Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
The summer of 2014 saw some serious heat records broken all across the world, but that wasn’t the only thing that was hot. One of a slew of successful Kickstarter games that took flight after securing funding, Divinity: Original Sin, was a throwback to old-school CRPGs (Computer Role-Playing Games) such as Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and the like. Indeed it captured the same magical feeling that those games engendered; building up a party of high fantasy characters, outfitting them with equipment and weapons that will hopefully complement one another, and then striking out on grand adventures. I for one lost many an hour playing them on my gaming PC, and even remember day turning into night, and then day again, without sleep, more than a few times.
However, Divinity: Original Sin took the CRPG genre further than its proud predecessors. In addition to featuring the invigorating co-op multiplayer component that those games did, Belgian game developer Larian Studios made theirs fully moddable. In fact, it even shipped with a full editing suite. The graphics were also more representative of modern times, and a far cry from the tiny pixilated ones from the golden days of CRPGs.
Well, just a year and a half later, the highly creative folks of Larian Studios are back at it again, this time with an enhanced version of Divinity: Original Sin, called—you guessed it, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition (say that several time real fast-gasp!). The newer version seeks to fix some of the buggy issues of the original (no pun intended), while cleaning up the interface, improving the gameplay, and buffing up the graphics. The result is nothing short of yet another masterpiece.
It must be said straight away that for those who like very involved character creation systems, Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition features one of the deepest ones I’ve seen since the equally outstanding CRPG, Pillars of Eternity. The sheer number of classes, specialties, skills and talents, items, etc., is almost overwhelming. Since you start off with two adventurers instead of the traditional one, it was extremely fun to mix and match different character combinations in order to suit your particular playstyle (or playstyles if you plan on playing cooperative multiplayer).
Should you match a tank-like Fighter or Knight with a plucky Ranger who can shoot arrows from afar? An Inquisitor class (new in Enhanced Edition) with their close-in, touch-range magical spells, and perhaps a steadfast Cleric for healing purposes? It’s all up to you, and experimenting with different class combinations is super-fun, if only you could customize their appearances a little more. And for those of you who think that only having two characters in your party is a little paltry, don’t worry, you can flesh it out with two additional members if you feel the need to, later on in your adventures.
Once you’ve created your characters, you are soon thrust directly into the game’s incredibly expansive world. You are cast as a couple of intrepid warriors who work for an organization bent of ridding the lands of evil magic users called Sourcerers, who harness a dangerous and shunned force known as (creatively enough) The Source. You begin in a city called Cyseal where you must seek out and interview various folks in order to find out who murdered an important person related to the overall main quest, although there are a multitude of side missions to choose from as well.
As a matter of fact, the game’s expansiveness can get a little overwhelming sometimes in that there is so much to do and so many quests to take on. The game’s lack of hand-hold-y tutorials only exacerbates the muddled and somewhat cluttered mission structure, but thankfully, you can see them all updated on your main overland map. Once you play the game for a few hours, the learning curve should be relatively mitigated by most gamers, however, allowing them to sink their teeth into Divinity’s deep storyline.
Combat is thankfully turn-based, which I much prefer to games which feature Real Time Strategy aspects. Similar to the X-Com series, each party member begins a combat round with a certain amount of action points, dictated by his or her class, gear, skills, and so forth. Once you run out of action points you end your turn and everything resets for the next round depending on how things turned out in the previous one. I found this thinking-man’s method of combat highly gratifying, as even the minutest choices can really affect the outcome of a conflict.
On a broader level, this emphasis on careful decision making also translates on a macro scale because they affect far-ranging events that transpire behind the scenes within Divinity’s gaming world. This gives you a sense that you’re not just a couple of cogs in a static story. Your choices have profound implications and so shouldn’t be made flippantly, else you trigger some not-so-good or even calamitous events that can throw a big wand into your adventure gaming machine.
The bumped-up graphics are very easy on the eyes, with lush environments that feature vignetting at the edges of the top-down view, and vibrant colors. You can also rotate the isometric display and zoom in and out, which is especially gorgeous for 4k gaming-capable folks. The sound is also handled well, with dramatic spell and combat notes, and minimal, high fantasy tunes to set the right mood.
In all, I found Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition to be a stellar upgrade to an already incredible game. It features unique turn-based combat, beautiful eye candy to behold, solid gameplay mechanics, and an involving (if a little generic) storyline. It is not an easy game to jump right into. However, with some patience and curiosity, you’ll be swinging swords and casting fireballs in no time.
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