Review: Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition (PS4)

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Title: Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (7.67 GB)
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Larian Studios
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M
Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition is also available on Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

There are very few instances where I can honestly say that a developer has gotten it right. These instances become even more rare when they deal with role-playing games. There is an even deeper layer of rarity when talking about role-playing games ported from PC to console.

The last time I was this pleased with a PC port of an RPG was Diablo 3 on PlayStation 3 (and PlayStation 4). So much attention was given to making the game “work” on a console that one would have been forgiven for thinking that the game was developed from the ground up for console.

I had the same experience while playing through Divinity Original Sin – Enhanced Edition. So many things are done well here that, if I hadn’t known of its prior existence on PC, I might have thought that Divinity was created for PlayStation 4.

Gameplay:
Divinity is a strategic role-playing game. Despite it sharing a visual style (and camera placement) with Diablo, combat is more akin to the original Dragon Age. It’s not a dungeon romp, so lets get that out of the way.

When you engage in combat, the action stops and you are allowed to plan your attacks, moving characters across the environment and casting spells. This is what makes Divinity’s combat system so satisfying. I have played many games like this in the past, but very few make use of the environment like this one does. It makes you really think about your next move, particularly when using magic.

If you are surrounded by undead skeletons, carrying lit bombs strapped to their backs, for example, have your magic-user cast rain on the environment. The satisfying result is having all the fuses go out, accompanied by a disappointed cry from the little skeletons.

… it doesn’t take long to learn from your mistakes …
But you aren’t done. Why not cast a spell that lights the environment surrounding the skeletons on fire? Instant chain explosions. Is the enemy standing on water? Lightning spells will add damage and chain that damage across all enemies standing on the same surface.

While this makes spell-casting incredibly fun, factoring in the location of your companions is paramount. If, say, your own teammates are standing in that watery surface, they will also take shock damage. So positioning your characters when preparing to unleash spells is very important.

This might seem daunting, particularly when these levels of combat complexity are usually not reserved for console RPG’s, but it doesn’t take long to learn from your mistakes and truly enjoy Divinity’s amazing combat system.

The rain spell will put out fires.

The rain spell will put out fires.


Another thing that makes the system great comes from beyond battle. Every character in your team is able to level in various ability areas. So if I really want my rogue-like character to have his own heal spell, then I can train him in that school of spells and buy him the appropriate spell book, allowing him to learn the spell and use it in combat.

Naturally, because my magic-user has a higher intelligence, my rogue’s spell won’t be as powerful, but the fact that I can mold every character in whatever direction I want adds a strategic element that expands beyond the combat arena.

Divinity Original Sin is not a game you will complete in one sitting. The world you are cast upon is huge and exploring every corner of it is encouraged, if you want to find the best equipment.

… Characters and locales look great …
It should be noted that the transition from PC has been done gracefully, and navigating through menus and selecting abilities and characters is as easy as can possibly be achieved in a game like this.

Selecting a character on the field is as simple as holding L2 and picking him or her from a radial menu. Similarly, holding R2 opens up a radial menu that includes, equipment, character, items, logs, etc. Pressing the center button opens up the map and allows you to set waypoints and plan your route through the wilderness.

Local multiplayer has also been addressed in a way never used before in an RPG of this kind. But more on that later.

Divinity : Original Sin Enhanced Edition_20151101230807

Visuals:
Colorful environments run silky smooth on the PlayStation 4, and this is the case even when you are playing splitscreen (albeit with a tiny framerate hit). Characters and locales look great, regardless of how far or close your camera is to the action.

The further you get with your spell casting, the more dazzling the effects get, lighting up the screen with particle goodness. I do wish that there was a bit more customization in the character creator.

My class choice was centered around rogue-like attributes (silent but deadly) but my character looks like He-Man because I couldn’t make him more slender and slithery. Regardless of this very minor gripe, Divinity exudes polish and care and the world you will explore is lush and welcoming, encouraging exploration and discovery.

… an example of how everyone should do it …
Audio:
Your journey through the world of Divinity is accompanied by some well-engineered sound design. Atmospheric dialogue and ambiance is appropriate to the visuals, although some of the shopkeeper banter became repetitive after a few visits to town.

It’s also a delight to see that the developers didn’t take themselves too seriously with some of the writing and dialogue in the game. I’m also pretty sure that, the animal sounds in the game were voiced by a person.

The score for Divinity evokes a sense of adventure when traveling, cheer and whimsy while exploring towns, and urgency when in combat. It’s not necessarily something that you will be humming the next morning, but it does the job well.

An absolutely awkward situation.

An absolutely awkward situation.


Online/Multiplayer:
It’s so easy to get multiplayer games like these wrong. The single-player mode in Divinity has you controlling a party of four characters, strategic turn-based combat, and a large world to explore.

Split-screen in a game like this would normally scare a developer away from even attempting it. Larian is no such developer. Split-screen multiplayer in Divinity is an example of how everyone should do it.

While it would probably be very difficult for a game like Diablo 3 to achieve this type of same room co-op (what with dozens of enemies on the screen at once, rendered twice), Divinity achieves a fully supported split-screen mode.

… the fun doesn’t stop there …
By this I mean that the second player has full control of the second character in your party (which he or she can create) and is free to explore the world independent of the first player. Usually games like these force one player to travel along side the other, or worse, wait while the other player shops for equipment, while you sit and watch.

In Divinity, you can literally take control of the remaining characters and head for a dungeon, while the first player decides which spells to buy back in town. Player one can engage in combat while player two roams around town wasting time. Of course, this means that player one has no access to player two’s abilities, but the option to split up is there.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Your characters can agree or disagree with each other on various moral dilemmas in the game. For example, I can agree to help an individual, but my partner can choose to disagree with me on the matter. He or she can choose a dialogue response that expresses disagreement. If your characters cannot agree on a topic, then a mini-game of rock-paper-scissors will determine the winner of the argument.

Disagreements like these happen often in Divinity.

Disagreements like these happen often in Divinity.


The online system works almost exactly the same, with the exception of each player having the entire screen to themselves, which reminds me – you have the option of a single-screen multiplayer which only goes into split-screen when the individual players walk too far apart.

With such a thought-out multiplayer system, I truly wish that Larian had implemented an “import” and “export” system for bringing your main character into another player’s game. As it stands now, your partner can begin a game with you and even create his or her character, but if another friend wants to play with you, he or she must control the already created second character, or start the game over.

It is by no means a deal-breaker, but I have a few friends that are interested in playing this with me. If they join me, they would have to control my second character, that they did not create, instead of bringing their character along for the ride and taking the experience earned back to their game.

… this game will not disappoint …
Conclusion:
I have spent dozens of hours on Divinity and have enjoyed every one of them, playing alone and alongside a friend. The combat system is solid and allows from some fantastic experimentation, as the environment plays a large role.

The storytelling isn’t phenomenal, but it will hold your interest and keep you playing. If you’re like me, you absolutely recognize Fallout’s brilliance, but simply prefer fantasy RPGs over post apocalypse settings. If so, this game will not disappoint as a perfect adventure to spend the holidays with.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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  • ChazzH69

    I knew this game would be good. Added to my must buy list.