Divinity Original Sin II – Review (PC)

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

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Review (Switch)

It won’t be hard to believe that you have heard the words Zelda Breath of the Wild a lot. From t.v. to youtube everyone seems to be talking about Nintendo’s new flagship title. In short, Zelda Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece. However, don’t get me wrong, the game being a masterpiece doesn’t mean that it is without flaws. From the beginning, BotW drops you off in a world that is begging to be explored. From the snowy peaks in the northwest corner of the map to the rainforest in the southeast corner, every environment in BotW is full of life and character. In most of the open-world RPG’s I have played I tend to death grip the fast travel system and never let go. What is the point of traveling on some boring road when I can instantly be at my objective? That is a mistake when it comes to this game, rewarding exploration is the first thing that locked me into BotW’s world. 

Breath of the Wild features 120 Shrines as well as 900 korok seeds. Each shrine features a puzzle that you have to solve in order to obtain a spirit orb. With every 4 spirit orbs, you obtain you can upgrade your heart containers or your stamina. The korok seeds on the other hand allow you to upgrade the bag space of your weapons. Most of the puzzles throughout the map are simple, logic-based that get progressively difficult as you enter into hard areas. Others can be either combat challenges or tests that involve doing something in the outside world. For instance, I had to carry a ball to the center of a swirling piece of land. Now, I decided to carry it the entire way, but there were at least two other ways I could have solved that problem that I could think of. 

It is that freedom of choice that turns Zelda Breath of the Wild from a simple open-world adventure into an epic that will stand the test of time. The first thing I did in BotW was climb a tree. I walked out of the starter cave and had the instant urge to climb a tree, so I did. It was this small detail that let me know I was in for something special. And these small details are littered throughout the game. If a monster is lit on fire than there is a chance that the items they drop will be destroyed. Fire creates an updraft that you can ride on to get an aerial attack in. Wolves will try to circle around you before attacking, and if they sense too much danger they will run. The entire world isn’t reliant on you and travelers will try to fight off monsters on their own. These types of things bring a level of believability to the world. 

Monster encounters vary not only between types of monsters but by classes of monsters as well. A simple Bokoblin tends to run into your weapon by accident sometimes but later versions of this monster can not only see your attack coming but it can also learn to target your blind spots. I have never died more in a Zelda game, but every death felt justified as I learned what the game was expecting from me. Once you learn the dance, monsters will never be a problem again. Weapon degrading is a big topic of debate in BotW. Weapons in the beginning of the game will in fact break if you look at them wrong. So much so that I developed a habit of holding on to my better weapons for harder situations. This method of play is fine, but it is highly unnecessary. The rate in which you get weapons is incredibly quick with a new sword or ax around every corner. 

As I said before, Zelda Breath of the Wild is not without its flaws. While dealing with mobs of Bokoblins the game sometimes tends to lag. It has happened a total of 5 times over my 40+ hours with the game. It never happens with any creature other than the Bokoblins, for me at least. The cooking system is in serious need of a recipe book like Skyrim has because losing track of the thousands of combinations is a thing you will do. Made an awesome potion by accident, good luck duplicating the process after 10 hours of game play has gone by. Speaking of potions, what was the point of giving us an awesome potion system if you were just going to give us really easy armor that makes every potion obsolete. It would be different if you could stack effects but it is only one effect at a time. 

The main story is surprisingly easy. For reference, it took me 4 years to beat Ocarina of Time. Maybe that game was hard, maybe I suck, I like to go with the former. That being said the main story took me about 10 hours in total. The bar to beat the end boss was set very low. However, it was in that final fight that I realized that beating the end boss wasn’t why I was playing. Sure, it was the reason that Link was doing what Link was doing but I had genuinely been sucked into the world. 

The Nintendo Switch’s launch superstar seems to have managed to live up to the expectations of the general populous, and that is a great sign of things to come. I still have several hours ahead of me but I am looking forward to them with a big grin on my face. Every time I see someone discover something else I hadn’t found it makes me want to jump back in headfirst and see what else I can find. Sure, Zelda Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece, but above everything else, it is a fun experience that you don’t want to pass up.

The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of The Wild is available on Nintendo Switch for $59.99