Divinity: Original Sin 2 Review
Source. The energy used to conjure life and command the elements, Source is a powerful and dangerous skill to master. Those who control it, Sourcerers, have been outlawed, as the use of their power beckons the coming of the Voidwoken, creatures of the darkness. By decree of the Empire, Sourcerers are to be gathered together, their power restrained until a cure for their natural abilities can be found to keep the land safe. You are a Sourcerer, but could there be such a thing as a cure?
From developer Larian Studios, Divinity: Original Sin 2 (D:OS2) is the kind of RPG we have been sorely missing from video games for some time. Players will recognize the top down style and RPG elements seen in older titles like Dungeon Siege or Champions of Norrath, but even those impressive comparisons just scratch the surface of what D:OS2 brings to the mighty table.
The easiest way to explain Divinity: Original Sin 2 in the shortest amount of words is this; “Dungeons and Dragons: The video game.” Everything about D:OS2 feels richly inspired by the classic DnD series and it does it incredibly well. Players create their own character from one of four races; Dwarves, Humans, Elves, and Lizards. If that weren’t enough, each of these races can also be created in their undead variant, a form that adds entirely new mechanics to the game. If you find yourself having trouble creating a character, several of the game’s optional party members can be selected and tweaked, making the game follow their own storyline.
“I highly recommend having a varied party across skills and races, as every one of the unbelievable abilities in the game should be used at least once to be appreciated.”
Beyond appearance, customizing your character is a massive undertaking. I restarted my file half a dozen times the more I learned how the game works, wanting to craft the perfect combat style for me. Not only must you pick your class, classes can also be altered with different specializations, each of which unlocks new abilities. You can also select your starting ability that can range from being stronger working as a solo adventurer, automatically healing when standing in blood, or gaining additional action points in combat after dealing a killing blow. The list to choose from is exhausting but well worth a look.
Players can choose up to four characters to be in their party or go solo. I highly recommend having a varied party across skills and races, as every one of the unbelievable abilities in the game should be used at least once to be appreciated. Dwarves can fit in tight spots, Humans get better prices when haggling and Elves… well, Elves are cannibals, and eating the flesh of the fallen dead unlocks memories; some are useful, others are sarcastic one-liners. The real standout addition to the game is the undead variants. Undead must be covered at all times to hide their true appearance. If anyone sees you they will either attack or flee in terror. To counteract this, undead are able to craft magical masks by tearing the face off a dead body. When wearing the mask they appear to be that race, regardless of which race it is. This can be incredibly useful when it comes to the exhaustively in-depth dialogue that D:OS2 features.
Much like in the real world, someone can dislike you simply for how you look. D:OS2 has some racial biases: if you are a Lizard, Dwarves might not want to talk to you at all, if you are an Elf most Humans will avoid you for fear of being eaten. On top of that, each character has two background traits ranging from Barbarian to Soldier, Mystic to Jester etc. These traits will affect how people treat you and the dialogue options you have to choose from. Having a conversation with different characters can actually change the outcome and response you get, which is an incredible factor in how the game plays out.
After a few hours into the game, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do. I could look at my log book for clues, or I could talk to my party members for advice. Each character is well-rounded and flushed out, giving me advice on their own personal goals. It was then that I realized just how open this game is: I was pointed in the direction with a simple task, to leave the island I found myself a prisoner of. But I can choose to go about any problem in any way I see fit. There is no hand holding, there is no checklist of objectives, much like Dungeons and Dragons, the control lies entirely in the imagination of the player.
“While there is much to see and do, this is a game about being methodical, taking it slow and exploring every possibility before moving forward.”
I found myself attempting to bargain for the life of a captured thief. I could have walked away and let the thief take his punishment. I also could have bought his freedom from his cruel keeper, or talked his way free if my stats were high enough. Instead, I opted to start a fight against the prison keeper and his men and this array of options are surely just the beginning of what D:OS2 has in store in the way of creating your own path. Combat, too, follows the DnD route with turn-based combat about positioning, distance, available skills, and action points. Action points are everything from your movement, to healing, to attacking. Some actions take more points than others, and your points will regenerate a certain amount per turn. It is a phenomenal mechanic in practice as it makes you get acquainted with your characters, their abilities, and the right time to use them. This also brings into play the way the environment and elements work together.
If something is on fire, water will put it out. If something is wet, it’s less likely to catch fire; however, it can be frozen or conduct electricity. One character can set off a poisonous cloud or a puddle of poison and another can set it on fire, causing a long-term burning. These sorts of combinations can be instrumental in winning combat, but these skills can also be used outside of battle to solve puzzles.
With an absolutely gorgeous setting, deeply rich and complex character development, intelligent and tactical combat that is still user-friendly, and literally hundreds of ways to play through the game, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an absolute must-have for fans of fantasy RPGs. While there is much to see and do, this is a game about being methodical, taking it slow and exploring every possibility before moving forward. Anyone looking to get lost in a fantasy world of new and exciting mythos will find themselves quite happy here.
*** PC code provided by the publisher ***
- Unique and Varied Cast
- Stellar Voice Acting and Graphics
- In-Depth Character Customization
- True Player Freedom
- Drop In/ Out Multiplayer
- Easy To Forget Tasks
- Limited Tutorial