Release Date: September 14, 2017
Price: $44.99 (Definitive Edition)
Rating: M (Mature)
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows (Steam), Nintendo Switch
What's It About?
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is the latest RPG in the long running Divinity franchise by Larian Studios. The game takes place in the world of Rivellon, where practitioners of an ancient magic known as Source (sourcerers) are being persecuted by a malicious Divine Order. Throughout the course of the game, you will journey across the treacherous lands of Rivellon, meet a cast of diverse characters, and battle all manner of terrible foes.
I’m going to be upfront with you; Divinity: Original Sin 2 is fantastic, so I’m going to have mostly positive things to say about it. The game has been my latest obsession, but I’ll try my best to maintain an unbiased outlook on it. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with the gameplay.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an isometric RPG with its roots in Pen-and-Paper games like Dungeons and Dragons. Everything from the character progression to the way you interact with the world is very similar. In fact, there’s even a “Game Master Mode ” that basically replicates an actual D&D session.
If I had to pick one word to represent this game, it would be “freedom”. From the outset, you’re allowed to create any kind of character you could imagine, down to the most minute attributes. You can also recruit up to three party members from a predetermined roster of characters, and they are fully customizable as well. This sort of liberty permeates every facet of Divinity: Original Sin 2. There’s a main storyline to follow, of course, but how you choose to go about it is up to your own judgement. For example, the first act of the game has you trapped on the island prison of Fort Joy, with your only goal being to escape. However, there are a multitude of ways you could accomplish this, from stealth to brute force. You’d be hard pressed to find any two people who have had the exact same experiences with this game. The amount of freedom and experimentation on offer adds an immense amount of replayability to an already massive RPG. Seriously, you could probably play this game forever if you really wanted to.
Combat in Divinity: Original Sin 2 is turn-based and tactical in nature. You’re given a wide variety of spells and abilities based on the attributes you choose to specialize in. One of the key components of combat is utilizing your environment effectively. That’s another thing about this game; it’s also sort of a sandbox. Interacting with your surroundings is a key part of it. See a puddle of oil on the ground? Throw a fireball at it and watch your enemies become engulfed in flames. Or, maybe electrocuting wet surfaces to damage anyone nearby is your forte. There are also things such as elevation to take into consideration; having the higher ground will give your ranged attackers a damage boost, but having the low ground will result in a damage reduction. There’s a lot more depth to the combat than what I have described, but that should give you an idea of what to expect from it. Overall, it’s very engaging and immensely satisfying.
The story is also a definite highlight. It’s a pretty dark one for the most part, but it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s plenty of humor and silliness to complement the heavy nature of the plot. Without spoiling anything, your player character is known as a “Godwoken,” a Sourcerer who is capable of communing with the seven Gods of Rivellon. Your goal is to become the next “Divine” and seal the rift between Rivellon and the Void, from whence monstrous creatures are invading the land.
The main story itself has plenty of interesting beats, but I found myself even more interested in the backstories of the various party members you can recruit. Each one has their own tale that slowly unravels throughout the course of the game, and the camaraderie that develops among your merry band is an aspect I really enjoyed. While the story doesn’t do anything too unique or innovative within the realm of high-fantasy, there’s still a lot to enjoy here.
An incredible amount of attention-to-detail went into Divinity: Original Sin 2; little things that just add up to make the overall package much better. Characters will react to you differently depending on your race and appearance. If you decide to play an Undead character, be prepared to walk around towns with a bucket over your head for the first few hours unless you want to be attacked on sight. Being an Undead isn’t all bad though; you can still pick locks with your fingertips! There are numerous other little details like that, and they truly do add up to make the experience more memorable as a whole.
I do have a couple of minor complaints with the game. For one thing, the inventory management could have used some improvement. Loot is a big part of Divinity: Original Sin 2, so you’re going to end up with a lot of different items to keep track of as you progress. The simple act of searching through your bag for a piece of armor you picked up can be a chore. There is an auto-sort feature which separates items by category, but I still feel that the whole thing needed an overhaul.
Quest management is another thing I felt needed a touch-up. I get that the developers were trying to hearken back to the old days of CRPGs by making the quest descriptions very vague, and I’m sure that’s part of the appeal to many people. But to me, it just stood in stark contrast to the other, more modern aspects of the game. All too often I found myself not knowing how to carry on with a particular questline simply due to a lack of information about it. It’s certainly not a dealbreaker or anything, but just be prepared to do some sleuthing from time to time in order to progress. If possible, I’d recommend taking advantage of the game’s multiplayer functionality and playing through it with a buddy. As they say, two (or four) heads are better than one.
There’s nothing about this game that stands out as blatantly horrible, but there is one thing that can be quite ugly depending on who you are; this game is pretty gory. Nothing is shown in super explicit detail, but be prepared to see a lot of blood. I’m not typically a squeamish person, so excessive blood doesn’t bother me . However, I recall a particular dungeon which was comprised of walls of decomposing bodies, and that was more than enough to make my stomach churn a little bit. Obviously this is an M-rated game, so just be forewarned if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 truly is an amazing game. In a lot of ways, it’s an RPG lover’s dream. Boundless customization, a fascinating world to explore, and a plethora of content make it an incredibly engaging experience. If you’re even remotely interested, I really can’t recommend the game enough. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Divinity: Original Sin 2, and it’s sure to cement itself as a classic of the RPG genre in the years to come.