The Divinity franchise started out over thirteen years ago, with 2002’s Divine Divinity drawing on the gameplay of Diablo and Ultima VII and coupling it with attractive graphics and a fantastic musical score. Its success saw Larian Studios pushed to the forefront of the cRPG genre, but as time went on the call of the home console became too strong to ignore, with Divinity 2 bringing the series to the Xbox 360.
However, it’s only now that Divinity: Original Sin has proven itself on Kickstarter, in the eyes of the critics and with fans of the genre, that Larian are exploring the world of console gaming once more. Alongside online and split-screen co-operative play, this Enhanced Edition release adds full voice-overs for all characters, as well as new quests, characters, battle styles, game modes and locations, topped off by a heavily re-written story with a brand-new ending. The key question here is how well the experience translates to its new platforms, as PC gamers that own the original are seeing all of these changes brought back to them with a free upgrade to the Enhanced Edition.
You take up the mantle of a Source Hunter, whose task it is to travel the kingdom of Rivellon, helping the populace where needed. Following an encounter that takes you to the end of time itself, you find yourself trying to stave off the Void, a being that is in essence eating time, primarily by seeking out Star Stones. Superficially, console gamers may be expecting something akin to Dungeon Siege or Diablo, but Divinity: Original Sin is a completely different beast.
Diving straight into the all-important character creation mode, you’re tasked with individualising your pair of protagonists. One of the most interesting aspects of the creation settings is the ability to lend your characters an AI-controlled personality. These range from Rascal and Maniac through to Free Spirit and will see them take control of the branching conversation in their own way off the back of this.
Of course, you can leave them without a personality and take full control of them through any dialogues, which is a degree of flexibility that I’ve never seen before on console. Your opinions do count, giving you a trait that can result in a stat or ability bonus, so it’s perhaps best to take full control if you want absolute creative license. Interestingly, when you play co-operatively with another person, you both get a say in any dialogues and any disagreements are settled by a quick game of rock, paper, scissors, which hopefully reduces grumbling – though in truth it seems to increase it!
The character model options aren’t all that extensive, but there’s enough variation to come out with an individual that you should be happy with. Alongside the general appearance options you can choose a pre-defined class from a satisfying selection, and then tailor their skills, attributes, abilities, and talents as well if you’re feeling brave enough – though the game warns you not to unless you have a good understanding of RPG systems. It’s a fantastically deep system, at least in terms of tailoring the way your character will play, and you can mix and match in any way you see fit.
Unlike the original games in the franchise, combat is turn-based, with everything that you do costing Action Points which replenish after each turn. You have your basic attacks and movement, as well as your skills or items which you can access via menus or by pressing the triangle button to bring up your hotbar if you’ve assigned them there.
On top of that, Original Sin also features reactive environments that you can take advantage of, and it pays dividends if you pay attention to your surroundings. For example, if you find oil or water on the floor and you have the correct magic spell or items, you can turn it into a trap, igniting the oil or freezing the water.
It’s safe to say that the controls take a bit of getting used to, and while the tutorials do a reasonable job of leading you through the game’s opening, I often found myself returning to the options screen to check what each button did, though that’s because I found myself needing to perform actions before they’ve necessarily been covered. Despite that, Larian Studios have done a good job of making the experience translate across from the PC, and the longer you spend with the control scheme the more intuitive it becomes. PC and OS X gamers who pick up the Enhanced Edition will also benefit from the added controller support.
Movement is at a steady pace, lending your characters real heft, but at times you may wish for a bit more pace to proceedings. The entire game performs at a very considered tempo, and in part feels more cerebral because of that. It’s certainly very involving though, with exploring dungeons and tackling Orcs being something to take your time over rather than rushing in swinging away wildly.
The new voice acting is of a variable quality, with some voices – particularly those of your two character’s – being well delivered, while some of the less important NPC’s sound like the studio have drafted in the tea boy to take a turn at being a soldier. Having said that, there are thousands and thousands of new lines of dialogue, all of which have voice acting attached, and the well known Alix Wilton Regan and Alec Newman stepping in as our two protagonists. The music is far more consistent, with some fantastic themes playing at various points, from orchestral pieces tinged with electric guitar to playful mandolin and harpsichord tracks.
Viewed from an isometric angle, Divinity: Original Sin is an attractive game, with a robust and solid fantasy world that is a pleasure to explore. It also performs reltively well, even with a large number of characters and enemies on the screen at once, though in some of the more built up areas there currently seem to be some frame rate hiccups and mild pop-in. The translucency effect that moves around with you to ensure you have a good view is accurate and useful, even if it takes a bit of getting used to at first.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is an in-depth and thoughtful RPG that offers console gamers an experience normally reserved for PC gamers. It’s pace and mechanics may take some getting used to and there are a few mild technical issues, but for those willing to put the time and effort in there are countless hours of questing and combat here that should enthral any RPG fan.
Version tested: PS4