Larian’s partially Kickstarted PC RPG, Divinity: Original Sin, comes to the next gen systems in this Extended Edition. Is it worth your time?
Game: Divinity: Original Sin – Extended Edition
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Reviewed on: (review code provided by publisher)
I’ll be honest, this is one of the toughest reviews I’ve had to write for NGB, mainly because I’ve had to pull myself away from actually playing the game for long enough to put some words down about it. The TL/DR review, then is – I think Original Sin is a tremendous RPG that is well worth your time if you like this kind of thing. Obviously I can’t leave this review at just one paragraph – you want some detail as to why I’m recommending this compelling game to you. Let’s be having it, then…
At first glance, Original Sin appears to be an ARPG in the mould of games like Diablo and Torchlight, played from a top down perspective. That’s how I went into it, expecting monsters and loot galore, but found myself surprised to find a more traditional RPG game. You control a party of up to four characters, initially composed of two characters you mould through the character creator at the start of the game. The story starts off fairly straightforward – your two default characters are Source Hunters – sort of magic police. they’ve been sent to the town of Cyseal to investigate the murder of a government official but soon find stranger things afoot with marauding Orcs, a plague of the Undead and a doomsday scenario at the end of time.
Story wise, Original Sin is fun, playing with fantasy tropes in a rather silly, almost Discworld/Fable kind of way. A particularly interesting gameplay element which helps with the narrative is the fact that your two main source hunter characters can actually converse, with the player leading both sides of the discussion. This allows you to actually roleplay conversations, debates and arguments between them which, in turn, defines their characteristics and perks. Turning your two main party members into a pair of squabbling teenagers has never been so fun. As you progress, you can pick up extra members for your party. These members often come with their own sidequests and will offer to assist you in yours if you will help them in theirs. This adds in another interesting gameplay layer; who do you partner up with? Choosing characters often comes down to trying to round out your party with abilities you are missing, such as someone proficient in ranged attacks or magic, so this is not something to rush into.
A lot of the first few hours of the game will be spent in Cyseal; indeed, guards at the city gates will recommend you don’t venture into the wilds until you are sufficiently levelled up which gives you plenty of chance to talk to characters, take things in and keep on with the task at hand – the murder of Councillor Jake. As you investigate this you’ll start to unlock further quests; Original Sin is certainly not a linear game. It encourages and rewards exploration; look in every chest, crate and jar you can and you’ll often find something useful. Talk to people and you’ll more likely than not find something new to do. This loose structure does, however, come at a price; it is very easy to get in over your head early on in the game.
Combat plays in a turn based way; anything you do in combat uses action points. Characters take turns based on their initiative; once one player uses all their action points (or if the player decides they’ve done all they can) then play moves to the next character and so on until the order loops back around. While there is a sneaking skill which can be used out of combat to attempt evasion of enemies, you can find yourself, for example by snooping around the Cyseal graveyard, going up against enemies beyond your ability. Thank goodness, then, for the quick save feature which has been a lifesaver on more than one occassion. Retracing loads of play time isn’t fun!
We’ve not talked about the visuals yet and Original Sin is certainly a looker. The world is beautifully realised with lighting and weather effects playing over the landscape. There is a particularly nice effect where scenery will fade in and out when your characters vanish behind it which not only allows you to keep your bearings well, but also lends the dungeons a real sense of depth and scale, something of an achievement for a top down game. Control wise, the move to consoles has been wonderfully realised with a lot of controller shortcuts helping the player use the limited number of buttons available. One particularly welcome feature is the ability to hold the X button and spread out a search region, picking up or searching any objects that fall within this area.
Despite a steep learning curve which could intimidate non RPG fans, Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition is a surprising game. It’s been translated flawlessly to consoles, is a beautiful game to look at and has enough humour and character to suck you into its sprawling story.