that much enjoyable.
As far as the difficulty of the combat goes it’s largely down to the player’s decisions in how well they equip and progress their characters. Yes enemies can be somewhat of a pickle in some instances, while in others situations they’re nothing but a fireball here and a wizard’s staff there. If it does prove to difficult or to weak in some cases, then there’s a choice of difficulty that the game can be set too.
Enemy types are critical in the role of just how difficult the game actually is as they’re just as diverse as your created characters. This is reflected within their attacks and how they work in combination with each other, and since they can fight large groups and odd numbers the player must stay alert and be smart about their decision making.
There’s a great focus on the strategy of the game’s turn based mechanics in battle and prepping before hand will yield you advantages. Moving on to the actual story of the game as that’s largely why you would play it, it’s nothing marvelous in the way of unique storytelling but it proves satisfying as a purpose for it’s gameplay.
To cut a long story short which is exactly how the game describes it to you. There were once a group of sorcerers who used a power known as source as a means for healing the sick, treating the wounded, and just providing a peace keeping service through out the land of Rivellon.
As one would expect from such a tale, darkness invaded the land and the once kind-hearted sorcerers are now tainted. Using the now dark powers of the source to destroy Rivellon it’s up to source hunters to put things right, which is where the player’s custom characters come in.
While I feel it’s fair to to say the story is passable it’s definitely not going to turn any heads as the most important part of the game is in it’s gameplay. When it comes to the visual aesthetics of Divinity Original Sin, I also feel it’s fair to say it’s just like every other top-down RPG.
As the most interesting aspects of these games come primarily from just how colourful and sparkly they can look, while paying attention to detail within it’s environment.
Also on its theme, which for the majority of RPGs tend to be middle-earth style villages filled with depressing villagers, along with magical forests run by mobster wizards and brute bosses of dragon and troll-like origins. Divinity Original Sin is more of the same, and depending on your preference or as some might say tolerance, this may not be a bad thing.
When taking a glance at the game from a technical standpoint you know right away you’re not in for a graphical showcase, but that doesn’t mean to say you’ll be looking at a toilet stain neither. Divinity Original Sin is a good looking game, and given it’s five graphical presets of very low ranging up to ultra, the only real differences between the selections are the amount of detail and objects being rendered in to the game.
Yes it does look noticeably prettier when ramping the preset up to ultra. Richer textures, draw distances, and the like are increased but there’s nothing here to tweak nor is there anything demanding about the actual game, and this is good news for those who simply wish to play the game on an ordinary laptop.
The game also runs smoothly regardless of the chosen preset and I experienced no lag or screen tears at any point in the game with V-sync set to Off. So where does Divinity Original Sin stand against other games of similar type and genre? Well for one thing it’s gameplay certainly gives it some strength, and the way in which it’s incorporated was greatly polished as it was incredibly thought out.
Secondly you would never have guessed it was funded as a Kickstarter backer, and when it’s compared to the majority of games from a Kickstarter origin it certainly says a lot about the differences of a game developed on a budget as opposed to that of a Triple-A title. Which in my mind is starting to switch roles when it comes down to what one would expect from the quality of the finished product.