July 9, 2014 by Tim

Should you be playing Divinity: Original Sin?

Hell yeah you should.

I love turn-based tactics games. I love good sandbox RPGs. I love co-op. Divinity: Original Sin has all of these things. It’s a CRPG of the breed I grew up with. It is Baldur’s Gate for today. With co-op.

I’m strictly playing it with a friend, but it’s worth it even if you go it alone. There has got to be easily forty-plus hours of good gaming here. Let me tell you a little bit about it.

We started off by creating our characters. We got to fiddle with their appearance and, if we chose, everything else. We could tweak just about all the starting stats and talents and abilities. The first time through, it’s probably best to use the preset classes as a guideline, but your second time through you’ll have a total understanding of how to build the character you want.

The default setup is a man and a woman team, but you can do whatever you want. We chose sisters in battle, a stealthy Ranger and a 2H-wielding Knight.

The game is limited to 2 player co-op, and I think that’s balanced appropriately. There is a mod that lets you start with 4-player co-op, but I imagine that would make the earlier game too easy… I don’t know for sure though.

Over the course of the game, you not only chat and develop relationships with NPCS, but with eachother. You’ll regularly have conversations that will change your stats based on your dialogue. Early on in the game, we came across a talking clam, that wanted to be thrown back into the ocean. My friend offered to do so. I suggested we kidnap him for the valuable pearl inside. We disagreed… she attempted to pursuade me with charm, and I attempted to persuade her with intimidation. At a stalemate, the game then threw us into a multi-round game of rock-paper-scissors to determine who would win the argument.

The Ranger won, we threw the clam into the ocean, and our stats adjusted accordingly.

The interplay and coordination between characters most certainly extends into battle. It’s almost like Magicka in an RPG, in that all of the elements react to eachother. Fire ignites oil, water douses fire creating blinding steam. Characters that are wet will freeze and electrocute more easily, and fire will thaw frozen characters.

As a strong Knight, I may start a battle by throwing a heavy barrel of oil into the midst of our enemies, and then on my Ranger friend’s turn, he’ll shoot it with a fire arrow, causing an explosion for damage, and a giant patch of burning oil on the ground the enemies will need to circumnavigate. We heal eachother, we pick eachother up when we get knocked down, we strategize and prioritize.

And we die a lot. The game isn’t easy. But we reload, try again with a different strategy, and conquer the challenge.

Just about all objects in the game are moveable/breakable. Depending on your strength, you can throw crates and barrels and chairs, either to get them out of your way, to damage an enemy, or even to create cover. We discovered early that archers can’t shoot past crates, so when face with a group of ranged enemies, before starting the fight we’d round up boxes and barrels. Sometimes we’d need to carry them from pretty far away, throwing them to eachother leapfrog style to get them to our battleground. Once there, as the stronger character, I’d throw them into position to create a makeshift wall to hide behind. 

Then, once the fight was triggered and the game entered turn-based mode, we could duck behind the crates to force our archer foes move closer to get a shot, where I could then charge into melee with them.

Divinity is incredibly… open. It’s one of those games where you can do almost anything you want, however you want. In town you can sneak, you can steal, you can pickpocket… any NPC in the game can be killed. Or rather, can be attacked, at least. Some of them are pretty powerful, so who knows what would be required to kill them. The point is though, it’s possible. According to the devs, all of the quests can be completed in multiple ways, so the game will work around the death of a quest NPC.

It’s also one of those more “hands off” games. There’s no big tutorial explaining every little detail. There are some tooltips to guide you, but a lot of it you just figure out on your own. I like it when games do that. Crafting is, by and large, trial and error. Trying to combine things and seeing what happens. You can read books in the game which will give you recipes, and some direction, but otherwise, you’re on your own.

At $40, this game is an absolute steal. The amount of fun to dollar ratio is crazy. Again, I still highly recommend finding a friend that is willing to play through it with you, but even alone I think you’ll be hard pressed to find a better RPG of this nature this year.

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