Elaine of Astolat (ladyofastolat) wrote,
Elaine of Astolat
ladyofastolat

Divinity Original Sin

Divinity Original Sin is a computer game, and I like it. There. That's probably all that most people reading this need to know.

If, however, you want my long ramblings about this game and how it compares to Baldur's Gate - my Best Game Ever that has long reigned unchallenged - read on.



Since time immemorial, my favourite computer game has been Baldur's Gate (1 and 2), which I love for its blending of good role-playing - especially with the NPC companions in the second game - and tactical battles. I love controlling 6 different characters, and having total control over their equipment, skills and their actions in every fight. No RPG that gives me control over just one character is ever likely to displace BG in my affections (although I did also very much love the original Thief game, which was a first- person game.) Neverwinter Nights (NWN) never quite made it for me, because although you could issue broad general instructions to your companions, you didn't have that total control that you had in BG. It turned battles from being complex tactical challenges, to being a few minutes of my lone paladin hitting things in real time.

I also liked the difficulty level of BG. In the first game, in particular, you really had to work for your level-ups. Your inventory spaces were limited, so you had to make choices about what to carry. Skill points came sparingly, so you really had to think about where you put them. You had to ration your spells and healing when out in the wilds, because resting tended to lead to nasty attacks. In this, too, I felt that NWN fell short. You could sleep or save any time, anywhere, and it never gave me the sense of danger that I got in BG, when out in the wilderness with one spell left, a dozen arrows between us, and orcs howling in the dark.

But now we have Divinity Original Sin, and finally - finally! - I have a game that can stand shoulder to shoulder with BG in my affections. You start by creating two characters, and you can pick up two companions. Once you've picked them up, as with BG, you control everything about them: their equipment, their skills and their battle tactics. When you get into a fight, everything stops, and each character goes one at a time - depending on their initiative roll - until they've either used up all their action points, or chosen to carry some over until next time. A single battle against half a dozen opponents can take well over half an hour, most of it spent thinking.

The roleplaying is well done, too. Your two main characters can disagree over things, and have arguments about how to proceed. Character traits are then awarded as a result of the things you've said. Sometimes you simply can't agree, and have to resolve things with a game of rock, paper, scissors (but not lizard, Spock.) It's witty, too, with well-written and often amusing dialogue. If you give yourself the "talk to animals" skill, you can even chat to animals, which leads to some of the most amusing exchanges in the game.

It's a game that works just as well in two player mode as in single player. We're playing it as a two-player co-operative game, in which we each created one character, and each control one of the NPCs. As far as I can tell, there's really no difference between it as a single player game or a co-operative game, except in the number of characters you get to control. This is quite refreshing, since we've played far too many NWN mods that claim to work as two player games, but really… don't.

Another thing I like - and this isn't something you get in BG - is the effective lack of character classes. Yes, you pick a starting character class, but that just determines your starting attributes and skills - and they're customisable, anyway. After that, as you level up, there's no limit on what skills you put points into. "Skills" include such things as weapon skills (e.g. "two handed"), magic (e.g. fire magic), saving throws (e.g. willpower), personality skills (e.g. leadership, bartering) and rogue type skills. In reality, you're going to focus on maxing out a few skills, since there are clear benefits there, but there's nothing to stop you being, for example, an awesome archer and an awesome fire mage, who suddenly decides to take up pickpocketing on the side.

Or, rather, there's little to stop you. One of my few gripes with the game is that it is biased towards magic users. I won't go into the details, but in short, it's a lot easier for a mage to branch out - to start using other types of magic - than it is for someone who started life as a fighter to take up magic. Also, mages can take steps to reduce the cooldown time of their spells, but the cooldown time for fighter skills can never be changed - and are usually very long.

But overall, I think it's an excellent game. We've almost finished now, and I'm desperately putting off the awful moment of actually finishing it forever. But once that happens, I'm sure we'll be replaying it very soon.
Tags: games, reviews
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