Inside Pulse 12

Review: Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition (Sony PlayStation 4)

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
Genre: Role Playing
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Focus Interactive
Release Date: 10/27/15

Over the years, RPGs in general have twisted and turned in a myriad of different ways to create new takes on the collective genre. Some of these variations have created winning formulas that we’ve grown to appreciate and love… while others have been disappointing misses at best. It’s the unfortunate truth, however, that the majority of us have forgotten the roots of the genre, as few games come out that stay true to those roots in these days of Persona, Sword Art Online, and even Elder Scrolls. Though it may be lost on the newer generations of gamers, Larian Studios Divinity: Original Sin elegantly emulates those lost days of RPG gaming with meticulous passion and detail that is so unbridled in its execution that it’s enough to bring an old dungeon master to tears. Tears of joy, that is.

Divinity sees you start off with two customizable main characters with the titles of “source hunters”. Source hunters are tasked with tracking down and eliminating a deadly form of magic know as Source which plagues the realm of Rivellon, where all the Divinity games take place. You characters arrive in the town of Cyseal to investigate the murder of a chancellor believed to be by the hands of a “sourcerer,” and it falls to them to investigate… though the plot goes far beyond that point as things go on. As the plot progresses, you’ll travel across the world, and across dimensions, in your quest to solve the murder (among other things), and the game is rife with intrigue and plot twists alongside its fantasy concepts. Some of the plot elements feel too familiar, but overall the story here is different enough that it’s interesting and keeps the game going strong until the end, and it’s a good compliment to the old-school mechanics of the experience.

The first thing you’ll likely notice about Divinity is that with the exception of a few tutorial pop ups explaining the most basic of details, the game pretty much keeps you in the dark with everything. It will be entirely up to you to complete quests, as the game does not feature automatic waypoints for you to easily follow, nor do quests really reveal their conclusion goals upfront for the most part. You’ll have to use your own powers of deduction to put together the pieces of most quests and tasks. This involves who to talk to, when, and after what points in the quest trail. It can be quite taxing, but it makes the experience of questing all the more rewarding. The absence of hand holding with quests is yet another hark back to the golden age of RPGs, and it makes solving quests quite satisfying, especially when you can do so entirely on your own.

The combat in Divinity is also no exception to the classic construction theme, as it takes many of its cues from the yesteryear of RPG gaming. Working with a turn based system similar to the original Fallout titles, characters in your party have a set number of action points that they can use to move, strike with equipped weapons or use skills. Any given encounter can turn sour in a turn, so it’s imperative to think carefully about your every move. The stat and perk systems herein are considerably complex and deep, leaving a great deal of customization available as well, so you can build your characters however you wish. Tinkering with the various statistics of your characters can change them in drastic ways, so much so that saving before allocating skill points isn’t a bad idea. Again though, these deep systems compliment the classic RPG formula Divinity is aiming to replicate, and in this specific product it is most welcome. Even crafting requires you to know the recipe yourself, as the game won’t prompt you that you have a compatible combination. Fortunately, your recipes are stored in your log book, which acts as your major hub for clues and information as to what needs to be done. You can play the game on your own if you wish, though in a nice concession to modern expectations, Divinity also offers a coop mode that can be played locally or online, seeing each player taking the role of one of the starting two protagonists, so you can get friends into the experience as well.

Graphically, Divinity’s world is lush, vibrant, and detailed, and while it’s not the most impressive game on the PS4, it does a lot with the hardware, and does it well. The game offers several zoom modes, and even when zoomed all the way in, the detail on the characters and environments is quite impressive. There’s a nice amount of variety to the zones and characters you’ll see as well, and the game doesn’t feel repetitive at all as you traverse the world. On the audio side, one of my favorite elements of Divinity 2: Ego Draconis was its amazing soundtrack, and while I don’t find Original Sin’s to be quite as great, it’s still really good. It’s also important to note that this enhanced version of the game features quality voice acting for all characters and NPCs. Given the amount of dialogue and dialogue options, I must say that is quite impressive.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Divinity: Original Sin is a masterpiece love letter to the golden age of RPG gaming. While the lack of hand holding, tutorials, and active waypoints might turn off the more causal player, old school RPG fans couldn’t do more of a disservice to themselves by not checking this game out. It truly is a classic diamond in the rough.