Divinity: Original Sin

Divinity: Original Sin
Screenshots of classic role-playing game Divinity: Original Sin.

As an ardent fan of classic role-playing games, I have often lamented the current dearth of this genre. But crowdfunding site Kickstarter is giving a second chance to classics such as Wasteland 2, which publishers have shunned.

One such title is Divinity: Original Sin. I kicked myself for missing out on Original Sin's crowdfunding project after playing it for a few hours. I realised what a massive sin it was for me not to have been in on its Kickstarter project as a backer.

This game is not the first in the Divinity universe. It is set in the period before the other two Divinity games. In fact, it is a good introduction to the world of Rivellon, the land of dragons and dragon knights in this universe.

In Original Sin, you start with two main characters, Source Hunters who track down the use of a forbidden magic called The Source. You must investigate a murder in the port of Cyseal, where this magic is suspected to have been used.

This investigation will lead your party to save the world through some plot twists and turns.

When you create your first two characters, you can choose from 11 classes, including Battlemage and Ranger. But when you customise them to suit your playing style, they might stray from the characteristics of their original classes.

Fantastic world

Like many such role-playing games (RPG), this one is played from a third-person top-down view. An outstanding symphonic soundtrack accompanies Rivellon's gorgeous 3-D world and makes the experience feel grander.

Not only is the world fantastically crafted, it is also highly interactive. So when you run into a sandstorm, visibility is reduced and your party will slow down.

How you use the environment is very important. One quest required me to kill someone in a room in a tavern. But I forgot to close the door and other patrons started to attack me.

The quests here are unlike those "fetch an item" ones found in other RPGs. Many of Original Sin's quests force you to make moral choices. For example, do you kill an innocent Orc who has nothing to do with some recent Orc attacks? Or do you instead try to convince the man who gave you the quest that to do so is not right?

Every action has a consequence. And you make some of these choices through dialogue.

It is possible to converse with many non-player characters (NPCs). These exchanges are injected with plenty of wit and humour and will keep you entertained.

Although reading line after line of dialogue may seem tiresome, such interactions, like in any good classic RPG, are central to the game.

For example, if one of your party can speak to animals, it may open up some new side quests. Or a choice you make during a conversation may provoke disagreement within your party. If this happens, the game will pit party members against one another. The character with higher charisma will win the argument and the party will go with his choices.

Exploration is also a must in this game. There are few clues on what to do, so you will have to spend time wandering around. On countless occasions, I missed an item crucial to a quest because I did not search an area thoroughly.

I admit I did scour the Internet to find out how to solve some quests. But I found that there are different ways to solve each mission.

Even combat, which is turn-based, is not straightforward. Your tactical decisions are based on your characters' action points. Such strategic gameplay is not everyone's cup of tea, but for "oldies" such as myself, it is great to be able to plan a battle.

You can use the interactive environment to your advantage. For example, if you see an oil barrel near your enemies, aim a fire arrow at it and the area damage caused by the explosion will save time and effort.

As with any RPG, any loot taken from downed enemies is important. You can trade them with almost any NPC. The game also allows you to craft your own items. But you must first find recipes to concoct a potion or build a new weapon. Eventually, you will find yourself hoarding plenty of crafting materials.

And here lies the only downer in this game - its inventory system.

Each character in your party has his own inventory, with gold and items specific to the character. While gold and items can be transferred between characters, it gets a bit arduous looking at those boxes and wondering which items you need to move around.

Although there is a cooperative multiplayer mode which allows you and a friend to play online, I still prefer to play alone. This game easily gives you easily at least 50 hours (and most probably more) of play time. You do not need another player slowing you down or messing things up for you.

If you are a fan of classic RPGs such as Ultima and Baldur's Gate, you have to play this game. With its open reactive world, interesting quests, endless possibilities and immersive gamplay, Divinity: Original Sin is the year's best role-playing game so far.

trevtan@sph.com.sg

BACKGROUND STORY

Rating 10/10

  • US$39.90 or S$49.90 (PC and Mac)
  • Classic role-playing

This article was published on Sept 10 in Digital Life, The Straits Times.

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