Reviewing Divinity: Original Sin 2 – And How to Fall in Love With RPGs Again
We’ve all played them – the grandiose role-playing games that evoke a sense of wonder, scintillate and challenge the mind, and give us a world so rich and bright we bask in them like we would our own private island.
Then we grow up, the world shapes us, our attitudes change, and we wonder – were these games really that good, or was the perfect storm of circumstances that simply made us think that way?
It’s time to stop doubting and fall in love again. Divinity: Original Sin 2 by Larian Studios is here, and it is not playing. All those RPG pretenders, somewhere between Planescape: Torment and now? False prophets and charlatans – and now that Dad’s home, it’s time to get serious.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 exists in a time before, alongside grand RPGs like Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, the Ultima series, and yes, even Planescape: Torment. It is the kind of RPG where the story, combat, writing, and voice acting weave together to create a blanket so cozy, you’ll never part with it. There is no pretense, lessons to be learned, or gimmicks to gawk at –- just a very good game, with a very sincere soul.
Sitting front and center, the game’s core feature is its narrative. Your choice of a structured storyline of an “Origin” character or a custom-made destiny is the first choice of many, as are characters that break traditional expectations –- sophisticated Lizards, Elven slaves, and, well, the humans are always dicks. Exposition is short, but character interactions much longer, and while they're at times verbose, you are never fully separated from that dialogue as a player, and it always feels worthwhile to take part.
The combat system’s premise is simple, but layered –- a turn based fare, where you interact with the environment, and it interacts with you. Combine rain and electricity to create pools of walking free-shots, but mind that the enemy doesn’t bleed cursed blood in the wrong spot, lest the entire terrain turn on you faster than you can say “what’s Necrofire?”
Speaking of - performance in this game
is also a boon. The engine is optimized well, and all manner of
environmental and visual effects can play at once without stress,
even on older machines.
The only dour note this game has is its use of music. It is only notable because of its absence -– the music fits the world and the world fits the music -– but it never transfixes you on a cutscene, inspires you forward in battle, or does anything other than… quietly exist. That’s not the worst thing, to be sure, but the soundtrack could be given some room to breathe.
A word of warning: Divinity’s difficulty is no trifle, as the “hard” setting, Tactician Mode, is exactly that. During the early hours of the game as you struggle to find your bearing, to equip your characters with their requisite gear and try to game the system as best you can, Divinity instead sits you down, slaps the frozen yogurt from your hand, and as you reach for your spoon on the floor, it bellows a “NO!” You are made to earn every small victory, and boy, does it make it taste sweeter.
All-in-all, Divinity: Original Sin 2 proves to be well worth the price point of $44.99, a game to be heralded into the annals of RPG history alongside its peers, with a real meat to it –- a rich amount of game, and very little else. Larian Studios has done well for itself, and you could too, if you have a month of spare time lying around.
Images: Larian Studios