I’ve come to realise that I play RPGs for a very different reason than some other people. I like them for exploration, character and story. If you don’t do those things for me, I probably won’t enjoy it. I’m not so into granular stats based games and it’s from that perspective that I’ll be looking at Divinity: Original Sin. I know people love this sort of thing, but it just isn’t for me.
Divinity: Original Sin takes place in the land of Rivellon. Dark magic drawn from a power known as the Source plagues the land and your protagonists are two Source Hunters, members of an ancient order, who arrive in the town of Cyseal, which is besieged by the undead. Councilor Jake, a respected local politician, has been brutally murdered and what begins as a simple investigation spins off into a grander story involving dark forces which threaten the entire land.
There are some elements of the story which I enjoyed, but by and large there was absolutely nothing here that hasn’t been done much better elsewhere. The big weakness is the characters, who I found pretty much impossible to care about. The game is flexible and responsive to your actions, which is really cool, but the actual writing doesn’t really back up the ambition. The writing is at its best when it focuses on comedy and weirdness, such as a mission about reuniting a decapitated zombie with it’s body or match making between two cats. When we get to the ominous end of the world eldritch evil stuff it all gets a lot less interesting.
Divinity: Original Sin is an old school isometric RPG, a genre I have very limited experience with. In fact, the only one I can think of that I’ve played is Fallout 2. The first thing you do when you start up is create your two characters. There are a lot of options, which I liked, with a range of classes. I went for a ranger archer and a sneaky rogue because I knew a warrior and wizard join the party soon after. Building up your character is a strong element, with a range of different attributes and ‘talents’ allowing you to put together a character however you please. The main draw is presumably the combat, which isn’t really my sort of thing. I ultimately found it boring and frustrating, although the element that I did like was the emphasis on environmental factors. For example, if you cast lightning on a puddle everything wet will be paralysed. Exploiting the environment is probably the most unique element of the combat here, but all told I got pretty sick of it pretty fast. It’s not that I don’t enjoy turn based tactical RPGs (I adore Fire Emblem) but this approach just does not appeal to me in any way.
The quality of quests is something of a mixed bag here. Some are pretty dull, but a lot of them are really funny and charming. I liked how responsive the game could be to your actions, with a genuine range of ways to approach most quests. Many games promise choice but don’t really follow through, but Divinity: Original Sin really does. It’s just a shame that the actual bread and butter gameplay didn’t hook me at all.
Exploration is possibly the biggest factor in my enjoyment of an RPG, but I felt pretty much zero incentive to explore Rivellon. The art style wasn’t particularly appealing and offered little of interest, with the environments essentially being standard fantasy fare. The voice acting isn’t great; some characters are done a lot better than others, but so much of it is cringe worthy and immersion breaking. World building is hugely important to me and I simply wasn’t invested enough in the land of Rivellon to care. If I will say something nice for the presentation, it’s that the music is very good.
I didn’t like Divinity: Original Sin, but I wouldn’t call it a bad game by any stretch. I can only review my own experiences and I honestly didn’t like this game. I took a punt of this one and I wasn’t sure if I’d like it and I’m sad that I didn’t. This is a generous game that, from the general consensus online, seems to succeed in the goals it sets for itself, but those goals simply aren’t ones which align with my tastes.