It’s been a while! I’ve been doing a lot of writing and editing this past month, which has took me away somewhat from my article writing. Today I bring you a review that is a very long time coming. I present to you a game which I believe was not only the best game I played last year, but it could be one of the best RPGs and Turn-Based systems ever made.
Shocking, right? Well, hear me out.
Now, I know Larian had this game in Early Access for quite some time, over a year in fact. I’m no stranger to their games over the years. Divine Divinity, Divinity Original Sin 1 and Divinity II: Developers Cut were all games I played, and overall enjoyed. I wish I backed the second DOS on Kickstarter, now I know, but I have a rule with Kickstarters in that I don’t back them. Too many failures on there, y’know? I kept a close eye on its development however. Finally the game launched in September 2017, and it really took off.
In October 2017, I applied for a job with Larian Studios. In order to do some of their written tasks, I needed a better understanding of the game. So I broke one of my rules in video games. I bought it straight away and started playing. Originally it was playing so I understood how to do my tests. Then I enjoyed it. Then I sat scratching my head.
I actually loved turn based combat.
I will be fair here. The hardest choice this year was picking the games after this game. Everything new I have played that had come out in 2017. Nothing. NOTHING. Comes close to this. Now, I will say I do not have a Ps4, Switch or Xbox One, so there were games that I missed that could well have beaten this.
What a game so far! A love letter to DnD role players, this game really packs a punch. It really is a pinnacle and a legend to RPGs in general. This game not just wins my GOTY 2017, it might, in time, be my favourite RPG of all time. Yes, even beating Morrowind, Skyrim and The Witcher 3. Kingdom Come Deliverance is also in that elite tier of games I just love playing, but Divinity Original Sin 2 is just a monster, begging to be played.
It offers a massive campaign with memorable characters, interesting role-playing options, and excellent systemic combat. There are countless options to tweak your combat style to. Want an undead lizard that can summon and turn people into chickens? Fucking sold! Want a warrior tank that can conjure fire? Yes. Loads of options and the game is huge. Act 1, which is the tutorial island, took me 25 hours to finish. And there were still several quests I did not do. And because you can do the quests in different ways, there is lots of replay ability in this game I feel. I’m now 110 hours into my first play-through, and finally in the last Act of the game. It’s still giving me thrills in the combat, and it’s just so fresh to play.
People talk a lot about gameplay loops when discussing good games. Divinity Original Sin has such satisfying combat that it is a loop that keeps me going for hours. I cannot get bored of the combat system, and the many ways you can exploit it with its dozens of mechanics. Cheesing difficult fights is not just doable, but urged. The combat involves a magic/physical armor system that was seen with some controversy from the original DOS, forcing you to make decisions in your team building, but I quite like it as it builds more strategy. It can lead to some very unfair fights, but even the ones where I got pasted felt fun. I just returned another time when I had a better idea of how to deal with it. There is little hand holding, they just give you this sandbox of tools, and you’re left to scrabble in the dirt.
The environments are beautiful and the soundtrack is solid. That alone would put it at the top of the heap, but then Larian added offline and online co-op, a PVP arena mode, and Game Master mode, the greatest throwback to the Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper games that underpin the entire genre. I haven’t played online much yet, but once I’ve finished the game, I plan on playing again. Because of the vast modding community, there is quite a lot to do. I will be making a good go into a new play-through with higher difficulties. The story while good, isn’t really the point of the game. For me it is that stunning game-play loop. The freedom in this game is almost unparalleled, but at the same time, it can be overwhelming. Doing this game blind is quite difficult and frustrating, as a word of warning.
The game is punishingly difficult at times, it does have some bugs and glitches, and I’ve heard the final act of the game has a weird pacing that has thrown many off. But that does not take anything away from this behemoth of a game. At £29.99, it is the best value game in years. It is also the only game I’ve played since Witcher 3 that I can give a genuine 10/10 mark. Is it a 10/10 game? Probably not objectively. It won’t be for everyone, but I will say it has one of the best gameplay loops of any video game out there on the market. Give it a go. You might be surprised.
So this is a bit of an edit. Way back in May, I am happy to say I finally completed my first play-through. 117 hours of rough fights, respeccing my team and a lot of bullshit, I finally finished the game.
And I really enjoyed it. But my word, that final fight is hard! I had to redo it nearly a dozen times, with complete rebuild of my party once or twice. For those who haven’t played, the end game boss is a bit of a prick, summoning a giant fuck off Kraken who just iced my team every time with extremely powerful attacks that hit my entire party.
Originally, my team consisted of: A rogue-build with Tank and Dagger manipulation, a full on Summoner, a Fire and Storm Mage and an archer. This quickly proved futile as I wasn’t doing enough damage to kill off Braccus Rex. So I changed my team up.
The first two just weren’t cutting it, so I swapped their configurations into a full-on offense. Two-handed attacker, and Blood Mage.
The final battle turned out to be a brutal bloodbath. I decided to side with Lucian (going against my team’s wishes, but fuck it!) and the fight swung back and forth. Braccus Rex was destroying my new dickish allies, and my team was barely hanging on. I had to keep reviving my struggling team. Then, Braccus Rex finished off Lucian and teleported to my party. He left himself open!
With what I had left in my arsenal and cool-downs, I attacked him with everything I had. If he died, his summons and Kraken died with him. But I had one shot. My team was low-health, and strung out. His Black Ring army would destroy me if i failed. And I would have to start all over again if this attack didn’t kill the little bastard.
It came down to my custom character, Braccus Rex on a sliver of health. I clicked Overpower and finally finished the job. And I breathed a sigh of relief. Over an hour, that last fight. I finally did it.