Back in the PS2 era of gaming, there was a little-known RPG called Champions of Norrath. By “little known” I mean that I played it with my brothers, but no one else knew what I was talking about. In Champions of Norrath, you are tasked with freeing the land of Norrath from the tyranny of the demon/monster Innoruuk. While traveling through Norrath, my tiny 10-year-old self was blown away by the level of detail and options that I was able to put into my character. This was the first time I came across Skill Trees and actual Character Progress. It was in this game that I started to see all the hype behind tabletop games. Being sucked into a character is easier when I feel like I have had a hand I’m molding how that character reacts to the world. It was this feeling that gets amplified in Divinity Origin Sin II.
I don’t know why I missed the first Divinity game, but I knew when I saw Divinity II in action that I had to be part of that world. Let’s for one second forget about all the praise the game has gotten. Ignore all the spectacular things you have heard about this game. At its core, Divinity Original Sin II is about one thing: interaction. This first presented itself in the games opening moments. As you create your character you start to see just how in-depth this game actually is. It even advises you not to change any of the skills of the classes if this is your first time though. It wants you to get a feel for what a character can do before you mess with them.
You can also pick from an assortment of pre-generated characters with backstories that will come to light as you play them. These characters can be fun, but I always like to leave my own special mark on the world. Once you are done with the generator, you find yourself a slave on a ship being transported to an island for those who use Sorce Magic. The problem with Sorce magic is that it attracts creatures that feed on its power, thus you and several others like you have been enslaved in order to be cleansed of this disease.
While on the boat, things don’t go quite according to plan as a powerful Source user damages the vessel. From this point on the choices you make are your own. Because I created an elf, I had the ability to eat body parts of the dead and see visions, usually of their last moments alive. This changed the way I solved quests as I was always looking for something to eat in order to gain clues.
On my quest, I came across several locked doors. I turned to find clues to where keys could possibly be, but when I couldn’t find anything I decided to knock the door down with my weapon. In any other game, I would have been swatting at the door in vain, but not this one. It took no time for me to break down the door with my weapon.
With the door destroyed, so too was my thought process on how this world was supposed to work. I tried the same strategy with a treasure chest to varying degrees of success. I found that the best way to dispatch enemies was to sneak between their lines of sight and make a beeline for the strongest one. This put the others into a small state of confusion as they seem to be processing what just happened. Taking away their time to prepare for the battle by getting into a defensive formation turned the tide of battle my way a lot.
I also learned that fire was my most powerful ally and my most loathsome foe. I learned to plan out every avenue of attack and not to be afraid of trying something crazy. During a rescue mission, I teleported the person I was trying to save out of his prison only for him to be killed by his jailer. I scrapped that idea entirely and had to try something new. This is the mindset that D:OS II injects into your brain, one of infinite possibilities.
The story is your classic fantasy affair with a multiplayer twist. After killing or talking your way to freedom, you are tasked with staying alive long enough to figure out what is really going on. Not to mention that you have the worlds strongest Source User gunning for you. However, the main story wasn’t what drew me into the world. What really got to me was the depth of the NPC’s around me. Not only did they all have their own lives, dreams, and secrets but they also had unique personalities and responded differently to you depending on who you were playing as.
D:OS II has a underline racism running through it with other character being violent to races they deem are less than. There was a woman I met very early on who wouldn’t say anything to me because I was an elf. I also had an interesting conversation with a kid who thought I killed people and ate them for fun. I mean, I do. Sometimes. But this kid didn’t need to know what my elf did in his spare time.
Combat is a beautiful and frustrating process. On the one hand, you can enter a fight with doing everything right and end up destroying all the opposition with minimal effort. On the other hand, I have entered fights I didn’t even know was thereby triggering traps that I didn’t see coming in order to fight the wave of monsters I wasn’t prepared for. Live by the sword I suppose.
Different characters can combine attacks in order to create a devastating situation for the enemy. For instance, spreading oil everywhere and then throwing a fireball does about what you will expect to happen. One of the worst deaths you can occur comes at your own hands when you forget about footing. In this game, I learned just how important save scumming is. If I even sneezed the wrong way I would reload an earlier save.
If I had to give the game any criticism it would have to be the map and direction system. While playing in an open world like Skyrim, you’d think you’d spend a lot of time getting lost. However, I always seemed to know where I was going and how I was going to get there. Quest were laid out and I never got frustrated. Divinity Original Sin II is another story altogether.
I frequently get lost while playing. I get it, that’s part of the experience. When I was younger I wouldn’t have minded playing four hours and only progressing one mission because I seemed to just be walking in circles. As an adult with limited time, this sort of thing irks me to no end. I would like to know exactly where I’m going and where I want to go next. Maybe put the mindless exploration in a harder difficulty. I’m not saying it doesn’t deserve a place in the game, what I’m saying is I don’t have the time I used to devote to getting lost.
If you have not played Divinity Original Sin II, then I can not recommend it enough. There are even more things for you to do in this world than what I have listed. You can talk to animals, pickpocket quest items off of people after you finish the quest, murder anyone in sight, it is totally up to you. If you want a deeply involving game that will force you to think outside the box when it comes to combat, looting, mission, interactions, and a whole host of other features than this is the game for you.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Graphics - 10/10
Story - 9/10
Gameplay - 10/10
A Master Class in RPGs
+ Freedom of choice when it comes to quest
+ Multiple different paths to explore and conquer
+ World feels alive
– Way to easy to get lost in and the story beats need help with direction sometimes.