When Divinity: Original Sin first launched back in 2014 it set the gaming world on fire with a glorious return to the classic isometric RPGs of the late ’90s and early 2000s. Larian studios had created not only one of the best RPGs in years, but arguably one of the best games of the year with their brutally challenging fantasy RPG set in the fictional world of Rivellon. The studio have recently made a slew of tweaks to bring us a revamped Enhanced Edition that has now brought the title to consoles as well. It is no secret the cool cats at Larian studios love playing games just as much as they love making them and the heart they have poured into making an already epic game even better shows through and through.
What’s the story, Divinity Glory?
Divinity: Original Sin takes place in the universe of previous titles in the Divinity universe and you begin your adventure with fully customisable protagonists (either solo or co-cop creation for a character each). These colourful characters are from a line of top-notch badasses called Source Hunters who hunt (you guessed it) Source. This delightful sounding concoction is a dark and mysterious magic that must be sought out and eradicated as it corrupts shit and generally does bad things. Our heroes begin the adventure of Original Sin arriving in the Seaside town of Cyseal to investigate the murder of a suspected Sorcerer and everything just explodes from there. The amount of content and branching story arcs is insane. Original Sin, much like the Witcher III: Wild Hunt, focuses on making side quests just as important as the main story campaign and deliberately keeps all quests tracked in your journal exactly the same, with no real emphasis on what you need to do next (apart from a few lines of text). It is as frustrating as it is liberating; Larian studios wants you to simply get out there and explore the world they have created, and boy is it one hell of a world!
Spec yourself before you wreck yourself
Original Sin is one of the deepest of recent RPGs and its complexity is something you can really sink your teeth into. It is a hardcore players’ wet dream, with hundreds of numbers, stats and items to pour over. The system is built so that you can create your character from the ground up stats-wise, and a whole bunch of classes make themselves present here from the usual warrior type classes, rogues/archers and mages. You have the ability to re-spec however you like (to a degree), and this provides an almost endless array of possibilities as to how your two protagonists may work together. If you know your general RPG knowledge (DEX for a rogue, STR for a warrior etc.) you will be able to grasp the basics of what each character will need, however, Divinity will not hold your hand and many small things that will drastically help improve your initial playthrough may be missed (i.e. a trait that allows you to speak to animals is a necessity- but the game will not tell you). If you are not spending at least half an hour on the initial spec screen, you are doing it wrong.
Seeing as your initial party of Source hunters is made of two characters you create, you’ll want to craft companions that can bounce off each other and it’s best to have them doing completely different things. One character could focus on the crafting and blacksmithing side of things while the other could be the smooth talker and thief with loads of charisma locked into the stat tree. Later in the game the ability to completely change a character’s class is available and it really gives the game a feeling of not being a lock-in contract. Throw in the vast amount of followers who will join your party and you are free to switch up how you want to play which keeps the game fun and fresh.
I applaud Larian for treating players like adults, and a lot of the joy in the game is discovering these things yourself. However, there’s no shame in consulting an e-guide or one of the many helpful tips and tricks pages on Reddit for helpful spoiler-free tips on how to start out for the first time. At the end of the day, Original Sin is going to push newcomers to the limit of possible rage quitting; it can be utterly unforgiving if you haven’t been paying attention or really grasped what the fundamentals are for your characters. I like to think I am a seasoned RPG veteran, and it was not until my third play through or so that I really grasped what Original Sin was doing. Once you do figure it all out, it is simply a blast to play, but getting there will take perseverance. Practice and patience in the short-term will pay dividends in the long-term.
Living up to the legacy
The Enhanced Edition of Original Sin is everything I had hoped it would be after playing the original game back on PC. It captures everything that made the title so special and amps it up without directly messing with the winning formula. The game runs at a smooth 30 FPS on consoles (PS4 & Xbox One) and graphically it’s on par with the game running on ultra settings on PC. It may not be the America’s Next Top Model winner of sexiness but the title has its own vibrant charm and skewed vision that works perfectly with the universe and lore.
The biggest changes in the Enhanced Edition are the introduction of fully voiced NPCs- and there are A LOT of them. I felt at times there was more going on in Original Sin than in big AAA blockbuster RPGs such as the Witcher III or Skyrim. This is no small feat for a studio that is much smaller than heavyweights like CD Projeckt Red or Bethesda, and is a testament to the passion Larian have for making a game that goes above and beyond what is considered possible for an indie development studio.
The other awesome addition is co-op gameplay, which works surprisingly well (despite my initial skepticism) and is a hell of a lot of fun. Players can roam split-screen or online and are free to do or go anywhere as they please. If you feel like branching out and doing completely different quests miles apart, that’s cool. It reminded me a lot of playing Adventure mode on Reaper of Souls, but this felt much more mysterious and exciting.
Transitioning a game of such complexity to console may seem like it is destined to fail, but titles such as Final Fantasy XIV and Diablo III have proven that with the right mapping, complex games can work surprisingly well, if not better, through a controller. The Enhanced Edition streamlines the UI of the PC version in a way that feels natural and balanced. Although I still prefer the PC interface, Larian have done a commendable job of bringing it all over to the Dualshock 4. Admittedly, like the PC version, I still take issue with the muddied inventory system. While not being truly terrible, it does feel rather cumbersome at times (especially late game). Things like switching out items between characters (especially with a party of four as specialisations can be so varied) can feel more like you’re wrestling with the UI rather than getting on with the job. I understand there is probably no easy way around it as yet, but Larian may just crack the perfect formula in time for Divinity: Original Sin 2.
The Enhanced Edition of Original Sin has been a joy to play once more, with all of its little tweaks, both minor and major, giving the game that bit of polish to truly make it shine. Larian couldn’t be more deserving of the litany of awards they received back in 2014 for their magnum opus, and the Enhanced Edition does nothing but improve upon the experience. If you haven’t already played the game and you’re after a compelling, deep and complex RPG to sink a good hundred hours into, I cannot think of a more deserving title for you to spend your time with. At any rate, it ought to get you primed for the release of Original Sin 2 in 2017.
Reviewed on PS4.