Divinity: Original Sin – review

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Game Review

After a friend bought me this game, I have found myself playing it quite a lot.  But I found myself, when asked about the game, not really knowing initially whether it was a good or a bad game, and so in the interests of clarity, I am going to write a review of my experiences here, and then write other posts on getting the most out of the game (links at the top of the page).

Brief Summary

Good Points

 Bad Points

1. The game is interesting
2. The world is engaging
3. The quests are varied
4. Puzzles and treasure add interest
5. Combat is fun and challenging
1. There are a lot of quest bugs
2. Crafting is about as non-intuitive as you can get
3. Exploring too far can block useful features until near end-of game
4. Bag sorting is a pain
5. Not enough combat for level 2-5

Character Creation

Although there are many options in character creation, it gave me a bad first impression of the game because it stopped short on features.  Although most are there, you cannot, for instance, change the bodyshape of your character, other than male or female.  You cannot make a slender male, for they are ALL a standard hulk size, while the females are all curvy and busty.  Hair and beard you can change, but you cannot change the shape of the face itself.

While these give an annoying first impression, it should be noted that while in the game, you actually don’t see your characters that close up again, and so such things are not really to be noticed.  It really doesn’t affect the game after you get out of the character creation screen.

UI

The UI in the game is fairly well done and straight forward.  I didn’t really have too many issues with it, although the map could certainly do with having the names of the different portals on them to make navigating them easier.

Skills, Talents and Levelling up

The skills and talents you get have been fairly well thought out and in combat they work well.  I do feel however that players are sort of limited if they want to do a pure non-mage character.  It seems like you are meant to supplement whatever skills you choose with mage skills.  While mages tend to have a feast of spells to choose from, Warriors, rogues and rangers I feel could have done with having more choice.

In the most part, I havn’t had many problems with levelling up, except for a brief time between the levels of level 2 and level 5.  When you get to level 6 and onwards there are plenty of mobs to fight and questing goes naturally through those.  However before that time players are likely still trying to find enough people to fill their party, and without that you are going to struggle with even the very limited number of mobs at your level.  This means that you tend to be stuck trying to do quests in town for a long time trying to level up and get useful skills, which limits gameplay.  However once you get to level 6 and have a full party things will go much smoother.

Party Dynamics

You start out with your two main characters, but as you progress in the game you can pick up up to two more party members (assuming you do not pick the ‘lone wolf’ talent which will decrease your party size by one for each character with the talent).

There are currently two npc’s you can pick up in a town to join your party, and then later there is a place to get hirelings.  The npcs you find have some interaction with your characters, while the hirelings are completely silent and have no discernible personality.  I hear more npcs are going to be added with future updates of the game.  Personally I found the current npcs annoying, so I was more than happy to have silent hirelings.

Quests

I have found the quests fun and interesting and the variety of types of quests is good, although there are bugs that are evident.

Because the game doesn’t actually hold your hand through things, sometimes it can be difficult in telling whether something -is- a bug, or whether you just have not quite searched enough.  This is not helped by the fact that the journal does not clearly demarcate whether quests are side quests, or part of the main quest, and whether that side quest is map-specific. Some quests span over several maps and cannot be completed immediately, while others are just difficult to figure out.

Overall though the quests are good, and I expect the bugs will be improved upon in later patches.

Puzzles

There are various puzzles within the game.  They are not critical to the plot for the most part, so you can skip most of them should you so desire.

It should be noted that the game does not hold your hand through these puzzles.  In fact in some cases I feel that they could have given a little bit more information or ways to get hints as to even what direction you should be looking.  While half of the time I knew vaguely what to do or I found it fairly easy to understand, the other half I didn’t even know where to begin (‘Talking statues’, I am looking at you!) and ended up asking google for tips.

The puzzles are quite interesting though.  There are parts of quests that you have to puzzle through how to get from A to B, and those are interesting, especially since in general many of these quests have offered up a couple of ways to complete them.

Combat

divinity-combatI really like the combat.  It is turn based and so you can really take your time (should you wish to) to work out the best strategies of winning.  Some of the fights can be really long, but thankfully the game allows you to quicksave during combat, so should the fight suddenly turn against you, you don’t need to start from the beginning again.

The combat lineup is based on each character/npc initiative, you can use the environment surrounding you to make line-of-sight and tactical decisions, or create your own with spells.

Overall the combat is fun and challenging.  Because the game does not have respawning mobs, they have ensured that the combat itself is challenging enough so you can’t just steamroll through it.  For me, the combat is one of the main strong-points in the game.

Crafting

Where do I even start trying to explain the crafting?  It has to be the most non-intuitive crafting system I have ever come across, and it is pervasive through the whole game because of the extraordinary amount of loot you gather that is related to it.  Sometimes it gives the impression of being logical, then it turns around and laughs at you.  I will hold up my hands and say that this is the first game that I have had to constantly and consistently use a player-made cheat sheet on how to combine things for crafting, and even those are not complete.

I won’t go into it more here, as I am writing another page here on some tips on how to get the most out of your crafting, but suffice it to say that while the crafting is fun and interesting, it is ultimately an exceedingly frustrating and annoying experience as well.

Bags and Bag space

Bag space in this game is not limited to item numbers, but the weight of the loot you are carrying.  This is definitely a good thing, however sorting your bags could have been designed better.

If you have an item of the same type (usually crafting items or potions) it will generally automatically stack with the items already in your bag (but not always), which is good.  The issue comes when you try and sort your scrolling bag of loot into more manageable sections using picked up crates, barrels and bags.  You cannot drag and drop items onto the icon of the crates etc, you have to open it first and then drag it into the space provided here.  There is also no way to name your bags or otherwise mark them.

A lot of time can be spent organizing bags because the sheer amount of random crafting materials you get is pretty staggering, and selling the raw materials isn’t a good way to maintain your coinage.  Items are not always marked clearly as being useful or not, so if you want to be sure that say, that book, is not going to be needed at some point, then you had better find a space for it.

While there is a way to remotely store loot later in the game, it has the same rules of engagement as your current bags, so having good organization tends to be key if you don’t want to be swimming in weird items trying to find that one thing you need right now.

Economy and Loot

In general, I think the money you make in the game is more than adequate and just about properly balanced, however any loot you get is random, and because of that it can be an ultimately frustrating experience.  The creators seem to also have put in place a ‘solution’ to people reloading saves to try and counter this, in that the loot gets worse over time if you reload the same save to reroll for more useful loot.  It can be got around by having a few newer saves done before the one you are using, but it is a pain that wouldn’t have been necessary should the loot be more tailored to the current group.

There has been quite a lot of discussion about the random loot drops, and while I am fine with loot this random in games where the monsters respawn, the monsters here do not, and so your chance at loot is limited.  I therefore feel very little guilt in re-rolling.  The only thing that stops me doing this a lot is the long loading screen times.  Pick your fights 🙂

Conclusions

For all that the game has its frustrations and bugs, I have indeed spent a ton of hours playing it (steam tells me 137 hours).  You can’t really argue with the fact that a game that keeps you engaged for that amount of time despite being riddled with bugs and annoyances is indeed worth your money.  Not many games these days will keep you playing for this amount of time, and most of that time was on one play-through.  So my advice is that it is indeed good value for money and if you like strategy combat, or rpg, then this game is indeed likely worth your time.

 

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One thought on “Divinity: Original Sin – review

  1. Pingback: Divinity: OS – Tips: Crafting | Enriching worlds within the PC

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