independent

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Worthy prequel to a great franchise

Chris Hayes

Published 26/07/2014 | 12:00

Scene from Divinity: Original Sin

Experimentation and subsequent reward for said experimentation should always take centre stage in any RPG title and Divinity: Original Sin pulls it off perfectly, and then some.

Original Sin combines some serious cause and effect functionality with a mesmerisingly complex spell system that will keep you hooked during the astonishingly content-rich 60-odd hours of questing.

Original Sin has just about everything that will trigger the Baldur's Gate/Dungeons & Dragons nostalgia in just about every serious RPG fan. The top-down persepective, turn-based combat and clunky menus make for both fond memories and eyecatching gameplay.

Much as in big-budget roleplaying peers such as Skyrim or Mass Effect, the dominant plot revolves around saving the entire world, although never so much as to smother the experience of side activities. You'll even find the occasional joke worming its way into the heady stuff. It's a safe route that perhaps escapes the demands of living up to the storytelling quality of a game like Planescape: Torment, but Original Sin's writers are competent enough to make the direction work well.

The quests themselves are well-penned adventures dealing with your usual bread and butter conflicts of blood feuds and racial tensions. Do you, for example, help an elf whose family was murdered by orcs kill an innocent descendent of the vicious orc tribe, try to talk him out of it, or fool him into leaving by either faking the orc's death or stealing an amulet as proof you killed her?

Original Sin's quests are full of these kinds of great moral choices, and most of them have two or more possible outcomes that really made me feel like I had control over the fate of the characters.

The combat system is where Original Sin really takes off the mantle of convention and comes into its own. There's a faint echo of Magicka in its heavily use of various spell and elemental combinations for devastating effects, but Original Sin distinguishes itself by working that system into almost every moment of combat to create opportunities for crowd control and environmental advantages that demand some brainwork even on the easiest of the three difficulty modes.

As a note, its important to understand that enemies can use the same spell combinations against you, throwing another spanner into the already tangled works.

Divinity: Original Sin is a huge game in its own right and a worthy prequel to a great franchise. The thinking man's version of Dragon Age, Divinity will become a classic in its own right. Spell combinations, cheeky storytelling and huge depth make it a great journey and phenomenal value for money.

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