In the modern age of gaming, where we as consumers are constantly flooded with title after title, it’s hard to know when something truly special has come along. When games like Destiny 2 and Mass Effect dominate social media, have massive budgets, and seemingly endless marketing, it’s hard to get the word out about games like Salt and Sanctuary, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and of course Divinity: Original Sin 2. If you haven’t heard of this turn-based RPG from Larian Studios (or it’s precursor Divinity: Original Sin) by now chances are that you’re not going to, and that’s a shame. What Divinity has done for their arm of the RPG genre, is in a way similar to what Demon’s Souls and really Dark Souls did for Action RPGs. I don’t think I’m overselling that.
In this Divinity: Original Sin 2 Review, we explore how the game grants the player a large amount of freedom and seeks to restrict player choice as little as possible. With a very hands off approach, inevitably comes a lot of failure, trial and error, and ultimately a very rewarding success. It also breeds a lot of community involvement and discussion as players seek to find answers for the monumental (pardon the pun) amount of questions they invariably have. Can you escape the Fort without violence? What happens if I kill everyone and then help Gawin escape? Can Magister Sang be saved? Mixed in with fantastic gameplay, intense difficulty, memorable music and voice acting, it is without a doubt a formula for almost certain success. Let’s dive into these aspects of the game and see what makes Divinity: Original Sin 2 so special.
Developed by: Larian Studios
Published by: Larian Studios
Release date: September 14th, 2017
Platforms: Windows PC, (Reviewed on PC)
Price at time of review: 44.99 USD
Divinity Original Sin 2 Features
- Pen and Paper gone digital – Role-playing freedom allows you to not only select multiple options of dialogue and approaches, but adds tags and optional choices that determine your interactions with the world.
- Turn-based Tactical Action – A deep and engaging turn-based and board-based isometric combat approach, featuring environmental and status effects that demand planning and tactics.
- Party and Story Choice & Freedom – Form your NPC party or set forth solo, or play with a local split-screen player, or with up to four players online.
- Dungeon Master Mode – Unlimited gameplay and creative opportunities await on the dungeon master mode, where you can join other player’s creations or be the God of your own board.
DOS2 Review: Gameplay
At the heart of every great game is the gameplay. Some games can survive alone on this one aspect, and those without it find they may fall into the abyss never to be seen again. Divinity: Original Sin 2 expands on its already tried and true formula and gives you very simple instructions on the rules of the game.
The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do or what a man can’t do. —Captain Jack Sparrow
After that has been established the only thing really limiting the player is a few flags needed to make sure the game does progress and doesn’t break, and the imagination of the player. I could give you countless examples and blow your mind, but is one of the most intriguing aspects about Divinity.
The combat system in Divinity is turn-based, slow-paced but at the same time very enjoyable and challenging. Every skill your characters possess has their unique features and they can be combined to create greater effects. Not a single one of them is completely useless, and some less powerful skills in one build can be totally insane in another. While in combat, the battleground can be altered and utilized, and completely turn the tide in many cases, and generally you need to control the battlefield, not just focus on your enemies.
Also, the interactions between environmental features have been vastly expanded from the previous title, allowing you to design your own combat strategies and make some impossible battles just a little less challenging. And not just battles either: there’s a door you cannot get through? Have you tried killing one of your party members and resurrecting them on the other side? Divinity is the game that rewards those who like to think and be creative.
The quest system in Divinity: Original Sin 2 also shines. There are tons of the quests, secrets, and puzzles in almost every main region of the game. Some are beautifully fleshed out and webbed together so you can immerse yourself into the world Larian Studios has created for us. Some require you have a sharp mind and watchful eye and nearly every quest can be solved in different ways. Play the cold-hearted murder or noble-hero – it’s up to you. Divinity is not a trail where all you can you is to follow what game designers want you to do; in Divinity Original Sin 2, players decide what to do, and the designer merely provides the stage for you.
Sounds like the classic RPG games like Fallout 2 or Baldur’s Gate Trilogy right? True, but there’s more. The character customization in DoS2 far exceeds its predecessor, by assigning different Tags to your characters. Using these Tags provides each character with additional dialogue options that would otherwise not exit. You can really make the backstory of each character matter in a gameplay manner, and largely affect your playthrough (in a good way).
What’s more, the multiplayer mode in DoS 2 is a great success. You can challenge other players in an online arena, or play the story mode with a group of friends! To make people even more excited, there’s Game Master mode in Divinity Original Sin 2 that allows you create your own adventures. The devs offer a lot of tools for you to make your own dungeons, structures, weathers, music, characters, events….etc. And with Steam Workshop, you can share your adventures with players all around the world!
DOS2 Review: Story and Setting
The story of Divinity Original Sin 2 provides a solid ground for an epic adventure even though players may not be familiar with the story of the previous title and setting of this world. Divinity soon captures you with its outstanding writing, fantastic voice acting and brilliant world design. Like games such as Dark Souls‘ story, it manages to make you feel immersed with in-game lore and story in an intelligent fashion. The more you explore this world and its vast secrets and mysteries, the more you feel interested in it, however it isn’t required.
While the story and setting are probably the least intriguing element of Larian’s games, they manage to do enough here that you are not disappointed. Speckled with subtle humor, the dialogues of certain characters and item descriptions are sure to give you a good chuckle. One can’t help but feel that the people who take making their game very seriously, are not so serious after all, and that simply adds to the mystique of Divinity.
DOS2 Review: Audio and Visual
The graphics of Divinity Original Sin 2 may not be as good as some triple-A games, however it’s still sufficient for players to enjoy and get lost inside the fantasy world. It very much looks as though they used the same engine from the first game, with some slight graphical improvements. I’m not sure if you can classify this as disappointing or whether it’s simply the logical thing to do, but there you have it.
The music of Divinity Original Sin 2 is actually quite impressive. Its style perfectly fits the vibe of the game, and you may want to just stay at the main menu so you can listen to the beautiful melody of the main theme (I know I have). On the voice acting front, it’s hands down some the best I have ever heard (it may actually be the best). A huge improvement from the precursor, and against all odds, Larian Studios managed to include full voice acting for EVERY NPC and EVERY character, in a game that features a tremendous amount of dialogue and narrating. Outstanding!
On the voice acting front, it’s hands down some the best I have ever heard.