Publisher: Larian Studios
Divinity: Original Sin is a prequel adventure in the epic Divinity RPG franchise by Larian Studios. Released on October 27th, 2015 Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition features local co-op, fully voiced characters, new content, changes to the crafting system, and a “reworked” story complete with new ending. Available for the first time on consoles, the game has been redesigned to play nicely on PS4 and Xbox One via a new control scheme.
As the orcs of Tanoroth are on the march, wielding magic never seen before: bloody, deadly, reality‐bending, the free nations of Rivellon are about to fall beneath their blades. Meanwhile, two unlikely heroes, hunters of this strange new magic known as Source, are called upon to investigate a murder in the nearby town of Cyseal. What starts off as a simple murder investigation leads into an adventure that threatens to destroy time itself as players will venture to the end of time and back to save the land of Rivellon from destruction.
Along the way, players will encounter countless allies and enemies to aid them in their quest to save Rivellon. Each character has their own rich backstory and unique personality waiting to be uncovered. However, a party limit of only four characters encourages players to think about who they should bring along for certain enemy and boss encounters. Characters can also build relationships with one another which can expand upon the individual story of each character as depending on what dialogue option the player chooses, one might see a new side of a certain characters’ personality that was unknown to them before.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is rated M for Mature and contains the following questionable content:
Blood and Gore, and Violence, including online features that may expose players to unrated user-generated content. As with any game that contains user-created content, players should consider the potential exposure to lewd, crude, or sexual material that is created via the in-game creation tools.
While characters can form relationships and romances with one another, there is no explicitly sexual content, but sex is implied in some situations. Certain female characters wear outfits that are revealing for a female warrior to wear and those who find this kind of content offensive should exercise caution.
I did not hear much foul language during my time with the game but it is there and may turn away gamers who don’t like to hear cursing in games.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition plays like your standard isometric action RPG. The game contains many elements from titles like Baldur’s Gate and Diablo as players will explore towns, dungeons, and the surrounding wilderness while killing enemies and raiding houses, caves, and defeated enemies for loot and other treasures.
Unfortunately, the gameplay of Original Sin is where its flaws really start to show. The user interface and menus are too spread out and quite cumbersome to use with a console game pad. It seems clear even with the console editions that this game was made for PC play.
An example of the frustrations brought on by the clunky UI is that switching characters is not handled with a simple flick of the right thumbstick or the D-Pad like in similar titles, but players must hold down the left trigger and then use the left thumbstick to select the character they wish to switch to. This makes managing each characters equipment and inventory an exercise in frustration as you must first select them on the character selection wheel then pull up the character options menu with the right trigger and use the left thumbstick to select the inventory and equipment screens. This results in several minutes spent doing absolutely nothing while you navigate through menu after menu just to equip a new sword or compare it to a previously obtained item.
This system does have one good feature however, and that is the ability to separate or group specific party members for battle or exploration opportunities. For example, to access a heavily guarded room, you can choose to break one party member off from the main group to sneak around the outside of the building and use a lockpick to enter the room from behind, unseen. Another use of this ability could be to have one member of the group go it alone for a portion of a dungeon to disarm traps that other party members may not have the skill to avoid.
Combat is a more strategic affair and plays out similar to games like X-Com or Massive Chalice as each character has a pool of action points that can be used to move, attack, heal, or use items and skills. A hot bar can be culled up with a press of the Y button but instead of being able to assign a specific item or skill to a face button for easy access one must pull up the hot bar then assign a skill as preset, then select it, before finally confirming that you wish to use it.
These issues would not be so much of a burden if characters had the option to run or sprint instead of the standard jog that seems to move along at a snail’s pace. There is a waypoint system that works by activating certain portals within the world and allows for fast travel between key plot areas though getting to these waypoints can sometimes be cumbersome as you can easily be ambushed by enemies who will often outnumber your party 2 to 1. Combat is difficult and can easily overwhelm players who haven’t taken the time to micromanage and prepare before adventuring out into the riskier parts of the world. Ironically, combat is made all the more difficult due to the constant battle the player will face with the tedious and daunting UI and controls.
