Divinity: Original Sin

This Kickstarter-funded game, a top-down RPG in the tradition of Infinity Engine games like Baldur’s Gate, has been praised to the skies.

In the most fundamental of senses, this is a great game. It would have to be, or Steam wouldn’t claim that I’ve spent an embarrassing 93 hours on it. It is a great game because it is fun to play, because it is compelling enough mechanistically to be able to induce a flow-state in the player. The combat is varied and usually just the right amount of challenging, though the game’s AI gets a little wonky at times. The art is gorgeous, vibrant and colorful. The quests are inventive and varied.

Those who praise it, however, cut it an undue amount of slack in proclaiming it the best game of 2014. Divinity: Original Sin is not without its…sins.

First of all, it lacks polish in many of its game systems. Crafting, in particular, suffers from terrible UI; the drag-and-drop method of combining items to craft gets exponentially more annoying the more items you have in your inventory. The loot system is unbalanced – the end game sees you earning so much money through hawking loot that there is literally no value to be had training your Bartering skill. Some game mechanics, like slipping on ice, and the RPS persuasion-game, are hair-tearingly annoying.

The game’s story starts off promisingly but soon dives into mediocrity. The writing and dialogue sound like they were stolen from a Renaissance Faire. NPCs keep shouting the same lines over and over. The game world feels floaty and unsupported by deep lore. You never feel like you are in the game, only playing it – the abstraction between reality and fiction is always brightly apparent.

Ultimately, though, Divinity: Original Sin is an important game. It is a vital step in the right direction amidst a gaming landscape littered with derivative wrecks. It is, in its own way, quirkily flawed, and these flaws speak of a more innocent age of gaming where developers were not as afraid to take design risks in the pursuit of great games. That sounds like nostalgia, and it definitely is. I would venture to say, however, that it is not too far off the mark. The developers are also constantly pushing patches to tweak, improve and balance the game, which means it will be a superior product in the future.

And I did play it for almost a hundred hours. No other medium offers such a good entertainment-to-dollar ratio.

I give this game: 3.5 out of 5 Godboxes

+ Good varied combat
+ Beautiful art direction
+ Varied and interesting quest, doesn’t hold your hand

– Mediocre plot
– Some game systems badly designed
– The occasional odd bug

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