Divinity: Original Sin 2 is one of the finest PC games ever crafted and a true must-buy for any RPG fan. Here’s why.
Belgian developer Larian Studios has been working on the Divinity franchise for over fifteen years now. I remember first laying hands on Divine Divinity, the first game in the series. It was released on three cd-rom discs and one of the largest games I had on my hard drive at the time. Fast forward fifteen years and you’re looking at an installation that’s close to twenty times that size – and my computer doesn’t even have a disc drive anymore.
Original Sin 2 takes place many years after the events of the first Original Sin game. Magic has been outlawed by Alexandar the Innocent – and it just so happens that you’re one of those inhabitants of the game world who’s aligned with exactly that – magic, or Source as it’s called here. Starting off on a prison island, you soon form a party of Source users and start on your quest to oppose Alexandar’s will. With this being a fantasy game, your party can consist of non-human characters like dwarves and elves as well – and you’re free to choose from a range of pre-made characters or craft your own.
About two hours after your adventure starts, you begin to notice how non-linear everything is. There are mission objectives, fights that play out as turn-based tactical battles and plenty of non-player characters to speak to – yes besides the general idea of your party’s purpose you’re pretty much free to build your own adventure, so to speak. This isn’t just different from something like Diablo or even Tyranny, it’s downright impressive from a gameplay design point of view. Like Tyranny though, your choices have a lot of consequences in Original Sin 2.
Some of these choices revolve around how you respond to characters in conversation, while others will depend on how you resolve (or do not resolve) mission objectives. Party dynamics can also change in the middle of the game based on the choices you make – with valued party members leaving your crew because they no longer feel like your actions align with their moral compass. The entire game world feels intricate, alive, and as if every playthrough will result in a different adventure depending on who’s playing and how you’re playing it. For this to be true from start to finish (people even react different when you play as another race), is very impressive indeed.
Combat and exploration both benefit from environmental interactions. Fighting from a higher elevation increases your chances of success, and destroying parts of your surroundings can either open up new areas or provide tactical advantages – including “area of effect damage” if foes are near the destruction when it happens. Tactical combat becomes even more multi-layered when you play the game cooperatively (with up to four players), but I’ve only briefly sampled this mode as I’m more of a single player adventurer myself. The environment also frequently plays a role in the puzzles you encounter, so it’s not just combat.
The audiovisual presentation of Original Sin 2 is another step up from the “enhanced edition” we got of the original game. This is true visually, but also in terms of how much voice acting is present in the game. The increased visual detail also helps in exploring, as secrets can be found by carefully looking at the environment around you. These secrets can include valuables that you find, or might even open up new quest lines for you to follow (or ignore).
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a milestone achievement for Larian Studios and for RPG gaming in general. It takes the choice-driven gameplay of Tyranny, excellent turn-based combat and a wealth of narrative discovery and blends it together into a wonderful RPG mix that is a game of the year contender already.