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Divinity: Original Sin 2 (PC) artwork

Divinity: Original Sin 2 (PC) review

"A highly nuanced, open ended RPG."

This is one of those games I wasn’t really hyped for or interested in for a long time despite it haunting my wishlist for a while. At first it looked like a Diablo clone set in Divinity’s universe which would have been enough for me. Instead, it became more of an older school Baldur’s Gate/Icewind Dale type game with a bit of an XCOM flair to it. There’s many comparisons to be made but funnily enough, the game evokes the feeling of Morrowind and its general open endedness. It is a pleasant surprise.

Y’see, in Morrowind, you could literally kill anyone. Even the self-proclaimed living god Vivec. You’d be met with a type of error message telling you to reload or “continue in the doomed world you have created”. However DOS2 here actually doesn’t care who you kill, because progress can be found on journals, diaries, or keys on anyone’s body.

Character creation is a fun process. Not a lot on the physical customization because you mostly just play through a tiny avatar through most of the game, but the nuances come in the skillsets and “Origin” characters. You can customize your own but the game comes with about five of their own, and mercifully you can customize their actual class so you can change the Enchantress’s build to suit your personal playstyle (mine being rogue/assassin like people) regardless of how she usually starts as a default NPC.

Choosing one of them may be to your benefit as they get extra dialogues and experiences. I chose Lohse, an entertainer/bard type girl who once met a dwarf she was familiar with and despite the grim surroundings, had a bit of a musical duet together for about fifteen seconds and it was quite a sight to see. You’d miss such an interaction if you went just for a personal custom character.

The game begins on a prison ship, and Act 1 is placed on the prison island altogether. I didn’t like the idea of being shackled for a while but the game does a great job of giving you plenty to do in what is essentially the game’s over extended tutorial. The amount of freedom I was able to acquire was staggering, even in the confines of the ship itself which is only the first twenty minutes of the game or so. In it, I could bash down doors, find a secret key for some extra loot, and even backtracked to murder a guard that was rude to me earlier, after shit had hit the fan. It was awesome, and in that moment the game took me.

There’s a guy named “Griff”, the inmate who essentially ‘controls’ the other inmates, even going so far as protection rackets and food supplies (he runs the kitchen). There was a chestpiece called “Griff’s Shirt” on the ground, and he’s flanked by another vendor who occasionally patrols away. On a hunch, I decided to sneak behind him when that happened and steal his shirt. It worked! The item’s blurb says “It was Griff’s. Now it’s yours.” Then I saw the patrolling vendor run over yelling “Thief! There’s a criminal about!” I just ran off, not wanting to test the game’s impressive AI to see if it could find me as the thief if I lingered in the area too long. I returned later, wearing his shirt and nobody was the wiser (which may in itself be a weaker point in the AI).

There will be some spoilers for Act 1, though my actions are hardly the only ones you can take.

To continue on the same line of how insane this game is with options, with the help of one of my online friends… They led me to getting my collar removed, to which I was thrown into a dungeon for that. I don’t know how non-thieves get out of that but I was able to lockpick my way out, retrieve my gear, find a waypoint which allowed the transport of my teammates into the dungeon itself and we… proceeded to absolutely demolish the guards from the inside out. We basically cleared the island. It was great.

There are so many nuances to the game that aren’t outwardly apparent. You may notice as you traverse the landscape that your characters will get a variety of buffs like “wet” and “warm” which might turn to your detriment in combat when enemies cast spells to take advantage of those. The game is littered with oil spills, blood splatters, fiery explosions and puddles. Each one can be affected by a spell type. One time, I had my mage set some enemies on fire but when it turned out to be to my detriment (my melee characters couldn’t reach some of the enemies), I had her cast “rain” which didn’t just put the fires out, but actually creates a smoke screen which limited the enemies’ vision.

So many enemies use a spell to summon a slick of oil then promptly set it on fire. They’re not idiots.

Combat in this game does an excellent job of making sure you’re both aware of your surroundings, and then actually capitalizing on it.

There’s more to it the nuances than your combat. I was speaking to a lizard-raced bodyguard in a cave who was very standoffish to my own character. On another hunch based on some of this guy’s dialog, I switched to a different party member and spoke with him again. I switched to Ifan, an ex-soldier. Being a soldier himself, the lizard-man actually respected Ifan more and had more dialog to give and even had an extra discount on the few wares he sold.

Most of my RPG life is spent in the perspective of my own, and it is a bit refreshing to see that exploring other personalities is typically rewarded here.

As I said, I’ve only played through most of Act 1 so I do not have the full picture as far as the game will give me, but I am excited to find out, and more excited to the fact that there isn’t much I can get overtly wrong here.

If I had a complaint, it’d be the same complaint I have in many open world RPG’s. At a certain point my quest log gets bogged down by errands and scavenger hunts and it’s hard to tell which ones will be worth my time and what wouldn’t be. It’s also the one thing I feel I can actually get wrong - after having most of Act 1 down I still find myself with more than a few side quests, like finding a woman’s missing child and I’m not sure if I’ll be missing out on any potential rewards if I just give up and move on in the story.

It’s a minor point to be sure considering the freedom the game is able to give you.

There’s so many other side stories I could give. Like how my multiplayer friend had the only pet pal perk, spoke to some dogs and then I ran back towards them and they all went hostile. Or how my dwarf teammate met up with an old friend and had a chuckle. Or what the pet pal perk even does, talking to dogs is just pure gold. Many other stories to be had and I can’t wait to hear others.


Zydrate's avatar
Community review by Zydrate (September 26, 2017)

Zydrate is most active on Steam and Tumblr.

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