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Review: Divinity- Original Sin

07 July on Blogs, Reviews  
Don't let the visuals fool you - a Diablo clone this ain't.

Don't let the visuals fool you - a Diablo clone this ain't.

As we see the first salvo of Kickstarted games come out, the crowdfunded model has become the target of renewed criticism – it’s not uncommon to speak of mismanaged development or underdelivered promises. So when developer Larian set out to make an old-school computer RPG that mixed the world and deep simulation of Ultima VII with more modern elements of games like Baldur’s Gate, why should anyone have trusted them? In this era of streamlined action-oriented RPGs, the odds of success for Belgian veteran studio Larian didn’t seem particularly good. And yet, deliver is just what they did.

Divinity: Original Sin takes place in the same universe as their other Divinity titles, but the story stands alone for newcomers – players are slowly introduced to the sprawling game world as the couple of highly-customizable protagonists explore it. Not only does the game allow you to control both as a tag team, but the engine fully supports multiplayer sessions in which each player goes their own way in the adventure – and more incredibly, develops separately and even disagrees on what the duo should do. Even playing alone, this mechanic results in some surprising interactions between the two characters and NPCs. And this is just scratching the surface: much like Ultima VII, Original Sin allows for an impressive amount of interaction – not only with the world, but also in its combat system.

The heroes are always created in pairs - but are highly customizable.

The heroes are always created in pairs - but are highly customizable.

When you first create your two characters, you do pick a “class”, but unlike most RPGs, it’s not forcing you into a restriction of what can be done, merely offering a starting point to your slow yet elaborate molding of your hero-or-heroine-to-be. There is a lot of customization waiting as your heroes grow stronger, and no shortage of new tricks to be figured out by employing their new skills – and what’s more, the plethora of quests you will find are just as varied in the ways they can be solved: combat, dialogue, exploration, crafting… the whole game thrives on making these features glow with emergent potential.

While the world might not be as huge as Ultima VII was back in 1992, it feels more densely packed with content. There is a lot to do, but unfortunately the fairly zoomed out and partially controllable camera can make controls a bit cumbersome as it is hard to pinpoint what you want to click – as well as making graphics less detailed than what some people might be used to in their behind-the-shoulder counterparts. All of this is a small price to pay, though: the menus are surprisingly functional for the amount of possibilities they offer, some deceptively simple, like being able to barter with just about every NPC.

You'll be surprised with the amount of interactivity in the world.

You'll be surprised with the amount of interactivity in the world.

Eventually, the wonder of all these options starts to fade, but the game still shines in clever writing. Expect to interact with a lot of varied characters – and even animals, should you pick the appropriate skill – as you adventure around the world. In fact, at one point I decided to role-play both protagonists as disagreeing all the time, and the results were unexpectedly delightful.

Add multiplayer support and a fairly well-featured (albeit not necessarily intuitive) content development tool included with the game, and Original Sin revives the old dream of allowing players to create their own campaigns. It’s still early to say how popular this will become, but it just adds to the already impressive replayability of the title.

Despite plenty of content, one can only hope modders will run wild with the editor.

Despite plenty of content, one can only hope modders will run wild with the editor.

The game might not be as easy to pick up and play as its current competitors, but the sheer potential and variety of Divinity: Original Sin bring it much closer to the roots of the genre when compared to the watered-down hybrids that are becoming more and more prevalent nowadays. It’s definitely not for everyone, but seeing as not even the Ultima VII sequels were able to follow these tracks, one can only hope this is not the last time we’ll see a developer taking the risk of creating such an intricate little universe in a box.

Tech sheet
Divinity: Original Sin
Platforms: PC, Mac
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios

 

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

Author, freelance videogame journalist, cinematography major and a little insane.

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