Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is an excellent modern combat RPG

"You Should Try" is a series of articles where I'll showcase you a game I really enjoy while explaining what exactly makes it fun. This can be any game, new or old, indie or AAA, the only requirement is that it has to be something I've found myself greatly enjoying and in need of sharing with the world.

Today I think you should try Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition, a combat orientated turn-based RPG that offers you a myriad of ways to blast away your enemies in either singleplayer, or co-op multiplayer with someone who will hopefully remain your friend even after you accidentally lob a fireball straight at their nether regions.

 

Video version of this article (8:30 minutes)

Before I go over anything else, its worth mentioning that even though Divinity features co-op multiplayer, the entire game is perfectly beatable in singleplayer alone. The only issue you will ever run in to while playing solo is that sometimes you will be required to hold an argument... between yourself and yourself! Its a bit weird, I'll be the first one to admit that, but if you're willing to suspend your sanity for a couple of minutes and roleplay as two completely different people you will be able to enjoy the same sort of thing the multiplayer version offers.

On the other hand, if you have a friend who shares your love for RPGs and doesn't mind the occasional difficulty spike, you will find that Divinity offers the type of gameplay experience not commonly found elsewhere. With some rather difficult battles and friendly fire being permanently on you will need to plan ahead, use the environment to your advantage whenever possible, combine spells and effects with devastating results, and most importantly, prop each other's weaknesses in order to ensure you actually make it out alive, and not as a brand new chew toy for a zombie dog.

Divinity: Original Sin has some lovely spell effects

Nothing illuminates the darkness better than a fireball to the face

You might accidentally hit each other every now and then, but as long as you don't make it a frequent occurrence it will simply be one of those things that make for a hilarious story down the line. For example, I still remember one moment early in the game when me (a mage) and my friend (a melee orientated rogue) were fighting a bunch of bloated, disgusting zombies. Since they were proving to be tougher opponents than anyone could've expected we decided to employ a good old fashioned fireball scroll against them, as gas-filled zombies tend to light up like Christmas candles when touched by even the slightest ember.

Unfortunately for my friend, we learned that zombies also tend to explode violently when you force-feed them a generous serving of fireball, a realization that resulted in my friend getting completely engulfed in flames and now desperately searching through his inventory for anything that might save him from his fiery demise. While he was scrambling through his backpack I managed to remain calm and observant, and so I spotted an entire barrel of water just laying around in the middle of nowhere, an incredible stroke of fortune!

Triumphantly I used my telekinesis skill to lift the barrel and smash it over my friend... only to realize that the symbol I thought was water actually represented oil, and that I had just chucked an entire barrel full of easily flammable liquid on someone was already struggling with a fire-based problem... woops!

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition has friendly fire on by default

This is why you should always check if you're standing in a puddle before you whip out the storm-arrows

While all of that seems like an elaborate joke that happens only once in a lifetime, the truth is that nearly every encounter in Divinity has some sort of environmental effect, or interesting object placement that facilitates unique and exciting engagements. It doesn't always have to be fancy either, simply putting a hill or a couple of trees in the way will greatly affect the course of a battle, as will the addition of a single barrel of oil, or perhaps a bunch of explosive enemies you can then teleport straight into the biggest cluster of bad guys, and then detonate with hilarious results.

Choice is the bread and butter when it comes to the combat in Divinity. You not only have to make choices on which talents to take, which spells to learn, and what class to play, but also make sure to use the appropriate spell at the most opportune time, and this is harder than it sounds since a single character can have upwards of 20 spells, without even including grenades or other such consumable items.

As you might imagine, there are some spells and combinations that are almost always good, spells such as the fireball or flaming butterfly, but there is also an incredible amount of niche buffs and effects that have an enormous impact if used at the right time, and it is this process of figuring out the "when and why" that makes Divinity so compelling to me.

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition offers some great spell combos to try out

What's happening here? No idea, but all of the enemies just went kaboom!

