Isometric RPG games are at home on the PC of which they originated from. The famous Diablo series mastered this sub-genre and so spawning many that try on this intriguing and often successful style of game. Developers, as we know, are always trying something new to sell their game, more often than not, just adding features here and there to make their games feel different but underneath, they just end up being more of the same. Larian Studios have released Divinity: Original Sin for PC which is indeed yet another isometric RPG however Original Sin has a few tricks up its sleeve which definitely sets itself apart from the rest.
You play as a male and female user created “Source Hunters” who track down people who are interested in the use of “Sourcery” or magic to you and me. The story is filled with funny and light hearted dialogue separated between text and voice acted. Amongst the adventure, choices can be made in conversations although they have the same outcome but it is fun to see the different responses. There is no reputation system so ticking somebody off may earn you a punch up but there is no moral choice that change the way the story goes. Original Sin is laden with wonderful colourful characters to interact with, the two drunken sailors near the beginning is definitely a highlight. A lot of patience in needed within the first hour of the game as it’s unfortunately a slow burner.
Divinity is essentially an isometric role playing game similar to that of Diablo or Baldur’s Gate however plays different due to the dual protagonist mechanic. Dragging your character portraits apart allows you to control each character separately which helps with the games scarce puzzles however to proceed, you’re forced to go as a pair. There is a very complicated crafting feature which requires recipe books found throughout the game or purchased by an NPC. These teach you what components are needed to make a certain item and without them, it’s all down to experimentation which can be rewarding but its tedious work. Another difference between this game and the rest is its combat system. Divinity: Original Sin adopts turn based strategy when swords clash which is far from easy. Without paying attention, you will die.....a lot, more so because of the silly inclusion of enemies being able to execute free turns when you decide to retreat or move away. Although friendly characters can do this too, it makes the fighting harder than it should be and sucks the enjoyment out of it. Mastering the combat takes serious skill and strategy. Choosing the correct weapons and armour means success or failure and mastering the heavily implemented element system is a definite must. Apart from the obvious being water and fire, poison enters the fray which is weak against fire, it’s a case of rock paper scissors.
Levelling up is not easy either as enemies don’t re-spawn which may be good for some as it eliminates grinding and encourages exploration. It’s far too easy to wander into groups of enemies which are far superior to you though so you need to watch your step even if a feeble stealth mode is available. Questing works different to conventional RPG’s. There is no hand holding, no markers or pointers so completing quests means following the instructions you are given to the letter. Quest givers and goals are marked on the map but finding them is extremely tough.
An area that Divinity: Original Sin shines is its visuals. Environments are beautifully designed and nicely detailed and you don’t need a meaty rig to render it. Dark misty forestry, bright serene villages, caves and cliffs look amazing and houses can be entered without game-play cutting out to load what’s inside. Due to the slow pacing of the combat, the particle effects from special abilities or magic spells don’t hinder the frame rate but they do look good. Monsters look menacingly tough and boss characters are really intimidating as you know how hard the upcoming bout is going to be even by going by their looks.
All in all, Divinity: Original Sin is a nice albeit tough entry to the Diablo-esque sub-genre of RPG’s. The light hearted tone of the dialogue makes the story a decent one even if the first hour drags. That is of course if you’re able to master the overly tough combat and questing requirements. It sure is a pretty game though.
Story - 3/5
Game-play - 3/5
Graphics - 5/5
Overall - 3/5
Version reviewed - PC