A first impressions review of Divinity: Original Sin.
the awesome stuff
++ cRPG mindset! Quests have depth, is a good source of EXP and no quest markers, the game expects you to experiment. Stuff simply occurs logically in this game no matter how harsh it is. Don’t be surprised to see generic orcs chugging potions when they’re hurt, or bombs not exploding because of the rain (or when they do because a reliable fire source triggers it)
++ AP turn-based gameplay. My first impression in combat was actually similar to classic Fallout and Arcanum. Funnily enough, character creation is highly reminiscent of the classic Fallout games, complete with traits as perks.
++ Two main characters with independence, co-op dialogue and more. You can role play to the point that the characters feel as if they have distinct personalities, and the game rewards you with bonuses for doing so. The independence part is refreshing since you could literally have one character chatting at the local Inn while the other is sneaking around the other side of the city. And yes, switching between them is as seamless as AD&D games like Baldur’s Gate.
++ Smartly creative. The game offers things that aren’t shown as features, but they work because it makes sense. For instance, you could have one character to talk to the NPC while the other steals stuff right under his nose, or situations like a fiery explosion causing smoke, which prevents units from seeing through, or perhaps you couldn’t unlock that crate? Just bring it with you! Heck, feel free to bash it open with magic or brute force.
the good stuff
+ In addition to above, abilities have great potential to synergize with each other. Fire can cause water to evaporate, and you can shoot lightning to the resulting cloud for an AOE shock. A misfired poison bomb can be made to explode if any kind of fire is added (including burning characters!) and so on.
+ Crafting is point and click adventure style, just combine two items together to produce something. This even has interesting combos, such as filling a cup with water, mixing with flour to produce dough, then smashing a tomato using a hammer (really) to produce tomato sauce, and mix that to make pizza dough.
+ For a cRPG, this game is really beautiful in its details. The added bonus? The items you can interact with also blend well with the environment. Even for the stuff that you place by yourself!
= The loading times take a while, but the game world that’s loaded is huge and has little to no loading transitions.
= You can scum saves, XCOM style. I think that’s a bad thing, but hey, I think it’s useful because the interface sucks.
– The interface and user experience is very clunky. It takes multiple keypresses to get to do things, and the game feels sluggish while doing it. As you’d expect, the inventory management in this game is horrible.
– This game requires a lot of patience, I consider it fine, but others would be turned off into playing because they’re spoiled by modern game design. As for the patience part, here’s a perspective: I’ve restarted and recreated my characters thrice, I can’t venture outside the starting city because the monsters outside are 1 to 2 levels higher and you’ll need to do quests before that… On a pair of characters with slow movement speed (but considered normal if you took the scale of the city and normal walking speed in mind)
- The engine is poorly optimized. I can play the game in Ultra, sure, but the performance hit makes the game a chore. Annoyingly enough, lowering the graphic quality didn’t help at all.
- The plot feels uninspired. It’s littered with tropes and is plainly uninteresting at first. The individual quests are nice, but it lacks an overall direction for the main plot.
- Since the game is strictly logical in the way it works, expect to be frustrated once the enemies turn it against you. Yes, even in Normal difficulty.
My verdict: If you’re a patient gamer or a fan of cRPGs, this game is for you. The nostalgia is refreshing, and seeing a game that respects your intelligence and patience feels really rewarding.
Conversely, rushing through the game, wanting to just have fun from the get-go will have you punished in-game. And yes, it will be frustrating.
If you’re not convinced, check out Giantbomb’s Quick Look on this game, as it fully covers all of my points above.
Side comment: If Divinity was this good, I CANT WAIT for Wasteland, Pillars of Eternity and Torment to be released. Thank goodness Kickstarter exists!