Your donations keep RPGWatch running!

Divinity: Original Sin Review

by Corwin, 2014-09-29

The challenge in writing a review of this game is determining where to begin. I suppose I could delve way into the mists of history and discuss its origins via Divine Divinity, but I won't go there except to say I have loved the work of Swen and his team ever since those early days. Instead I'll just stick to this particular iteration of his vision and begin with character creation.


Character creation

As anyone who has paid even the slightest attention to this game will know, you get to create two characters to start the game and your choices are as wide and varied; simple, or complex as you wish them to be. You are provided with an assortment of templates which you can either use as a base for a character type, or you can change and modify them to your heart's content. Don't like the suggested starting spells for your Battlemage; change them; likewise his or her skillset. Almost every aspect of a character choice is totally customisable.

In fact, you not only have choices in their appearance, but also with their Attributes, Skills, Talents and Traits. Be sure to take your time here and tweak your character wisely.  This is a long game and while there are opportunities later on to make fundamental changes to these initial choices, it does come with drawbacks, and it costs precious gold.  The good news, however, is that you're not really locked into a specific path in this game as you can add new skills and talents whenever you level up. My suggestion is to experiment a little in the first part of the game to see what you enjoy playing. One other piece of advice would be to avoid doubling up as much as possible, especially early on, as you will need some degree of specialisation if you want to be successful. Each higher level of skill costs more points ie 2 points for level 2, 3 for level 3, etc and these points are limited.

Once character creation is complete you're ready to adventure and explore the land of Rivellon. I have both good news and bad; the game does not hold your hand; there are no 'marked' quest givers; quest locations are rarely marked on your map; you can easily walk into an area way beyond your ability to survive; everyone will talk to you, and many have quests for you; there's almost nothing which can't be interacted with, or stolen; steal at your own risk. I think you get the picture. This is an 'Old Skule' RPG.

 

The game has several distinct aspects which combine into something which is greater than the sum of its parts. There are massive areas to explore; there is the possibility to do very deep and powerful crafting, not only of weapons, armour and potions, but foodstuffs (including your favourite pizza), spells, skillbooks, magic items; the list is nearly endless. There are quests of all types; a story to follow; people to meet and interact with; animals to chat with (if someone has the 'pet pal' talent); and of course plenty of fast, tactical turn based combat.

 

Combat

Where would an rpg be without combat? Here there is plenty and fortunately, it's one of the outstanding strengths of the game. Everything is tactics, EVERYTHING. From your use of the terrain, the choice of weapons, spells, order, focus and various combinations of all of the above, you have to be continually aware of everything that is happening and plan ahead how you will deal with every eventuality. Let me offer a simple example. While a summoned water elemental will do good damage against a fire creature, it won't last long, but on the other hand, a summoned fire elemental won't do much damage in the same situation, but it will last a long time and perhaps prevent the fire creatures from attacking your main characters while they deal with someone (or something) else. Some enemies are healed by elemental attacks, while others are totally invulnerable to all attacks and must be avoided. The good news is that anything you can do to them, they can do to you and the AI is usually quite effective.

The magic system is quite robust. All your favourite spells are there in the five different schools, or areas of magic which anyone can learn if they wish to spend the skill points, but which reward those who focus on raising the necessary attributes and skills to make them most effective. Therefore, while you can have your low Intelligence warrior learn Witchcraft with only one skill point, she won't be very good at it and her spells will not do a great deal of damage. I found it helpful to have a mix of buffs, heals, summons and damage spells to make my casters effective.

While you create two characters yourself, you can have two additional companions or hirelings to assist you throughout the game. The best part of that is they don't cost you XP and as they level with you, you can control their development as well. It is strongly recommended that you make use of at least one of the available companions.

 

Looks and co-op

I found the UI quite functional and easy to use, though the inventory can be clumsy and sometimes cluttered. My main complaint was during buying and selling. For convenience I had only one character holding all the money which meant he had to buy for everyone (anyone could sell). However, when trying to do item comparisons only the initiator of the trade window's item would display for comparison. A minor complaint, but frequently an annoying one.

Graphically, the game was sound though not brilliant. I did find the limited camera movement, especially radially, to be a hindrance at times. I know there was a setting to change this, but as the game was not designed for a 360 degree camera movement, it had limited appeal. Fortunately, the graphics did not detract in any way from the gameplay, which was excellent.

 

Speaking of gameplay, one aspect I really enjoyed was the opportunity to play co-op with another player. This optional but extra dimension made the game almost a totally different (but still an extremely fun) experience. While I know there were a few dialogue window glitches early on, most have since been fixed. In fact, the ongoing support by the developers has been wonderful and they are to be highly commended for their efforts, especially early on after release when they were supposed to be taking a short holiday to recover.

 

Conclusion

I see I haven't yet mentioned puzzles, traps, hidden/secret areas, easter eggs, riddles, chests, dungeons, bosses and so much more. I won't; I leave all that either for others to write about, or for you to discover for yourself. The bottom line is that I consider Divinty: Original Sin to be the best, most enjoyable, complex, all-around fun game I have played in many years. I've been playing rpg's since the early days of Ultima and Bard's Tale and this would definitely be in my top five. Is it perfect? Of course not, no game could ever be perfect, but does it come close? Well, for me it does. What more can I say?

Box Art

Information about

Divinity: Original Sin

Developer: Larian Studios

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
World
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2014-06-30
· Publisher: Larian Studios

More information


Other articles

Summary

Pros

  • Old School Goodness
  • Turn Based Combat
  • Typical Larian Humour
  • Great Exploration
  • Everything is Interactive

Cons

  • Story is somewhat pedestrian
  • Camera Angles/movement is limited
  • Inventory management can be clumsy
  • Limited Companion choices

Rating

This review is using RPGWatch's old style of rating. See 'How we review' link below

Review version

Opinions from other editors

Couchpotato -"Divinity: Original Sin is the best game I played this year, and it revived my hope in turn-based RPGs. The game deserves a solid 5/5, and Larian Studios should be proud of their achievement."

Aubrielle - "Divinity: Original Sin is what a classic RPG looks like. This is what can happen when a game is crafted lovingly by a team of serious RPG fans. When our generation is old and feeble and rotting away in our rocking chairs, we'll be reminiscing about Divinity: Original Sin. An instant and immortal classic."

Myrthos - "Even with some of the features missing when it was released, Divinity: Original Sin was already the best game I've played in years. With the ongoing support of Larian Studios for it and future mods, Original Sin will be a game I can play for the coming years as well."