Divinity: Original Sin is a part of Larian Studios’ Divinity series and is chronologically a prequel to the 2002 game Divine Divinity. Like the other games in the series, Divinity: Original Sin could be described simply as a hack-and-slash action RPG in the vein of Diablo with actual role-playing. The game was scheduled for release in February but has since been delayed to April 25.
Divinity: Original Sin uses an overhead view that Diablo fans will recognize and feel comfortable with. The game operates on a real-time system, transitioning into turn-based combat once battle commences. The shift is seamless, taking place on the exact same map without any loading screens or transporting the characters and enemies to a generic battlefield. Combat uses action points that are spent on movement, attacking, special abilities, etc.
Heavier weapons, such as two-handed swords, will use more action points, but are more likely to get through the damage reduction of heavier armors. Rogues with daggers can get more attacks in a single round, but they might need to spend more action points moving behind enemies in order to get the bonus damage needed to take down heavily-armored enemies.
Naturally, every game needs a unique twist to the gameplay. Divinity: Original Sin’s main “gimmick” is that the player switches control between two protagonists, both of which are customized like a typical WRPG player avatar. Players get to control both characters in combat and during conversations. In multiplayer mode, one of the two protagonists will be controlled by the other player. The mechanic works fairly seamlessly, though how much it truly adds to the game remains to be seen.
Character creation is fast and allows for a modest amount of mechanical and visual customization (think World of Warcraft for the range of appearance options). Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell the difference between many of the faces because the camera is pulled back too far while creating a character and the overhead view means that few people will get to appreciate small facial differences anyways.
Players pick a class from the usual RPG archetypes such as Knight, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric and the Survivor – which is clearly a Ranger. The kits they come with are fairly standardized, though there is a little room for adjustment.
Thrown into the Fire
Once character creation is done, Divinity: Original Sin throws players into the action immediately without any fanfare. Without an opening cinematic or even a brief bit of reading to explain the setup, it’s difficult to get invested into the story. The story starts to pick up once the game actually begins, but the lack of a storytelling premise rather undermines the conceit of the game as “Diablo-clone with more role-playing.”
Graphics and Sound
As mentioned before, the game is currently only in alpha and it shows – the biggest culprit being the animation. Character models and the camera movement feel choppy and halting. Load times drag on rather long as well. Over the course of the last month or so updates to the game have smoothed out animations, but it still has a way to go before it has the seamless quality of a finished, released product.
Clicking on objects can be hit or miss. Thankfully, the turn-based nature of the game means that a missed selection is a mere annoyance instead of a frustrating death. However, the wonky item selection is an annoyance just the same.
The graphical quality is overall par for the course. Environments have a pleasant level of crisp detail – enough to match any triple-A release with a similar overhead camera setup like Diablo 3. However, the amount of color and detail leaves objects hard to visually discern from the environment at times. The character models themselves feel rather lacking and could definitely benefit from some work.
The game’s strongest aspect so far is its music. Sweeping orchestral pieces, moody piano solos and the obligatory ominous choruses provide wonderful background music to traveling and combat alike. The soundtrack has enough variety that it shouldn’t get annoying either.
Divinity: Original Sin Preview Impressions
Just going by what is available to see in the playable alpha, Divinity: Original Sin looks to be a passable game. The game has the potential to become a solid RPG, but it will need some serious polish to make the gameplay flow properly, pretty-up the models and smooth out the animations. The release date extension to April 25 appears was sorely needed and even now, there is still some cause for concern.