Kickstarter is a platform for potential that has the ability to allow creators to work on new inventions, or in this case, games that the wider community not only approves of, but has placed their hard earned cash towards. In Garrett’s weekly feature here on the Koalition, you can see all of these brilliant ideas, ideas that maybe a publisher wouldn’t back, being developed into real games. Divinity Original Sin is one such title. Promising an “Old-school CRPG (Computer Roleplaying Game) with new ideas and modern execution,” Original Sin does exactly that.
You begin the game with your two person party of Source Hunters, arriving in the town of Cyseal to investigate reports of Sourcerors, magicians using a particularly evil type of magic. With a mix between high and low fantasy elements, you explore this world. But that’s not what’s going to be on your mind as you play through Original Sin. What will be on your mind, is how you interact with this brilliant fantasy world and the characters that inhabit it. Stocked full of side quests and dialogue options, each character is quirky and entertaining enough to grab your attention.
Yes, there’s bad puns, yes, some of the jokes fall flat, but the outgoing personalities and in depth dialogue options rarely leaves you lost. For example, when you go to Silverglen, it’s quite evident that the group known as the Immaculates have some real influence there, judging by the fact that everyone in town has a strong opinion of them. These clear omnipresent dialogue choices always points you in a direction, whether it’s relevant to the main storyline or one of the many side quests involved here.
That is, if you can be bothered going through all of these. In classic CRPG fashion, you are going to be overloaded by text. For fans of old school CRGs, this isn’t exactly a surprise, but for newer players, it can be very off-putting and some might say boring. Instead of the typical RPG quest markers we see nowadays, you are greeted with a journal summary of what you’ve just been told by NPCs. Thankfully, the world’s compact enough to mean that these descriptions will put you on roughly the right track, but there’s very little reason to actually read the dialogue instead of just the journal entries afterwards. Although you may find that your co-op partners find some sadistic reason to sit there reading text for ages whilst you wait.
These quests will take you out into the wilderness where you will face off against a wide range of different types of enemies in turn based combat, similar to many of the classic Computer Role Playing Games. But it’s the refinement and synergy that this system brings in that makes it so brilliantly intuitive. Using your standard attacks will never be enough to defeat your opponents and until you get out of that mindset and think of some plans, Original Sin will seem to be very difficult. There is some real complexity to it, that is at the same time, simple.
A simple common tactic I used was making it rain, then using my mages to fire off an electric bolt at the most dangerous target, potentially stunning them. I wasn’t thinking about the 10% extra damage I was able to do, and I hadn’t even remembered that one of my armour pieces gave me some elemental resistance, just in case my enemies tried the same trick. This is what I mean by intuitive. The choices that you make are at their inception, simplistic, but how this affects the battlefield in the long term can create something much more complex.
Although, it’s not all about combat. To be able to go into these battles, you will need to explore for money and items. This is heavily rewarded, and it’s something that I’m sure you will sink a lot of time into. These worlds are loaded with secrets and surprises, meaning that, even when you’re in the process of stealing all the plates from Cyseal and dealing with the cluttered inventory system, you might end up initiating a new side quest. The depth of not only the combat, but also the exploration and world here, is just amazing.
This exploration is used to reveal the map, which is available to view at any time. With a variety of environments and weather effects, Original Sin seems to capture you in this illusion of adventure. These environments not only affect battles in terms of stat and elemental bonuses, but also visually. When you electrocute a puddle, it will light up with electric shocks, clearly demonstrating to the player that they shouldn’t stand in it.
However, even though this is a nice touch, it can be easy to completely miss these effects. Puddles aren’t nearly as visible as they could be, and the electrocution mechanic could easily misfire and end up stunning your own party, just because you didn’t see the puddle. There’s a similar situation with fire and lava that is just needlessly harsh. When a character stands in fire, they gain a burning status that slowly does damage each turn. However, when a character stands in lava, they instantly die. This wouldn’t be a massive issue, but the two effects just look ridiculously similar.
This is all accompanied by a very fitting soundtrack. Along with the general RPG tropes, we are given the typical idle, adventure and battle soundtracks and various iterations of each. As you walk through towns, you’ll hear villagers chatting and shopkeepers yelling, playing up the atmosphere. There is one thing that is important to note, though. If you do not have the voice slider set to full in your settings, there is a chance you will be affected by a common bug that gives the entire voice track an irritating echo effect.
But these are all minor issues that can be either fixed or overcome easily. What’s important to consider now is not whether this is a good game or not, because it is indeed brilliant, but rather, whether it’s the game for you or not. Obviously if you’ve been following the Kickstarter of this project or are a fan of CRPGs, you’ve probably picked it up already. Do not buy this on impulse, do not buy it because you think it might be a quick bit of fun. Buy it because you have acknowledged what this genre means and what comes along with it. It is indeed, a “Old-school CRPG with new ideas and modern execution.” If you can get excited about any part of that phrase, I recommend Divinity: Original Sin as a game that you will truly love and I hope that it sets a trend for future titles.
This review is based on a PC digital copy of Divinity: Original Sin provided by Larian Studios.