Review: Divinity: Original Sin
What happened to games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights? What if somebody took those games, mixed them with a game like Diablo and threw in an editor?
This is what Larian Studios essentially had in mind with their Kickstarter funded title Divinity: Original Sin. Released on June 30, Divinity: Original Sin seemingly reawoke the D&D-Style game genre.
Divinity: Original Sin is actually part of a series called Divinity. However, the series has hosted different play styles throughout it’s life. Original Sin plays as a 3D, isometric party-based game like Baldur’s Gate. With two player-created characters, typically male and female, as part of an order called Source Hunters. They are summoned to an island to investigate a report of source-magic, a dangerous and evil magic that their order detests and seeks to destroy.
While investigating this source, many other problems present themselves, turning a small quest into a grand adventure, eventually filling out your party and finding themselves trying to save the world.
The main attraction of Divinity: Original Sin is the gameplay. Big and small, every piece of gameplay adds something to the game that makes it stand apart from it’s predecessors. Instead of just remaking games like Baldur’s Gate, Larian Studios has started in their roots and grown from them. Party and equipment management will be very familiar to fans of the genre, but it adds things like environmental hazards. Casting a lightning spell on an enemy in the rain will do more damage and give a higher chance to stun them. Similarly, shooting a fire arrow into a puddle of oil will catch anybody standing in it on fire.
Another notable overhaul is in party dynamics. Built to be available in multiplayer, the two main characters can actually argue on a point, eventually coming to a game of rock, paper, scissors to decide the winning dialogue choice. For those who prefer a single-player experience, this mechanic still presents itself, allowing a player to form their characters’ personalities separately, creating a stoic knight and a snarky thief that struggle with party cohesion instead of mindlessly following each other.
The visuals of Divinity: Original Sin are appealing with different armor progressively looking more and more badass as the levels climb. Magical effects are dazzling and rain storms that slowly arise like a real storm are definitely things to smile at. Animations involving conversation and skills are varied and not often recycled and the color pallet of the game is impressively broad, unlike games like Diablo at times.
The weakest part of Divinity: Original Sin however is the voice acting. It’s clear that most of the budget went into the visuals, and rightly so as the variety is nothing to bawk at. But when every citizen, important or otherwise, gives you the same greeting and farewell, it’s a little jarring in the immersion. For instance, while investigating a murder, it is found that the leader of the town guard may have something to do with it. After approaching the subject with him, he gets offended and yells for the party to get out of his office before he strings them up. Upon leaving the conversation he gives the heartiest, jolliest, “Bye!” as if all was well. A minor nuisance, but note-worthy nonetheless.
Divinity: Original Sin ships at $39.99 on Steam. As a big fan of the genre, this price point could possibly be worth it but it’s pretty well-known that the amount of existing fans is niche. Those who have never played such a game may second-guess at this price and end up skipping it. A mere $10 less would be a much more palatable price tag.
That being said, the replay value of the game is potentially infinite as it ships with the editor used to develop the game. This allows for custom-made stories to be posted on Steam Workshop. There is already a mod project that brings the entire original Diablo into Divinity’s engine. With multiple projects such as this, Divinity: Original Sin could be a modder’s paradise.
Fans of the genre will want to grab this ASAP as t scratches every itch. Those new to the genre may want to watch some videos and read some reviews (Hint hint!) to decide if it's worth the asking price.