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. They were all tied up with Kingdom Hearts II or whatever. 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 Progression. It was in this game the I started to see all the hype behind table top games. Being sucked into a character is easier when I feel like I have had a hand in molding how that character reacts to the world. It was this feeling within me that got amplified with the release of 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 apart of that world. Lets 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 it self in the games opening moments. You, as a character and slave, are on a ship being transported to an island for those who use Source Magic. The problem with Source 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 going 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 an see visions, usually of their last moments alive. This changed the way I solved quest 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 vein, 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 treasure chest to varying degrees of success. I found that the best way to dispatch with 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 learned that fire was my most powerful ally and my most loathe 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 if you want it. After killing or talking your way to freedom you are tasked with looking for the powerful Source user who trashed your ship in the beginning. However, the main story wasn’t what drew me into the world I was playing in. What really got to me what they 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 characters 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 a 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 about what my elf did in his spare time.
Combat is a beautiful and frustrating process. On the one hand you can enter a fight 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 were there by triggering traps that I didn’t see coming in order to defend myself against waves of monsters I wasn’t prepared for. Live by the sword I suppose. In this game I learned just how important save scumming is. If I even sneezed the wrong way I would reload and earlier save.
If I had to give the game any criticism it would have to be the map and direction system. While playing an open world like Skyrim it would seem like getting lost would happen all the time. 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 all together. I frequently get lost while playing. I get it, it is apart 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 erks 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 I can not recommend it enough. 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.
Divinity Original Sin II is available on Steam for $44.99