Divinity: Original Sin – Early Access Review
By Megan Mellers
Not everyone is going to have time to enjoy Divinity:Original Sin. RPGs with no quest markers might sound wonderful to a purist, but if someone just has an hour a day for gaming, they might not want to spend it grilling every NPC in town for pieces of the puzzle. However, if you are willing and able to push past the game-maker’s daunting refusal to give you any help, you’ll find a beautiful, charming, and fun game.
With the top-down, click-to-move mechanics of something like Diablo, Divinity: Original Sin offers exploration, interaction, and plenty of turn-based combat. Players get to choose two starting characters from a host of detailed classes and colorful customization options. These two characters turn out to be “Source Hunters,” powerful warriors who are known across the land. They have been sent to investigate the unsolved murder of a city official by…stealing peoples’ underwear.
That’s right. While the pure difficulty and commitment required demand a certain hardcore attitude from players, the game throws in a startling amount of goofy humor that players need to be ready to enjoy. Ridiculous puns, quests centered on the tavern cat, and quest items like dirty underwear all appear in the first few hours of the game. In addition, the game really asks for creativity from its players. Realizing that dirty underwear holds the key to solving the murder takes a lot of legwork and some surprising leaps in logic. Almost every item collected can be combined to create unusual tools, but players must exercise the imagination to find those combinations. And during combat, playing with concepts like casting a water spell and then a freezing spell with give you the edge you need to defeat your enemies.
Another distinctive element of this game is the multiplayer feel, even when playing in single player. When faced with moral dilemmas, your two main characters each must choose whether to take the “good” path, the “bad” path, or something in-between. If they disagree, it comes down to a rock-paper-scissors style faceoff, weighted by characters’ charm, reason, and intimidation bonuses. Playing each character off each other can give a single player great roleplaying opportunities, or if that feels to schizophrenic, you can assign one character a “personality” AI which will guide their decisions. While I have not had an opportunity to experience multiplayer mode, I expect it is excellent based on the single player model.
While the Early Access covered only the (reasonably extensive) issues of one city, the final release promises more zones and many hours of gameplay when it’s released later this month. The game started Beta with some major holes—if there are no quest markers, it’s extra problematic when those quests are also bugged. As testing progressed, however, the developers have made a huge number of changes, major and minor; to smooth out the game as it nears release. The developers have promised
full extensive voice acting upon release, which will give the game a lot more life. Divinity: Original Sin now feels polished and comprehensive, with extremely attractive graphics; if it’s not quite AAA quality, it’s definitely sitting at the high end of the quality and creativity independent games can offer.