Gamers will always debate over something or another whether it be which character is strongest, which female character is hotter or what the game of the year should be. It will always boil down to personal preference. One of the oldest debates around has to do with RPGs, whether Japanese or Western-style games are better. Personally, I have probably played a lot more JRPG, having grown up on (formerly) Square and Enix staples Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior (Quest). I would not say that makes them better than titles like Elder Scrolls or Diablo. The best course of action for any gamer into RPGs would be to just try both styles and stick with what works for them. This is what I chose to do with Larian Studios Divinity: Original Sin. Originally for the PC, I missed out on the initial release of this game being a hardcore console gamer. Due to the success the title enjoyed in 2014, Larian teamed with Focus Home Interactive to make this a console-accessible RPG. Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition looks to capture the same magic of the title’s original version with the use of a gamepad instead of a mouse and keyboard combination. Even I will bow my head to the superiority in precision that PC control offers, but let’s see what can be accomplished on current-gen consoles.
This story takes place before Divine Divinity and The Dragon Knight Saga.
EVIL AT IT’S “SOURCE” The story begins (not so) innocently enough on the shores of Cyseal. You and your companion are dispatched to solve a murder. By trade, you are Source Hunters and you are supposed to stop Sourcerers. The reason you are onthis particular mission is because Cyseal is besieged by an Orc navy and the town is full of undead. Your bosses figure that Source magic is at behind all of this. If things were that simple, you would probably wrap this case up in no time. However, every clue you find piles more and more questions and puzzles on your case and you have quite the long road ahead. If you like linear adventures then stop right here because this is not the game for you. While there are multiple endings, you do not simply choose your path. Pretty much everything you do from how you create your characters at the very beginning affects how you proceed. It is easy to see why the original PC version was so highly praised because the story almost feels alive. Who you talk to, how you talk to them and what interactions you choose help determine where you could wind up next and whether you will make it there in one piece.
YOU ARE IN CONTROL… MAYBE I mentioned earlier that every move you make can change how your game plays. I happen to be one of those “game til you literally drop” individuals that have blacked out with the game in progress. That is a really bad idea in this game and not just because of monsters. Where you step can hurt and even kill you. You learn early on that the environment itself can be a puzzle where you have to figure out the best way to proceed. There is no manual for Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition, at least, not if you get it digitally. There is a good amount of tutorial information available in-game but most of that is telling you that trial and error is the name of the game. If your path is physically blocked, moving or destroying something may be the answer, just remember that your sword is not the best “key” as it can break. The floor may be on fire or covered with poison, but remember that what can hinder you can also do the same to enemies. Larian tried to add some real world problem solving into the mix when you are trying to get from point A to B and that straight line is not the best way. As you move forward you inevitably may be looking back at earlier decisions such as who you selected to accompany you. Your AI comrade will always be on your side but they may not agree with your choices. In one situation I wanted to help someone and she saw more profit in exploiting them; in another I wanted to avoid a fight with some guards while she wished to show them who’s boss. When you butt heads like this, a game of rock, paper, scissors begins and whoever gets to ten points first wins the argument. This also happens when you butt heads with NPCs and is one of a ton of reasons to save frequently. As much as a game like Dark Souls is going to kill you repeatedly, Divinity is going to make you feel like you could have handled a situation better, whether or not you lived through an encounter. Being able to save on the fly is a blessing, I just wish the quick save were actually. . . quick. I really enjoy the way this game simply is not your friend. You literally have to exploit the land to your benefit every step of the way. A battle that was easy to your friend may take you a few tries all because they found and used an exploit you did not. The simplest way I can think of to describe the game is to say that the world before you is the coyote and you have to manage to be the road runner at any given time. The need to think is sadly going to turn some gamers away from Divinity: Original Sin; Leroy Jenkins will not get far in this world. However, if you can appreciate and enjoy a game that embraces the D&D board game elements of RPGs, you will have a lot of fun .