The controls and UI navigation pulled me out of the experience so much that after only 5 hours of play I felt that I had accomplished nothing as I was still confined to the first major hub area of the game. Each quest line seemed to have an endless number of tasks assigned to its completion and few of them ever lead to any substantial combat or gameplay as most quests consist of going to this house and talking to this person before back tracking to the previous quest giver. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Even with variances in the gameplay, having to navigate through three menu screens and UI pop-ups just to disarm a trap proved to be daunting.
As with any RPG of this type, character development is key. With Original Sin, you are able to create any character you wish from familiar class types, like the Rogue. However, on top of simply choosing a class, your two starting characters will be gifted with specific traits for their chosen class and you can customize their various skills and abilities on the fly as your characters level up. Want a mage or an archer that can dual wield? You can do that in Original Sin.
While the various weapons and gear that you find in your journey will undoubtedly come in handy, you wont have time to compare stats as these items are everywhere. Almost every barrel, chest, or crate has a weapon or scroll inside. Scrolls are more unique as they can either teach your characters a new skill entirely or they can be used once to attack enemies or to clear traps and environmental hazards. Magic is used in much this same way and certain scenarios will have you putting out fires with water magic or setting off gas explosions using fire.
Moments like this make the game fun in parts, but having to go through at least three menu screens to use these effects and to equip them to the hot bar can prove exhausting. Constantly having to dig through inventory and equipment was enough to ruin my enjoyment of the overall story and its many intriguing and mysterious characters.
Perhaps the game’s best features are the beautiful and vibrant environments with NPCs who at least seem to have lives that they live out daily as you run through the city streets investigating murders, retrieving trinkets, or playing hit man for the more nefarious individuals that you can encounter.
Water looks about as good as water can look for a game in 2015 and the character models and animations are more in line with Diablo 3’s simple, but colorful visuals. Since this is an RPG and most characters stand still, there is not much in the way of special effects when it comes to the visual presentation. Lava looks like lava, and explosions from clouds of poison gas at least look realistic and there is scorched earth effect that appears after an explosion occurs. There is excellent attention to detail in that, like most modern games, characters will take damage if walking over these scorched, burning patches of land. Other examples of little details that really stand out is how the environment can be used to full effect, firing a water arrow over a burning fire will create steam that will burn and damage nearby enemies while firing an electric bolt into a puddle of water will electrocute any characters or enemies standing nearby.
The dialogue in the game is standard for an RPG of this type and while it is clear that the voice actors tried to lend personality to each role, it was hard to distinguish between character voices outside of the main party of adventurers that players can recruit. However, the sound quality is good as the aforementioned explosions are appropriately loud and characters will cry out in pain from splash damage and will comment on being poisoned. Characters will even make light of a bad situation by jokingly calling out a high level group of enemies or they might express their unease at the look of a certain monster. Unfortunately, the sub-par voice acting doesn’t lend much emotion to these lines as the main characters will express fear in the same general tone of voice that they would tell a funny joke to one of their companions.
While certainly an immersive and feature rich RPG with an intriguing story, Divinity Original Sin Enhanced Edition disappointed me with its tedious, lackluster gameplay and cumbersome UI and menu navigation. The characters and story have heart and are what I most enjoyed during my time with the game but a great story and characters cannot make a boring, tedious game fun. I recommend this game to only the most hardcore fans of classic, Baldur’s Gate style RPGs as those more accustomed to real time combat and being able to assign the use of items and skills to a face button won’t find much to love. If you love spending hours managing menus and character inventories then this is the game for you, all other need not apply.
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The Bottom Line
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition will be loved by hardcore RPG fans who enjoy Baldur's Gate and the original Diablo titles. Fans of new RPGs and Diablo 3 will be turned off by an overabundance of menus and UI issues and cumbersome inventory management. However, if players can look past the gameplay flaws there is a great story being told and the characters are all interesting and have their own stories and motivations.