Isometric turn-based RPGs aren’t normally my cup of tea, but I had heard good things about Divinity: Original Sin, and having been a quiet fan of Divinity II: Ego Draconis, a third-person RPG in the lineage, I decided to check the game out through Steam’s Early Access. You can count me as pleasantly surprised and quite keen to see what else the game will have to offer as it goes through development.
What attracted me to Original Sin, apart from my Ego Draconis history, was the potential for interplay between the two main characters. This is a game designed for co-op where player characters can have in-game conversations with each other debating decisions on simple things like whether to take a supporting character into the team or on to join a guild. Choices are determined by character attributes, one character with a high charisma rating using the relevant conversation option would have sway over the other using the same option with a lower rating. It is an innovative approach and fortunately for me (ever the one to avoid co-op) this conversation method works when playing on your lonesome.
It adds a certain something to what it is already a very enjoyable game. I haven’t gone too wild with splitting the opinions of my characters as I have had an ultimate goal in mind, but at an early stage of the Alpha I ended up letting a fish thief get away with depriving the merchant of custom by failing to take into account just how much influence each character had on the other. This interaction between your characters is the most obvious standout feature of the game, but potential is lurking elsewhere as well.
At the current stage of the Alpha, character customisation is fairly limited and so I’ve found myself going with a male Warrior focused on brute strength in battle and little in the way of social skills and a female Rogue with a bow and the skills to get her own way during trade and conversations. I’ve had some practice with the early stage of the game having repeated the intro a few times now. After some of the bigger updates released by developers Larian Studios your older saves are no longer compatible. It is something worth keeping that in mind if you go for the Early Access, but the potential aggravation is mitigated by an opening town which is full of character and areas to explore.
You are summoned there to investigate a murder in the town and assist a mage with pillaging orcs and a barrage of undead attacks. When you encounter the first town guards they talk themselves up as a pair of heroes, only to run away once you stumble across some of those pesky orcs fighting with members of the local army that is defending the town. When you enter the town you soon see civilians running to the dock where a ship is burning, if you were lucky enough to scrounge a rain spell scroll in the first area you can put the fire out with ease. Otherwise you are left looking around knowing you can’t help save the boat.
The murder mystery (which I haven’t solved yet) takes you all around the town where you will comes across numerous small, or large, side-quests. My favourite involves two love-struck cats, who you can talk to (along with any other animal) if you select the right ability at the character creation. One is living with the town mayor and has very high standards, the other is scrounging around the inn after losing his master during a sea voyage. I haven’t united the cats yet, but their tale is just begging for me to help them out.
My experiences with the combat have been very mixed so far, the systems work well in the turn-based environment and I particularly like how elemental spells can have a knock-on effect, so sending a lighting bolt to an enemy standing in water will cause some serious damage. So far though I’ve come across a few too many battles where I am too heavily outnumbered against more powerful foes. Whether I’m missing something during my character creation, I don’t know, but that is my one sticking point so far.
Larian recently released the below video showing off just how gorgeous this game can be, and it doesn’t do the music justice either. It is coming out this spring, and I hope it can match the promise I have seen so far in Early Access.