Divinity Original Sin was originally a Kickstarter project by Larian Studios which was funded and released in 2014, it’s the 5th game in the Divinity franchise but is a prequel to the original which released in 2002 on PC called “Divine Divinity”.
It’s primarily an RPG franchise which has generated a positive reception among gamers and has done well to constantly evolved over the last 13 years, Original Sin is an isometric turn-based game with old school roots whilst looking modern and including features like co-op.
The Enhanced Edition represents Larian completing their vision for the game after the huge success of the Kickstarter with fully voiced characters, a new UI, controller support, new content including quests and characters, reworked story with a new ending and reworked visuals and sounds, this is a proper improved version of the base game which was enjoyed by so many on PC.
With the Enhanced Edition on Xbox One being my first exposure to playing the game I wasn’t sure what to expect but immediately I was impressed by the sharp visuals and art-style which makes the game look great, it has plenty of detail with nice effects and that straight away stood out for me. A great art-style is always welcome and it really shows here, outside of that the game runs well without any drops in frame-rate (that I noticed) and only very minor tearing when viewing the map.
I described it as having “old school roots” earlier which became clearer to me as I played, its isometric, party and turn-based, there’s not much hand holding, a deep story with character interactions and it encourages you to explore and discover the world. I say not much hand holding, there are quest markers on there but paying attention to conversations and checking your log as well as using your intuition is encouraged, leave no stone unturned and whilst you will be playing it for a long time there are plenty of quests and lots of adventure to be had (and XP and loot).
Being “old school” is not meant disparagingly though, the best RPGs for me offer freedom and variety with lots of exploration and side-quests which helps flesh out the world that usually gets a lot of attention to detail but can be easy to miss. This sort of experience will also allow you to level up quicker which will make things a bit easier. There are four difficulties available which give plenty of choice for how much of a challenge you want: Explorer (easier combat), Classic (“the classic divinity experience”), Tactician (harder combat with new enemy “tricks”) and Honor (one save file, die and its erased) which is nice for both more and less experienced players to play how they want, tactician mode sounds horrifying!
The game has two main characters which have a range of stats and appearances options you can customise, these two are form the main part of your party, when these two die you have to re-load even if other party members are still alive, of which you can have a group of four in total. My two main characters are Scarlett (warrior) and Roderick (mage) and early on I also found Madora (warrior) and Wolgraff (scoundrel) so whilst I am quite heavily leaning towards a sword based fighters I have Scarlett who can heal the others (along with Roderick) and Roderick knows both ice and fire attacks (with a few others) which give me a good amount of variety.
I have listed the type of speciality that my characters have but unlike many RPGs the game is actually classless, so just because you choose certain attributes at the beginning that doesn’t lock you in to a specific path with any character, you can mix and match stats to suit how you want to play which is nice as you can use level up points on a range different skills you give yourself extra options in (for example) healing and attacks.
There are three main sections to your stats: attributes, abilities and talents and levelling up dishes out various combinations of these different stats, it’s a detailed but not necessarily overly complex system although in abilities you have lots of skills to choose from which take a bit of time to understand as you don’t learn skills they are bought from other characters in the form of skill books which then add to your abilities and give you a nice big range. You also have traits which are determined by what you do and conversations between the two main characters and these give out bonuses to enhance your stats as well.
Your attributes define the core of what your players strengths including health, action point, offence/defence rating etc and abilities then decide more specific capabilities within 6 categories (weapons, defence, skills, personality, craftsmanship and nasty deeds) with lots of options for moulding your characters skill set.
The stat system might seem like a bit of a mouthful but its something you get used to and can work towards maximising, what is helpful about your attributes is that they can also be improved with equipping certain items which will give them a boost.
As with most RPGs for me I did find it took a while to feel invested in the game which was down to a number of things like having a full party, getting accustomed to the combat plus characters strengths/weaknesses and generally the beginning of stories in RPGs is the least exciting part and as you get used to everything at some point it will just click and you won’t even realise. It did take me a bit longer in Divinity Original Sin than something like The Witcher 3 but if I were to compare it to the likes of Dragon Age Inquisition I felt it took me roughly a similar time to feel like I was into it and once I am it’s a game I really enjoyed because of how well all the parts fit together.
