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Nostalgia Review: Divine Divinity (PC)

/ Jul 26th, 2012 No Comments

Divine Divinity

When Diablo was released in 1996 it set the bar for the RPG genre. It has resulted in many games coming after it influenced by its unique groundbreaking RPG style. Some games have even been developed in the hope of improving upon its formula and even trying to be the game that bests Diablo. Such attempts, although unsuccessful in accomplishing, this are divided into two basic categories: bad and good.

Of these many games one that falls into that latter category is Divine Divinity: a 2008 RPG Developed by Larian Studios for the PC, Divine Divinty was made on a very modest budget and development team.It was released with little marketing but defied the odds becoming successful enough to result in a number of other sequels and a devoted following. As soon as you press the “new game” button you’ll find out why that is.


Divine Divinity takes place in the fictional kingdom of Rivellon. You play as a wandering adventurer attacked on the road by orcs. Just when it seems you’re about to be overcome, a strange light enters your body. You awake later in the village of Alderoth: a small village filled with healers. After some exploration you discover that you are, in usual fantasy cliché, a chosen one. What exactly have you been chosen to do? That would be telling and would spoil a lot. What can be told is that the task that comes with this title will put you into contact with an assortment of characters ranging from assassins, royalty, evil cults, dragons and elves.

Ye Olde Obligatory Fantasy Tavern

On the surface this game seems like the usual clichéd fantasy story. Once you start playing it’s a solid tale from start to finish moving at a slow and steady pace. It’s a well written and is dramatic, funny, serious, dark and, depending on how you play, romantic. The characters you meet feel as though they are as alive and animated as they look. Some are jovial others are melancholy; it varies from character to character.

What is disappointing about the story in Divine Divinity is that, if you focus on completing the main quest, it isn’t that long and is very linear; only offering one ending that is always the same despite your actions in the game.  This is compensated for by many sidequests which add length and enjoyment to the game. Besides the usual “fetch an item” quest, you’ll do more than that like doing investigative work, fighting monsters, rescuing damsels and even going on a treasure hunt. The bottom line though is that this story is as long as you wanted it be can as short as a fable or as long as a epic novel.


Your heroes for this game.

When you start the game will be presented the choice of playing as either a male or female from one three classes: warrior, mage and survivor. Each of the six characters possesses unique starting skills in addition to the basic universal stats of their class. When you do, it’s only a matter of typing a name for your character, picking their portrait and the game begins placing you in the huge world of Rivellon.

You’ll find that the game is easy to get into. Utilizing an isometric view, you’ll use the mouse to control your character. That, along with using your keyboard to access features like the options menu, will be your primary method of control for the entire game. Moving your character is done by pointing at the area you wish to walk to and left clicking. Want to speed it up? Hold down on the left mouse button and they’ll run there instead. This method isn’t just limited to movement as pointing and clicking with the left mouse button picks up items, initiates attacks on selected enemies, starts conversations, and opens containers. Right clicking will activate whatever spells or abilities you have assigned to it.

That brings up one of the most well designed parts of Divine Divinity: the graphic interface. With just a click on the appropriate buttons, you can perform a multitude of tasks such as accessing and organize your inventory; assign spells and skills to the right mouse button; and access your journal. You can also keep track on your health, magic and stamina which decreases if you use it to perform a special combat move run for too long. It’s difficult to discuss how easy it is to operate the interface and why is unique; you have to use it for yourself.

Attack of the Warrior Skeletons… and a ghoul

This ease is sure to be of assistance as this game as it can be equal challenging for newcomers and experienced RPG players. Even on the the lowest setting of difficulty you will need great perseverance and strategy to survive as the game progress. You’ll also have to keep an idea on the status of your armor and weapons because using them often or being hit too much can wear them down requiring repairs to prevent them from being permanently destroyed when their status reaches zero. Not to worry, the game is forgiving even giving some accommodations such as using traps to help you defeat the toughest opponents and, once you acquire the means to do so and teleporting to safety. You can take time for some recovery then teleport back into the fray.  Even this aids though don’t detract from the challenge this game presents.

Customization of your character’s appearance is not allowed, something that may irk some gamers. A greater emphasis is instead placed on character development. Besides the typical RPG element of upgrading your stats, Divine Divinity breaks a long standing tradition in many RPGs by not restricting what skills or spells you can learn just because you picked a certain class. This opens up a world of possibility. If you’re, say, a warrior you could focus mainly on combat related skills or adding in some defensive spells to handle close combat better. It’s a freedom that is rare in most RPGs and is one reason why Divine Divinity’s gameplay is unique in addition to being so good.

You can also develop your character through the consequences of how you act. Completing quests like clearing out a den of trolls will increase your character’s reputation with the people of Rivellon. This is invaluable as a high reputation with people means you’ll get information easier and even get cheaper goods from merchants. But being valorous doesn’t excuse you from being a jerk.  Stealing in full view or being rude in conversations will cost your respect with people and could even result in them calling the guards to seize you if you keep it up. This sort of system of actions and consequences isn’t nearly as in-depth as games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic but it does make you feel as though you are carving a legend for your character in the world you play in.


A very nice walk through the forest with the warrior.

Larian Studios have done very well in constructing a world that looks very robust with life by using a mix of both 2D and 3D styles similar to what Diablo did back in 1996. What does make them far greater is the level of effort put into creating the atmosphere. Exploring forests of healthy foliage, you’ll come across rabbits frolicking as butterflies flutter gracefully. Taverns are dank and commonly filled with patrons awaiting drinks. Guards patrol aged castle walls vigilantly watching for any unwanted nuisances. It’s done so well that even the grimmest of places you visit will have an eye catching quality despite their being made to impress a sense of dread and uncertainty into you.

Despite this level of effort into making this game’s world look spectacular, the graphics at times look noticeably dated even for the standards of a 2002 game. Characters often come off as being simplistically rendered causing them to at times not blend in well with their environments. Animations look clunky and lack fluidity. These are very minor blemishes however and don’t detract from the game’s overall experience. It couldn’t have hurt to iron out these bumps a little better though.


From the moment you start the game, your travels through Rivellon are accompanied by a multitude of sounds which all work in tandem to give you a superb showcasing of sound. For example: early in the game you’ll have the opportunity of traversing through underground catacombs underneath the village you wake up in. It’s downright eerie not just visually but it’s creepier when you hear the sounds of hollow bones of undead skeletons on bare rock and the ambient sounds of the cavern. As if this isn’t enough, the game’s exceptionally composed soundtrack plays melancholy tunes. This isn’t just limited to one area as it’s an occurrence that varies in styles and tones as you play through the game.

Fighting off trolls. The real ones not the annoying internet kind.

Despite the game’s dialogue being handled largely through text, there’s voice acting that occurs every so often. The acting is often of high quality and the actors really get into their roles. This, along with the sound effects and music, is decadence for the ears.


Divine Divinity is a fantasy that promises to give you big things and it delivers. It’s easy to play, atmospheric, addictive, tells a very entertaining story and is a fun escape from reality that is large enough to keep you busy for days. It isn’t perfect, neither is it “divine,” but it is excellent. Physical copies are still in circulation as of this review by the publisher and can now get it off Steam. This is one adventure you’ll have no trouble finding as it’s worth the search.

Overall Ratings – Nostalgia Review: Divine Divinity (PC)











Jonathan Anson

Jonathan Anson

Jonathan has been a lover of video games since his father brought home a Windows 95 computer. When he's not doing that he indulges in his other passion: writing. Jonathan holds an AA degree in Journalism from Saddleback College in Southern California.
Jonathan Anson
Jonathan Anson

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