If the budget was indicative of the game fun factor and quality then we would live in a much different world. Games like Destiny or Mass Effect have their budgets well over $100 million while Larian Studios had perhaps under $10 million to bring the world of Divinity to life. And it did so in a spectacular fashion. The developer with both the original game and this sequel has the vision, the fan support, and the transparent development process that makes their games what they are – surefire hits.
I personally have been playing and following Larian games ever since Divine Divinity, and Dragon Knight Saga remains one of my favorite RPG games to date. Let's see what Larian did to improve upon all they have built in their previous games.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is available for purchase on the KeenShop.
The story of Original Sin 2 takes place much much later in time after the events in the original game. The narrative, at least in the beginning of the game has been turned on its head compared to the original. Where in Original Sin you began as a Source Hunter, in the sequel, you are a Sourcerer imprisoned for being just that. Lucian The Divine ie. the protagonist of the Divine Divinity game has died while his son Alexandar has taken up the mantle, although without ascending to Divine status, which makes him bitter and ruthless.
He is responsible for declaring Source users as criminals, forcibly purging them of their powers to leave empty bodies devoid of emotion behind. This is mostly due to the fact that a bunch of Source users such as yourself and your companions have attained the status of Godwoken which are a kind of Divine status candidates as chosen by the Gods.
The general populace has been brainwashed into thinking that the Voidwolken creatures and demons are drawn to Source users which results in all-out hate and hostility towards them. All in all – it's a bad time to be a Sourcerer. While this might seem like a cookie cutter story of hero against a diabolic main villain, it's anything but.
The story of Original Sin 2 is multilayered, adult, no-hand-holding, and sometimes dark experience. The writing is amazing across the board and I have never been so inclined to read every piece of text and listen to every bit of dialogue as I have been here. Sure there are quests that are a bit more tedious (go here, fetch that) but most quests, especially the main ones are intelligent and intuitive.
The introductory Act 1, Fort Joy mission will immediately make it clear what kind of experience the rest of the game will be as the NPC's react intelligently to everything you do and the entire game is like a huge tree. The game will wildly branch and offer new gameplay and story possibilities depending on your actions and choices. I say actions because your decision making and NPC reactions are not limited to dialogue options but extend to your behavior, race, traits, class, even to your clothing in some instances. I played my first game as an Undead race and this brought about an unexpected amount of unique dialogue, choices and sometimes hilarious NPC reactions.
The choice system is brutally unforgiving for the most time as there are no retries in decision making unless you load a previous save. I found myself doing this many times, not because I was blocked from progressing but because the game is made in such a manner that you will always wonder what could have been had you tried something else. It's masterfully done and no choice seems like a wrong one which results in always moving forward, no matter what you do. This also encourages multiple playthroughs which are guaranteed to turn out completely different.
The possible party members are no different in terms of quality writing, but they are also completely optional and you can play the game only with your own character. It would be a waste since their own personal quests and back stories, although often interwoven with the main quest, sometimes outshine it by far. It also helps that when they first join your party, you get to decide their class so you won't have situations where you meet an interesting character but won't take him with you because you already have a mage in your party.
All in all, although you have a general story to follow, Divinity's story is basically what you make of it. This is a role-playing game in the fullest sense and I have rarely played one that presented me with this many intelligent narrative and gameplay options.
On the surface, gameplay is the same like in many isometric RPG games with a combination of traveling the game world, engaging in conversation, fighting against enemies and collecting loot. Underneath the hood, however, things are once again, like the narrative, taken to a whole new level.
I'm usually not a fan of turn-based combat systems so when I say that I love the combat in Divinity 2, you know the developer did something right. The fact that player-controlled characters can essentially be any class, use almost any weapon and skill if the requirements are met results in a system with an insane amount of customization which translates to a whole lot of fun.
Weapons and skill are also highly reactive and many of them synergize with one another. The simplest examples would be a puddle of water that can be electrified or an ice shield that is melted away by a fire attack, or perhaps a mist created by water evaporation from your fire attack which reduces visibility. Take that and apply it to almost any skill and attack and you get a system that is a joy to use and experiment with. If you thought that it ends there, there is also the importance of combat positioning (height, distance, etc.) and a skill crafting system and you get the picture of how fun and customizable the combat experience truly is.
Don't be fooled into thinking that only you as a player can use all the above as the enemies take full advantage of said combat systems to full effect. This can sometimes make battles extremely difficult and brutal, especially in the beginning when you are not completely familiar with everything at your disposal. I was many times killed by enemies who applied the "stunned" status effect on my party (which makes them skip a turn) while chipping away at their health. Many casual RPG fans who don't take their time to learn and study all the systems in place could find the game too difficult, even on the lower difficulty setting.
The game also features an insanely fun 4 player co-op system that was highlighted in pre-release videos and I can confirm that it's as every bit as what was shown. There are a ton of opportunities for fun moments and friendly griefing along with just going through the quests together. If you can get at least one other person to play with you, you will have a ton of fun.
Mostly because even when you play as a party, you aren't magically tied to one another and can go your own separate ways. Say for example your character ends up in jail, your buddy can then leave you to fend for yourself or mount a daring jailbreak, or even a more intelligent way of getting you out, like teleporting some lockpicks to you. It's all one big sandbox and the game places no limitations in the ways you can use what is at your disposal. Most of the things you can think of, the game lets you do it in the way you intended.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Isometric RPG's are often nothing to write home about in terms of visuals. With that being said, I'm happy to say that Original Sin 2 is at least above the competition in that regard. This is mostly due to excellent texture work as the game looks fairly well even when zoomed in. The environments in particular aside from some great texture work, are densely packed, believable and feature some outstanding views which are an amazing feat when talking about a game featuring an isometric point of view.
There are some small problems, mostly FPS drops when the action get's too hot and heavy with all the spell effects. Also, the HUD is could be a bit more aesthetically pleasing because as it is – I often had a feeling like I'm playing a game that's 10 years old. Especially when entering the inventory and skill menus which can be counter-intuitive and confusing to navigate despite the improvements when compared to the first game.
When talking about the music, the main menu will quickly give you a preview of what you can expect. A mesmerizing mix of orchestra and high fantasy sounds that fit the game well. It's the kind of soundtrack that perfectly complements the world and blends into the gameplay completely.
On the voice work front, consider what I wrote about the insane amount of branching stories that feature in the game and then imagine what a gargantuan task would be to make it all completely voiced? Well, Larian once again stepped up and hired around 80 voice actors to deliver more than 74 000 lines of dialogue which is insane. It helps that voice acting is rock solid for the most part and only rarely have I come across an NPC who's voice acting was uninspired enough to throw me out of complete immersion.
What can I say in conclusion other than what I said above? Not much. The icing on the cake could be the topics I haven't even touched upon like the Master Mode which replicates playing Dungeons & Dragons tabletop for added multiplayer fun, which in itself could fill an entire article or the release of the developer tool and a full-on mod support
All I can say in conclusion that you go and buy this game. You will not regret it. There are a few issues here and there which are completely overshadowed by all the great parts. If you are more real-time action-oriented, the fact that Original Sin 2 is an isometric RPG with turn-based combat might repel you but on the other hand, it could, like it did with me, make you love it every step of the way.
|+ Great writing||– Slight technical problems|
|+ Huge amount of intelligent, branching quests||– Uninspired HUD and inventory|
|+ Customization options||– Sometimes a bit too difficult|
|+ Combat system|
|+ The Co-op Multiplayer|