Combat is turn-based in Original Sin, a departure from the franchises norm but is really well executed, as you’d expect characters both friend and foe take turns to make their moves and your actions are defined by the amount of action points you have. Everything you do uses action points, narrowing your choices until you have run out of point at which point you move to the next character, you can also end your turns early to save points for your next move(s). The attributes of your characters are crucially important here with perception defining how many points you start with, speed defining how many you gain per turn and constitution is your maximum amount of action points.
It’s not only attacking enemies which use up action points, using items and moving does too so there is a nice tactical element to it which needs to be considered to help you win in battle, sometimes it is better to attack once and save points, other times it is better to try to kill an enemy as quickly as possible. As well as attacks taking health there are various status effects like burning, freezing, poisoning, blinded, invisibility (and so on) which can effect your character and might need to be dealt with. I found there were a few times where my magic attacks actually gave health to my enemies so this needed consideration too and turned him into cheerleader elect and first-aider!
As a prequel it gives Larian Studios a chance to start the story wherever it suits them and its beginning is rather innocent, you have been summoned as Source Hunters by a wizard “Arhu” to investigate the murder of a local councilman, needless to say there a few twists and turns which set-up the larger story and you soon realise something more sinister is going on. The story is enjoyable with some good variety to the quests, there are sometimes some puzzles to solve which is nice but also a lot of enemy variety which means you need to have a diverse range of attacks in your party to combat them effectively.
One thing I wasn’t overly keen on was the UI, its fine when you are exploring and in-battle with a lot of customisation options for items and skills in the bar the bottom but it’s not very intuitive when looking at equipment and choosing which party member they would be useful for. You can send items between party members and the equipment screen lets you see each equipped item and choose from the available options but I still found it a bit awkward for checking through things quickly and efficiently. I also didn’t particularly like the trading screen, its nice that each person remembers what you sold to them incase you want them back later but it ends up being a huge list for both parties and it would be nice if it split the items up so its easier to see what the merchant has which is new and let me sort through my items more easily.
The log book which lists all of your quests is a bit weak too, you can press Y to filter between completed and un-completed missions but that’s it, as with the other UI complaints I had with the merchants it would be nice if I could have the story missions split out even with just a thin line and see all of the secondary quests separately, its not a huge problem but I feel it just throws information at you a bit and isn’t as intuitive as it could be.
Theres also some usual regular RPG tropes which feature like crafting, weapon durability, trading with merchants, stealing, pickpocketing, sneaking and a light conversation choice, using these will depend on how you want to play through it. The voices which were added for the Enhanced Edition are nice, I like how much effort they have gone to so they can offer the experience they really wanted to give players, the conversation options aren’t in the form of choices which affect the game but more a list of things to discuss and you can do them in whichever order you choose.
A nice feature is that it has drop-in drop-out co-op play both locally and online, you can do split screen or just have one for both players locally which is a nice option, when you go into co-op you join as one of your friends characters and take control of them. The game doesn’t take across your character though so you are playing for your friends save, they are then the “host” and can also decide what you are able to do with your character in terms of things like levelling up and trading, but it’s still a nice mode to play with someone else if you choose.
I’ve had a lot of fun with Divinity Original Sin, this has been a good year for RPGs as I played Dragon Age Inquisition in February, The Witcher 3 in June and more recently another Kickstarter success story Wasteland 2 got a Directors Cut and Fallout 4 just released. I would say I have enjoyed Divinity more than I did Dragon Age Inquisition, the exploration and quests are much more varied and rewarding, the detailed level system gives me a lot of choices for customising my character and then buying (or finding) skill books lets me focus each one more specifically on their strengths, loot is always fun to collect and the turn-based combat works really well.
Larian Studios have worked on the Divinity franchise for a long time which a few variations on the formula and this one has really worked for them. They have crafted a big enjoyable game which you will get many hours out of in the story alone with plenty of customisation and play through options available along with side-quests to keep you playing, it did take a little while for me to feel like I was really invested in the game and the UI could do with a bit of work but those minor issues shouldn’t put you off from enjoying this if you like RPGs, it’s definitely a worth checking out.
Divinity Original Sin 2 has already been announced as well with the Kickstarter campaign earning over $2m and is due to release on PC in December next year (as it stands).
- In-depth old school RPG
- Great combat and detailed world
- Looks great
- Plenty of quests
- UI is unintuitive in places