Divinity: Original Sin is one of the most impressive crowdfunding successes to date. Over $900,000 was put toward the tactical RPG, and it maintained a Metacritic score above 85%. With that success comes new opportunity, but not just for the next game. It was now possible for Larian Studios to improve on their game and, with the help of their community, they filled the holes while bringing the experience to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users.
In Divinity, your created characters are Source Hunters, skilled individuals employed to police users of Source. Source is the world’s magic and Source Hunters are tasked with taking out the malevolent users called Sorcerers. The story starts with a murder mystery and, with a wealth of additional tasks you find along the way courtesy of NPCs, the main story branches from that investigation.
The developers pride themselves on the tasks being nonlinear, but frequent failure will be your guide. Outside of the main story and its branching points, there’s nothing pointing you in the right direction other than getting completely destroyed if you stray down the wrong path at the wrong time.
Though there are “side quests,” nearly everything you do feels important to the world, if not directly substantial to the main plot. This is a testament to great writing from Larian Studios. Nothing feels recycled or tacked on for the sake of “fluff” in this 60+ hour experience. Every encounter counts when it comes to your character’s progression as well. There are no re-spawning waves of enemies for you to “farm” or gain experience from, so it’s good to have a wealth of things you don’t feel “drag” the experience along.
Just about every step you take as a Source Hunter influences the world in different ways and there’s no better expression of that than in the combat. The tactical affair is where you witness the true power of the Hunters and their companions. Larian Studios does an incredible job making every single stat important across the full experience and, in a conflict, every bit of your surroundings can change the tide of battle: Water puddles can be electrified, oil barrels can be broken open and lit ablaze, poison clouds can be introduced to fire to spark chains of explosions, and much more. More often than not, your party will encounter overwhelming odds where you’ll have to use the environment to make the fight a great deal more manageable.
Visually, Divinity: Original Sin is one of the most beautiful isometric RPGs to date. Even when there are a lot of special effects hitting your screen at once, it only stutters slightly, not taking away from the experience too much. The original version’s locked camera has been redone to take advantage of console controls and the game looks good from every angle and even better up close. With sound, the music is a mesmerizing and epic partner to the story. But the biggest addition is fully voiced characters. Original Sin has great writing and the new voices bring it to life, right down to the animals… if you have the right abilities of course.
While many things have been improved upon, there are still a couple of issues that roll over from the original title. Previously mentioned is the difficulty that comes with no defined quest progression, having you wander into the wrong places thankful that you saved recently. The inventory system is also very frustrating. Items aren’t sorted automatically and, even when you chose to sort by “type” within the menus, you’ll be overwhelmed when you look back on your haul after a dungeon. There are options for smaller bags for your characters to carry around, but you’ll have to be wary of what you pick and who picks it up. Basically, you have to keep in mind how you want things separated before you even pick them up.
With such a great foundation in place when it comes to gameplay, the multiplayer ramps things up tenfold. The free flowing gameplay is highlighted when you split your party up to take on tasks from different ends or focus on different quests entirely. If you wish, you and your co-op partner never even need meet up. While the idea of this may seem daunting, there’s a Lone Wolf perk that gives a major buff to characters when they’re on their own. Imagine taking a team of three through the main part of a task while sneaking a lone wolf behind the scenes to decimate reinforcements and you’d be scratching the surface of possibilities.
While there are other titles that thrive on the classic CRPG experience like Pillars of Eternity with its incredibly dark tone and gritty ambiance, Divinity modernizes the experience with vivid colors, bright humor, and an intuitive combat engine with near endless flexibility. Classic RPGs such as Divinity are scarce on console (even more so this generation), but the opportunities afforded developers by crowdfunding are opening things up. Larian Studios found a way to bring the intuitive controls of a mouse and keyboard to game controller and other devs should take note. Do not miss this game.
This review of Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is based off a digital copy for the PlayStation 4 which was provided by Larian Studios.