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LONG BLOG

Early Access Review: Divinity Original Sin

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(Personal Note: The writing will probably seem a bit jumpy. Sorry about that. If you have any more questions on something specific I'll answer them the best I'm able.)

Having put over eighty hours into the game it'd be pretty hard not to recommend at this point. I had been looking into buying it since it became available on Early Access, but held off. After it went into beta, I honestly couldn't help myself. It looked way too good to ignore any longer and glitches and frustrations would have to be taken in stride. I needed a role playing game with only customizable characters. I got that and the ability to give my characters a personality. It really is an enjoyable game, even in the beta form.
     The game sports a delightfully colorful cartoonish look while maintaining a fair grip on reality. The colors themselves feel sort of like pastels. Overall, the style of it looks wonderful in motion. Every area also in the game feels unique enough to where you'll be able to comfortably play without relying on the map. Even the darker areas of the game such as burning forests and dripping coves feel consistent with the rest of the game's appearance. Character models kind of look like clay, but don't look terrible because of it. Instead, they blend rather well with the world. Spells are flashy and when they hit, they make a noticeable impact. Animations all feel smooth. Each spell class (Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Witchcraft) all have a similar base, but different overall presentation.



     The combat is turn based, but flows fairly fast. Attacks don't take a lot of time to execute and given the tactical nature of skills, battles can end in an instant. Some of the more drawn out battles come from larger groups of enemies, rather than smaller groups of tougher combatants. A lot of effort was noticeably put into enemy placement. This was done to make each battle not only feel unique, but keep players on their toes. There are conveniently placed barrels of oil and water throughout the world and using them to your advantage is nearly vital to survival. Elements play a major role in combat as things like electrified water can stun enemies and iced ground can cause a player to slip. Their effects can be null if your character rolls a high enough saving throw based on your stats. You can also remove hazards from the field through the same use of elements. Fire will melt ice and explode poisonous clouds, while water from rain will douse fires. 
     The number of actions you can take during a turn in battle depends on how many actions points your character has. Everything from casting spells to equipping items and simply moving consumes action points. This ensures that the player thinks about every choice they make for everything that they do. The enemy AI isn't too stupid to walk directly into a fire pit and will generally go after squishier party members before others. They also incorporate tactics of their own will use the environment to their advantage as well if they are able. Unfortunately, melee enemies have a tendency to mob from time to time which makes dispatching them a little easier than normal. Leveling can be a bit of a pain, but isn't too tiresome. Grinding, however, is out since enemies do not respawn as there are a set number of them in the game. There are two side notes I would like to make about the game's difficulty. One, the game does have a difficulty setting that I haven't used myself yet. And two, I'm basing this analysis on multiple play-throughs with only a party of two. There are two companions available in the current build of the game a mage and warrior and there will likely be more when the game releases officially.


    
     What skills a character can learn are based on the number of points put into that particular school. There are eight different classes to choose from. They are simply warrior, air, water fire, earth, witchcraft, ranger and rogue. The first level in a class allows for you to learn three skills in that class and from there it gradually increases with each until you get to level five where you can learn an unlimited number of for that particular class. There are no limits as to what combinations you make with these classes. However, there is a level limit attached to skills as well which makes it that much harder to strike a balance with more specific role playing characters you make. It should also be noted that physical based characters feel really underpowered compared to mages.
     The character creater comes with eleven pre-made classes. They all range from your standard to pre-built hybrid classes. What weapons you start with are based on the class you choose before further editing it. So if you want to make a warrior-mage that starts with armor and a sword, you would first have to choose either the knight or fighter class, then edit the skills to liking from there. Cosmetically speaking, the game offers up numerous customization options that allow to make your character your own. There are a dozen different skin tones, hair styles, and faces available. Everything seems well made and a finished character actually looks like it belongs in the game it came from unlike some character creator results.

     The story, or what little of it that has been made available in the beta, feels straight forward, tight and fun. The story follows your two created characters traveling to the town of Cyseal to investigate a murder. You are to find evidence of Sourcery and eliminate it with extreme prejudice. Or you could just meander about and until the actual plot comes in. The reason for your characters journey is just a means to an end. What becomes increasingly clear as you move forward with the game's plot is that your characters much more than the mere mortals that they start off to be and they'll learn as much about their past selves as you do as the game moves forward. Your characters can grow to love are hate each other based on the personalities that you give them. Things can even entirely platonic between your characters if that is what you want.
     The way this works is that there are instances where your characters can communicate with one another and from there, you can choose their responses to one another. These events can be triggered by any number of things such one character fleeing from battle or even something simple like finding a note on the beach. The dialogue flows pretty naturally and the game manages quite a consistent tone. The amount of consistency is pretty remarkable considering the pretty diverse cast of characters available even in this starting portion of the game. The writing is delightfully humorous, and even when more dark discussions are had, they are treated with a light sense of whimsy. This doesn't mean that everything is a joke, just that the game doesn't want to take itself too seriously.



-You'll notice that this review doesn't talk about the online portions of the game. That's because I don't play games online and that even extends to this. I'm not against it, personally, and think that the idea of how it works seems nice enough. I can speak briefly of the global chat: It works. That's about all there is to it. If you have a quick question about something in the game then you can drop it in the chat and people will respond to it. The people are decent for an online community and are pretty helpful too.

-The game has bugs to be sure, but every major bug in the two plus months I've been playing the game has been addressed and a ton of smaller fixes are always implemented with each release. The most nagging past issues have been: broken traps, dumb enemies, various graphical glitches, and a few story related makers and queues being "off" The game has never crashed on me even while in beta.
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About elric6one of us since 10:19 PM on 05.17.2012

Games are fun.