Divinity: Original Sin is Larian Studio’s latest instalment in the Divinity series, a long-running throwback to games such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale. When going into Divinity: Original Sin I was worried that it would simply be a modern re-telling of Baldur’s Gate; a simplistic, dumbed down version of the DnD RPGs that I loved in my childhood. Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The moment I decided I was sincerely enjoying Divinity: Original Sin was when I attempted to dig up a grave in the back of someone’s house. One of the game’s many arguments between my two characters occurs, wherein Daisy wanted to dig it up, but Aldrahill wanted to leave it alone; as befits the mature adventurers that they are, they decided the argument with a round of Rock-Paper-Scissors. After that argument, another argument occurs about the same thing. Finally, after being victorious two times, I dug up the grave and… it exploded, killing me and all of my party. I knew, from that moment on, I would enjoy the entirety of Divinity: Original Sin.
Divinity: Original Sin brings the adventure and open-world spirit of Baldur’s Gate, yet somehow coupled with the clarity and polish of a modern triple-A game. The sheer consistency of quality throughout Divinity: Original Sin is almost frightening; it’s funny, it’s enjoyable and it’s hard. It’s also difficult, and that is just fantastic.
In Divinity: Original Sin you will find yourself planning every single fight, every single character’s progression and even the opinions of your character, whether because you want to roleplay or because you really want that bonus point in Charisma, you will plan everything. Honestly, you need to – it’s really difficult! The number of fights throughout Divinity: Original Sin is pleasantly numerous; there isn’t a constant swarms of enemies, nor are there large gaps between fights leaving you to just walk countless miles with nothing to do. However, the fights that matter – and not just the typical boss fights, even the fights around the entrances to major dungeons or quests – can become truly difficult.
There is just so much variety and diversity in the enemies you face: whether you’re figuring out what the hell to do with a midget-skeleton that blows up whenever it’s hit, or trying to determine the elemental weakness that a particular monster possesses, you’ll never feel like you’re facing the same enemy too frequently.
The orchestration of it all is what makes it so brilliant: all fights are turn-based, so the layout of the enemies when you stumble into them determines your strategy in combat. Are the enemy archers standing near some barrels of oil? Shoot a fire arrow and blow those boney losers up! Is the enemy Zombie kicking your front-line warrior’s ass? Teleport him away, or freeze him by making him wet and then chilling him, or even charm him and make him fight for you! Every single fight, it seems the options are endless.
The environment is completely alterable – there are a myriad of boxes, crates, barrels of oil or water just laying around the world of Divinity: Original Sin, every one of them lift-able, moveable and destructible. Because boxes and the like count as an obstacle for enemy archers, maneuvering boxes to provide a wall for your characters before the fight is possible, as is chucking a barrel of oil at an enemy to slow them, and then light them on fire.
At the beginning of Divinity: Original Sin, you’re given very little instruction as to what your characters should be; the standard starting class choice for your character is actually randomized whenever you go into character creation. Although at first it appears limiting, the classes serve as the barest starting point for your characters; you can change every single detail about them, from their talents, skills and preferred weaponry to whether or not they can speak to animals. I liken it more to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion character classes – you get assigned one at the beginning, but the name honestly means nothing as you can customize it as you wish.
I began the game thinking I would have a front-line warrior throwing fireballs around, backed up by a Ranger shooting magical arrows – I could’ve had that, but over time I instead changed their roles based on my play-style; Daisy is now my tank, utilizing Pyrotechnics to shield herself from her enemies, whist wailing on them with a Morning-star, whereas Aldrahill is my archer, but also my backup healer as well as my Geomancer, summoning spiders from a different Plane of existence, and giving Daisy magical armour.
Divinity: Original Sin is designed to be played as 2-player coop, but the game works just as well on your own, controlling both characters and their progression – it does get a bit odd having arguments about moral choices to yourself, but the way in which the characters settle disputes… at first I thought it was simple ludicrous, but then I realized settling serious moral questions with Rock-Paper-Scissors was hilarious.
At present, only two NPC companions exist – Madora, an awesome two-hander with nothing but brute strength and a hate for all magical things, and Jahan, the more typical wizard character. Do not forget to recruit these guys; they are just… so useful. The game is designed to be played with a party of four (there is also a mod that allows it to be played with 4 human players at once!), and without the damage of Madora or the magical diversity of Jahan, you will get your ass handed to you again and again. And again.
Although the balance if Divinity: Original Sin sometimes feels a bit askew – for example, Wizards are so utterly paramount that to not have one almost spells game over; Magic is flat out OP – Divinity: Original Sin is probably the most fun I’ve had in an RPG since Baldur’s Gate, and I don’t have to search my screen for a single pixel concealing a hidden ring in Divinity: Original Sin either!