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Divinity: Original Sin 2 Review (Single Player)

Divinity: Original Sin 2 Review (Single Player)

The coast was clear, Lohse, my fiery haired enchantress, carefully used her teleportation enchanted gloves to materialise me onto an unguarded balcony. We had hit so many dead ends, escape plans foiled and betrayals leaving us stranded on this island. Silently I lowered a ladder so that the rest of my party could join me. Ifan winked, his signature gesture for a job well done, Lohse was grinning from ear to ear and Beast grunted his way up, the ladder designed for humans not dwarves. Tasting freedom we hurried into the keep and in our eagerness stumbled upon the kennels. Five trained armoured dogs raised their heads and bared their teeth. Readying ourselves with makeshift weapons and tattered rags we stood, prepared to die for our freedom, when suddenly a high pitched squeak interrupted snarling hounds. I don’t know when or why, but I had picked up a bright red squeaky ball sometime during my adventuring. The hounds paused, gaping maws slowly closing and the dangerous gleam in their eyes fading. Tossing the ball across the room; the now harmless pooches each dived for it and chased it, barking happily and growling playfully. Ifan laughed, who with his affinity towards animals could understand them, he informed us that the dogs were each shouting ‘Ball! Ball! My turn?! Ball!’. We had avoided yet another deadly situation and were one step closer to our freedom.

That was only the start of my journey into Divinity: Original Sin 2, a game with meticulous attention to detail where the smallest of actions can shape events in the future. Developed by Larian Studios this tactical RPG smashed its kickstarter goal of $500,000 within just 12 days and by the end of the campaign receiving a whopping $2,000,000. Has this money been put to good use? Yes, unquestionably yes.

Before diving into the intricacies of the game mechanics and how the world reacts to the player I first need to explain the character creation and how choices here impact aforementioned elements. There is the typical fantasy lineup of races to choose from, Elf, Dwarf, Human and the more unique, Lizard and Undead. Each come with their own racial abilities and bonuses that can be used in and out of combat, one of my favourite traits being cannibalism for the Elves. If creating a character from scratch seems like too much work then it is possible to play as preset characters with their own backstory and personal quests. These characters are the same NPC companions that can be recruited by the player as companions. One of the more unique races are the Undead, being a member of the deceased means that healing spells and potions will in fact damage them and instead poisons and spells heal them. Due to their terrifying visage, the Undead cannot reveal any part of their boney body around the majority of Divinity’s populace without reactions of fear and in some cases violence.

Divinity 1

D:OS 2 handles NPC reaction to the player through the use of tags, these tags are ways to give personality and history to the character, players may choose from a selection of tags during character creation and are assigned others such as race and gender. After making several characters it was interesting to watch NPCs be friendly to one race and aggressive towards another. Tags may also be generated through player actions, by doing many good deeds I was able to unlock the Hero tag, this drastically shifted how NPCs viewed my character and the type of dialogue I could engage with. All of these elements combined directly affects relationships and quest objectives with NPCs and companions alike. The amount of alternative paths to reach an outcome, just through dialogue is utterly staggering, a true testament to the amount of work the writers have pumped into the story. Follow this up with high quality voice acting and the D:OS 2 story is an absolute joy to experience.

The appearance customisation is a little lacking in comparison to other RPG character creators, with no body modification, minimal preset heads and a maximum of ten hairstyles (mostly for the Human race) there is room for more content to be added here. I can let this slide as the game itself is beautiful, the detailing, especially for a top down game is superb. Particular attention has been made to making each race different, despite being the typical choices for the fantasy genre. Elves are not simply tall humans with pointy ears, their limbs are skinny and elongated, their torsos thin, and leaf-like patterns carved into the anatomy of their torsos. It is these noticeable differences that is refreshing and makes each race feel as if they have a completely different ancestry and history to each other. Despite my PC recommending I run the game's graphics settings on low I am still able to ramp everything to ultra with no slowdown at all.

Classes range from the classic Fighter to the standard Wizard and with an impressive selection of hybrid presets such as the BattleMage and the Shadowblade, there is a wide selection to suit all playstyles. The ability to swap and change skills within each preset class offers a great deal of flexibility. Want to be a heavy warrior with destructive spells or a stealthy rogue that can conjure demons to do their bidding? Done. After making several characters and testing what each are capable of (I spent a good 5 hours experimenting with different combinations) I settled on the preset Shadowblade, a roguish backstabber with the magical ability to metamorph and hide in plain sight.

Divinity 2

There are a total of four difficulty options to choose from, Explorer for those that want to experience a subdued adventure. Classic which requires a good working knowledge of skills and placement of teammates. Tactician needs more forethought than a master class chess game and I salute those who attempt the Honor difficulty as I was barely able to manage on Classic mode. Positioning of every party member must be considered, what ability will combo with which character, who will attack first, how far they can move, what environmentals can I use to my advantage? Rushing headlong into a fight is a sure fire way to reach the game over screen as I discovered the hard way.

My first few hours resulted in frustration as I saw the game over screen a little too often. However with each defeat I would find myself pondering what I had done wrong and how I could improve for the next attempt. One fight that had me stumped for hours was finally won once I realised my team could not go toe to toe with the enemy, instead I would have to use my mobility to my advantage. Luring the dangerous foes away with my Shadowblade and then sprouting wings and flying to a safe location allowed me to single out targets and take them down one by one. Learning what each companion can do and how they combo with each other can be quite the learning curve, requiring a lot of patience and experimentation but the payoff is well worth it. Managing a large team is not everyone's cup of tea and the game caters for this with the trait Lone Wolf. This trait allows the player to have a significant buff to their health and damage when playing solo or with one party member.

With its rich story, compelling characters, and wealth of different ways to approach any situation, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a title that plants its flag in the tactical RPG genre and stands heads and tails above its competitors. Requiring plenty of patience to learn the game mechanics and to absorb the immense amount of story thrown at the player; this title may not be for everyone but if you’re willing to invest the time this title is one that will be played over and over for years to come.

Stay tuned for the multiplayer and game creation mode review.

10.00/10 10

Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Reviewed on Windows)

Outstanding. Why do you not have this game already?

With its rich story, compelling characters, and wealth of different ways to approach any situation, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a title that plants its flag in the tactical RPG genre and stands heads and tails above its competitors. Requiring plenty of patience to learn the game mechanics and to absorb the immense amount of story thrown at the player; this title may not be for everyone but if you’re willing to invest the time this title is one that will be played over and over for years to come.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
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COMMENTS

Acelister
Acelister - 06:16pm, 22nd September 2017

I was surprised by the variety of characters. Even the pre-made ones - you can choose whichever class you want to be. I went for a rogue Lohse, after toying with the idea of an undead character. Think I'll save that for my second playthrough.

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NikholaiChan
NikholaiChan - 06:35pm, 22nd September 2017

I still need to check out the undead characters but my blood cleric is having alot of fun at the moment ;) 

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LittleBigBoots
LittleBigBoots - 06:39pm, 22nd September 2017 Author

Yes that was a feature I didn't touch on, being able to keep your favourite personalities in your party and not having to switch them because they don't fit your party structure is a brilliant design choice. 

My favourite has to be the Red Prince, he's just so damn prim and proper.

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Acelister
Acelister - 06:43pm, 22nd September 2017

I love the Red Prince, he's absolutely hilarious.

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