Divinity: Original Sin Review
How much can you forgive when it comes to a game?
Because Divinity: Original Sin – for all its classic RPG glory – is replete with many minutiae of insignificant hiccups that, while irritating, aren’t overbearing enough to really spoil the underlying core RPG.
It’s about as classic as they come, too, from the top-down perspective, text-driven dialogue to – best of all – the open yet intricate (and often obtuse) means of quest completion.
There are plenty of comparisons to be made with the likes of Baldur’s Gate, and that’s as great a compliment you’ll get around these parts.
The Best Classic RPG For Years?
The sandbox nature of Divinity: Original Sin is what makes it so rewarding. Like classic RPGs of old, you won’t be trouncing along a very strict path, instead you’ll be free to tackle your objectives however you please.
In fact within minutes of starting the game you’ll have completed a handful of battles and found yourself at a town; wherein you’ll spend a great deal of time early on just picking up quests and chatting to folk.
Divinity: Original Sin plays its hand early on, and if you’re not used to the classic RPG way of doing things you may find it unusually text heavy.
Ignore that though; because that’s part of the game’s beauty.
It’s a game about experimentation, personalisation and exploration. Will you bash your way through a locked door, or look for the key to simply let yourself in? Will you murder the orc librarian as bade by the sinister elf, or have the elf arrested? Perhaps you’ll convince the librarian to play along, and hand over her amulet to satiate her aggressor.
That’s the kind of freedom you’ll have with Divinity: Original Sin. And, if you so choose, you could just play the game slicing apart anything and everything that slights you.
The Combat Of Divinity: Original Sin
Of course combat plays a large part of Divinity: Original Sin’s success, and though it looks more akin to Diablo or even Baldur’s Gate, encounters here are actually turn-based.
Utilising an impressively balanced system of cooldowns and action points, surviving combat is a mixture of sensible character levelling and smart, tactical decision making.
Make no mistake, Divinity: Original Sin is a hard game, especially early on. And if you want to succeed you’re going to need to utilise that F5 key. A lot. Quick saving before a battle will become a necessary habit.
This might sound frustrating, but it maintains that sense of reward that so few games achieve these days.
Combat blends seamlessly with the real-time actions of exploration, and the underlying systems are so finely tuned it’ll be hard not to be drawn into its wide range of complexities.
Myriad levelling options – and none of the strict class restrictions of modern RPGs – means you can truly build the character, or party, that you want.
Why You’ll Love Divinity: Original Sin
But what truly draws you into Divinity: Original Sin is not its combat, nor the freedom but its world.
Reiterating its sandbox design, this is a game that is all about playing with the world itself. The ability to move almost any object, for example, enables hidden items and objects that requires your input, not a behind the scenes roll of a die.
Buttons that are behind paintings or trapdoors concealed beneath rugs are just some of the ways the inquisitive player is rewarded, and it provides the game with a much more tactile approach to exploration.
And that’s to say nothing of explosive barrels and object-based traps and puzzles. It makes dungeon crawling and exploration a little more than just moving from battle to battle.
Yet while the world might not be the most fleshed out or lore-heavy location RPGs have ever known, what it lacks in depth it makes up for in personality.
The characters you meet on your travels vary, from the po-faced to the tongue-in-cheek. Heaving orcs lamenting the loss of their comrades, human soldiers turned into skeletons and more talking animals than you’ll ever need.
And the fact that you can interact with these characters and creatures however you please only solidifies the freedom Divinity: Original Sin offers.
Almost every character can be bartered with, minor conversations can leave you with forgettable decisions to make – but you’re rewarded all the same as your character’s personality is driven by these decisions.
It’s delightfully personal.
Divinity: Original Sin Review
Despite all this, it is worth drawing attention to a handful of flaws. Larian Studios is not a behemoth developer, and there are issues in how the game plays outside of its core ruleset.
Inventory management, for example, requires clicking on arrows in the menu rather than a character’s profile icon – making swapping items around unnecessarily frustrating.
Some longer quests can be fairly loose in their descriptions, requiring you to accidentally happen across a solution through exploration – or just resort to Googling it.
Requiring you to drag an ability to the spell bar to use its explicitly stated number of action points is frustrating too.
As are the many other glitches, bugs and design oversights that can irritate.
And irritate is about as much as these problems ever amount too. They’re never so tiresome that the game itself becomes unplayable; in truth, it’s likely many of them can be ignored and will probably be patched out over the next coming weeks and months.
But it does require an element of forgiveness while playing. If you ever find yourself annoyed by poor UI or inexplicable bugs then Divinity: Original Sin might not be the game for you.
But with that said, the core underlying systems are outstanding. It’s one of the best RPGs of recent times, even if the irony is that it’s designed largely on such a classic era of RPG gaming.
Version tested: PC