CONSOLE PORT DONE RIGHT I am a strong proponent of the “graphics not making the game” philosophy and always point back at the classic Katamari Damacy to illustrate that. Regardless, when a game looks good, that is a wonderful thing. That can be greatly hindered when a game is ported down, so to speak, from PC to console. I don’t want to point any *cough*Arcania*cough* fingers but we all know that things happen. Fortunately this is not the case with Divinity as Larian and Focus Home Interactive took great care to bring all the visual glory of the original to current-gen game consoles. I mentioned earlier that the story begins on a beach; immediately you can turn around and see beautiful water effects and not far from the starting point there is a waterfall that feeds a river where you can again see how beautiful water looks in this game. I always look at the water because as the one thing in a game that is always moving, the level of detail in water shows really how much work is put into animation and graphical detail for a game. In that department, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition lives up to its surname. I am a sucker for simple things and just being able to zoom in and out in this game is a really nice touch. The search feature can help make sure you do not miss any items, but the close up view lets you better enjoy the scenery, even in the dank dungeons. Smoke effects when fire is extinguished, the way lightning chains over wet areas and even the death animation of my character that I see way too often. These are a few of the beautifully animated moments you see while playing this game on console. Of course it is going to look better on an optimized PC, but the bottom line is that by no means does this game look like a cheap port. Instead, it looks like it was originally made for consoles.
IF THE GAUNTLET DOESN’T FIT I knew before I played this game that it would have a steep learning curve for me specifically because of the type of RPG i am used to. I almost did not play the game for that reason but then I learned about the cooperative features. Having your friends along is fantastic in a game where a different point of view can save you. Unfortunately I made the mistake of thinking this game played like Gauntlet with up to four friends. In fact, each person has a comrade they control so whether you play split screen at home or buddy up online, the maximum number of players is two. It is a minor gripe, but I think allowing for four players would have been awesome. Regardless, the coop is great because once again you get to decide how to proceed. If you are tackling a quest where you need to hit more than one area to find the answer, you can split up to achieve things more efficiently. Conversely, if you should run into a monster you are having a particularly hard time with, four attackers will fare better than two. Just be extra careful of where your partner’s group is standing because you would not want to ignite a patch of oil to dispatch a monster if your friend is also standing in it. Then again, maybe you would like to do that. No one says that you have to work together just because you are in the same game. It is a wonderful thing that you can be playing in the same world yet not actually be playing together. It feels more like a sandbox experience in that aspect even though ultimately it is going to make sense to help one another. This game is all about doing whatever you want to do but you have to remember that your partner may do the same. Depending upon your success rate, you might need a new friend!
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition feels as though it were designed for game consoles. I have never played the original PC version, but the game does not feel as though something is missing. I never have a problem navigating the map aside from figuring out how to get past an obstacle. While playing with others, I did not feel like the game was suddenly broken and that the coop feature was thrown in or anything of the sort. These are important to note simply because the game is a port and that word has been a stigma on so many console titles before it. This “enhanced edition” is exactly that. The game was made to feel natural on a console and care was taken to make sure that as much as possible, the visuals would not suffer. Additional levels of difficulty were added to extend the replay value of the game. To be honest, unless you have played the PC version, you are probably going to want to start on the easier modes. The tutorial dungeon can and will kill you if you are not careful. Said tutorial really only gives you the basics and you have to read all of the information given to you in order to grasp the reins of the game. If you think of Divinity like riding a bicycle then you are on the right track as you will fall repeatedly as you get better. When you get the hang of it, think of the game more like a motorcycle. At this point you know what you are doing but one mistake can mean a grizzly death, even if it wasn’t your fault. This is where enjoyment for this game comes from. You know that it is difficult and you may struggle at certain points but there will be satisfaction when you get over the hurdles before you. You will be able to progress through the entire game solo but you may find it more fun to play with someone else if that is an option for you. I strongly recommend that RPG fans pick up Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition and find their own path. There are many different experiences to be had in the game and it is one of those titles where the price tag is more than warranted.