Simply having a lot of choices, however, doesn't mean the gameplay has any depth to it, as many have learned for the first time with the launch version of Diablo 3 that sported something around ~200 spell permutations per class, with only ~10 of those being even worthy of consideration. Thankfully, the combat in Divinity (especially on the harder difficulties) manages to be just that right amount of annoying that it forces you to think outside of the box, without ever becoming so annoyingly difficult that it makes you want to tear your hair out, chuck your mouse at the wall, and smash the hypothetical box with a very real, and very heavy hammer.

The reason Divinity manages to do this is because the difficulty is handled through what I like to call the "everything is equally unfair" principle. You can create massive storm clouds that stun enemies for multiple turns if they're unlucky enough to be stuck within one, but on the other hand, they can do so as well! You can counter this by either avoiding the area the storm will hit, drinking a potion of air protection, or applying some sort of resistance buff to yourself, but so can they! You can decimate your opponents in a couple of hits, thus making your spells and abilities always feel powerful and awesome, but much like your opponents, you can't take a lot punishment either.

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is equally unfair

Knocking over things four times your size while dishing out bad puns... this is the good life!

When you combine this with some extremely stylish graphics and sound effects, you get a combat system that is exciting both in terms of strategy, but also in terms of spectacle. Corralling your enemies in to a tight spot, oiling them up and setting them ablaze with a gigantic fireball is satisfying enough from a "plan well done" sort of perspective, but the impressive visual effects and the WOOSH of the fireball as it flies towards its destination only serve to make an already great combat system feel even better.

And speaking of the combat system, I have very few complaints as it manages to be difficult but fair, chaotic yet still understandable, and most importantly, filled with a whole bunch of background objects, effects, and traps that you can use to approach each encounter in your own personal way. Whether that be through the use of overwhelming force, clever application of area of effect abilities that force enemies to bunch together, or whatever else comes to your mind.

The one complaint I will level against the combat system is that the first few levels are unnecessarily harsh as you only have access to a measly few spells, spells that don't tend to get their job done very well when you have an entire menagerie of the undead chasing after you.

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition features some lovely hand drawn cinematics

Did I mention how lovely the cinematic art is?

You may have noticed at this point that I've only focused on the combat aspects of Divinity and what exactly I find great about them. There is a good, or rather bad reason for this, and its the fact that the story is generic at best, and completely laughable at worst. Even after going through a complete rewrite with the Enhanced Edition the story in Divinity manages to somehow be simultaneously self-aware and cheesy, but also completely serious and melodramatic, which is a combination that makes for some cringe-worthy storytelling.

To give you a spoiler free example, there is one moment where a character discusses the upcoming end of time itself, a rather serious matter given that we are talking about the end of everything. The dialogue is adequately ominous, and it foreshadows the arrival of some rather nasty things, but its instantly followed up on by numerous crappy puns, one after another. I have no problem with puns, I even consider myself a connoisseur of shitty jokes, but if you're trying to tell a serious story, tell a serious story! You can't just mix and match two completely different styles of writing, and two completely different tones in to the same dialogue and expect everything to work out fine and dandy, bekuz dat dun wurk so gud.

That short rant aside, the dialogue is not badly written and the background lore is genuinely interesting, so if you do decide to play Divinity make sure to read all of the books you encounter, talk to the NPCs, and overall try to soak in the world and its atmosphere, just don't expect the main story to ever go anywhere, because it most certainly doesn't.

Closing Thoughts

Divinity: Original Sin is one of my favorite modern RPG, a fact that I've proven to myself by playing through it three times now with the exact same class! The mixture of nasty encounters, great spell variety, and plenty of elemental combinations means that each and every encounter can go a completely different way depending on what sort of a tactical approach you choose to use this time around.

I'll be the first one to say that Divinity is not a perfect game, but if you're looking for an exciting combat RPG to play with a friend (or even alone) there are very, very few games that do this sort of thing in a better, and more enjoyable way than Divinity. In other words, you should try Divinity: Original Sin - Enhanced Edition, it has managed to provide me with countless hours of fun, and hopefully it will do the same for you.

Looking for more interesting games to play? How about Lords of the Fallen, a Dark Souls inspired action RPG that brings with a unique, but familiar take on the standard Souls formula.

Please Log In to post a comment