Isometric RPG games are truly at home on the PC where they originated from. The famous Diablo series mastered this sub-genre, spawning many imitators in this intriguing and often successful style.
Developers, as we know, are always trying something ‘new’ to sell their game, more often than not just adding features here and there to make their games feel different. But underneath, they just end up being more of the same. How does Divinity: Original Sin translate to our home consoles? And what exactly does Enhanced Edition really mean?
Divinity: Original Sin from Larian Studios is indeed yet another isometric RPG. However, it has a few tricks up its sleeve which definitely sets it apart from the rest.
You play as a pair of male and female user-created ‘Source Hunters’, who track down people interested in the use of ‘Sourcery’ (or magic to you and me). The story is filled with funny and light-hearted dialogue, both text and voice acted. Over the course of the adventure, choices can be made in conversations and it is fun to see the different responses. There is no reputation system, so ticking somebody off may earn you a punch up but there are no moral choices that change the way the story goes. Original Sin is laden with wonderful colourful characters to interact with, the two drunk sailors near the beginning being a definite highlight. A lot of patience is needed with the first hour of the game though, as it is unfortunately a slow burner.
Divinity is essentially similar to Diablo or Baldur’s Gate on the surface, but it plays differently due to the dual protagonist mechanic. Dragging your character portraits apart allows you to control each character separately, which helps with the game’s scarce puzzles, though to proceed you’re forced to go as a pair.
There is a very complicated crafting feature which requires recipe books found throughout the game or purchased from an NPC. These teach you what components are needed to make a certain item, and without them it’s all down to experimentation. This can be rewarding, but it’s tedious work.
Another difference between this game and the rest is its combat system. Divinity: Original Sin adopts turn based strategy when swords clash, which is far from easy. Without paying attention, you will die.....a lot; more so because of the silly design choice that enemies are able to execute free turns when you decide to retreat or move away. Although friendly characters can do this too, it makes the fighting harder than it should be, and sucks the enjoyment out of it. Mastering the combat takes serious skill and strategy. Choosing the correct weapons and armour means success or failure, and mastering the heavily implemented element system is a definite must. Apart from the obvious being water and fire, poison enters the fray which is weak against fire: it’s a case of rock paper scissors.
Levelling up is not easy either, as enemies don’t re-spawn. This may be good news for some as it eliminates grinding and encourages exploration. It’s far too easy to wander into groups of enemies which are far superior to you though, so you need to watch your step - even if a feeble stealth mode is available.
Questing works differently to conventional RPGs. There is no hand holding, no markers or pointers, so completing quests means following the instructions you are given to the letter. Quest givers and goals are marked on the map, but finding them is extremely tough.
One area where Divinity: Original Sin really shines is its visuals. Environments are beautifully designed and nicely detailed and you don’t need a meaty rig to render it. Dark misty forestry, bright serene villages, caves and cliffs look amazing and houses can be entered without gameplay cutting out to load what’s inside. Due to the slow pacing of the combat, the particle effects from special abilities or magic spells don’t hinder the frame rate but they do look good. Monsters look menacingly tough, and boss characters are really intimidating so you know how hard the upcoming bout is going to be purely based on that.
On console, things have simplified slightly thanks to the controller mapping however they are still rather finicky. Holding the triggers brings up the menu selection be it inventory, log or equipment but it’s only recommended if you’re outside of combat. The other trigger selects which character you want to be. Thing is, moving around is slow. Your characters can’t sprint or speed up making moving around a chore. Seriously getting from a to b is long but once swords clash, things are better this time around as the controller mapping makes combat easier and more fluent.
Enhanced of course means prettier. The graphics are lavish. Beaches, cities and towns are super sharp at 1080p as well as the shading. It’s pretty much the PC version on Ultra settings which is pleasing on the eye.
The same deep story with loads of interesting characters.
Translates to console brilliantly.
Deep deep crafting system.
Movement is slow with no option to sprint or dash.
Can be too tough.
Controller makes inventory management a chore.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is a nice looking port although the controller makes micromanagement difficult. That’s not to say this game is bad as it is one of the deepest and intricate yet satisfying I’ve ever played. RPG fans rejoice, it’s worth your time.