Tuesday , February 27 2024

PC Review – ‘Divinity: Original Sin 2’

Divinity: Original Sin 2 from Larian Studios is a game about choice and reactions instead of what typically fills games these days.  Yes there is a world altering plot, a diabolical (perhaps misunderstood enemy), but ultimately the choices and reactions are what make this game truly great.

The first major choice is your character that will occupy many many hours as you progress through what is essentially an RPG masterpiece.  Larian, of course, has given a character creation tool that allows players to make whatever character they desire.  Want a Dwarven mage, sure. How about an Elven Inquisitor? Why not.  In my case I wanted an Undead Elven Metamorph because why shouldn’t that be an option.  The sheer variety of class types is compounded by the fact that classes are just templates; players are encouraged to multi-class or move points around to other skills.

If making your own player is not what you desire, Larian also included pre-created characters, but these have major twists.  Instead of just being generic thief or standard fighter, the pre-generated characters are all unique and have major plots of their own.  One character is an exiled Prince from the lizard race, another is a psychotic elven assassin, and all have secrets and an epic tale of their own.  In a nice twist all of the pre-generated characters are available to be met and recruited to your party.  Once met you can further their story lines as well as the main path which is a very satisfying way to have your cake and eat it too.

As mentioned Divinity: Original Sin 2 (or DoS: 2) is about choices and reactions and nearly every aspect of the game revolves around those characteristics.  Skills and abilities all layer on to provide dramatically different effects.  Choose the pet pal perk (a must have for someone in the party) and random animals will give quests or lead you astray.  Choose the summoning skills and have another party member with elemental skills blast fire or poison giving you an elemental template for your summons.  Summoned totems or creatures inherit the elements they are conjured in so a fire or poison conjured demon is possible.  Undead only heal from poison, so casting poison spells on them both help them and hurt the enemies around.

Dialogue and random encounters also revolve around choices and reactions.  In a particular scenario the party found a number of soul jars and destroyed one of them.  Later on in a key location the witch running the area was dead, all because a jar was smashed hours earlier.  These cause and effect scenarios are the bread and butter of DoS: 2 and add a depth to the game that is really quite surreal.  From getting rid of a key guard to talking to a dog that misses it’s friend, there are surprises and random changes to the path of the game that happen depending on what you do at any given time.

The true magic Larian has trapped in a bottle for DoS:2 is the volatility they have designed into the game that enables so many choices and reactions from characters and the world itself.  It is staggering how many ways a scenario, dungeon, or encounter can be tackled. That is something many games have tried to accomplish but DoS:2 nails it in spades by enabling options that could even break the scenario in one way or another.  This randomness and ability to really mess with the systems of the game to cause positive and negative reactions is worth the price of admission all on its own.

On the more traditional front DoS:2 excels in all the standard ways.  The game looks pretty stunning at times with atmospheric and elemental effects causing screen changing effects that are a sight to behold.  There is a big focus on environmental effects like fire, lightning, and poison that are handled in a very dynamic and often times stunning way.  The audio in the game is also top notch with a superb soundtrack and unbelievably all characters are fully voiced and sound marvelous.

Gameplay is better suited to a mouse and Keyboard but Larian has made this console friendly by adding controller support.  While no date has been announced for a console port the original game did get released on PS4 and Xbox One so it is pretty much a given the sequel will as well. The controller support works, but as there is an insane depth of options for skills, powers, and one use items like potions/scrolls mouse and keyboard is the way to go.

While DoS: 2 is a marvel and one of the best RPG’s I have played in a long time, it is not without it’s issues.  The difficulty curve is VERY steep at the beginning of the game when trapped in Fort Joy.  In order to really get the most out of the game and succeed in the tougher quests you need to scour the Island and do every last mini-quest in order to level and raise cash.  In this way side quests become almost mandatory and I did not really appreciate that, but the game is fun so it could be forgiven.  There are also some camera issues especially when foliage or buildings are in the way and the scrolling needs serious work to be seamless.

Those quibbles aside the depth of story, interesting characters and a true sense of choices and reactions set Divinity: Original Sin 2 at the top of the RPG pantheon.  At first glance it looks like another me-too product in the isometric RPG renaissance we are in right now, but it is different in a way that is refreshingly brilliant.  Larian Studios has set a high water mark with Divinity: Original Sin 2 and one that every fan of the RPG genre should experience.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is available right now via Steam and GOG platforms.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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