Hardcore RPGs aren’t a genre you typically find on console anymore. Despite them having a profound impact on the industry during their heyday, they seem to have faded into the background over the years unless you have a PC. It’s clear that Larian Studios are aware of this, and want to change it for the better. After a stellar port of Divinity: Original Sin, the critically acclaimed sequel has also made its way to console with a slew of tweaks and changes in the form of the Definitive Edition. There was no doubt that the core experience would remain the same, but whether or not the translation to console would affect it is another thing entirely.
Set in the world of Rivellon, Divinity: Original Sin 2 follows the player character on a journey to becoming Divine, enabling the abilities to hold back the Voidwoken and all of its threats from reality. The Voidwoken are attracted to an energy known as the Source, which is used to cast spells and improve combat capabilities. The player has the choice of picking from one of six pre-defined characters with deep backstories and connections to the world that make each of them unique. While it is recommended you play as one of these characters, it’s also possible to create your own from scratch to allow for a more personal experience.
My experience with Divinity: Original Sin 2’s narrative will be vastly different from many others’ experiences. It’s a game driven by choice in every sense of the word, and this ripples through its main narrative and side content. I felt like my dialogue and quest choices had weight behind them, which gave them a sense of meaning and legitimacy that most games strive for but never quite achieve. The side content is intricately weaved and connected to the main narrative in a way that feels natural, and I almost always felt compelled to engage with it when the opportunity arose.
The countless number of characters you’ll engage with are all excellently written, and the relationships you’ll foster with them make them feel like real people. They’ll do things you don’t agree with, and vice-versa, as you continuously try to keep synergy and order within your party group. It feels like a band of unique people who desire the same goals for separate reasons, and it works to a beautiful effect. This is amplified further when you play the game cooperatively with other people, which makes the gameplay even more enjoyable.
Divinity: Original Sin 2’s combat features some of the deepest and nuanced turn-based battles I’ve had the pleasure of playing in an RPG. There are so many ways to tackle encounters before actually engaging in battle. Negotiating, sneaking, dialogue choices and more can all determine how a quest plays out and how conflict is resolved. When all hell does break loose, and it will, is when proper strategy starts to come into play. There are so many things to consider and micromanage at once, which can be overbearing at first, but it quickly turns into a satisfying and rewarding affair. Designating roles to each of your team members and using skills in tandem with one another is key to victory, which is not easily achieved on the mid to high difficulties.
The quality of life changes that come with the Definitive Edition are small tweaks and additions that make the experience more enjoyable. Larian listened to feedback and what little criticism was made about Original Sin 2, and most of it has been fixed. The journal is far more organised, inventory management is streamlined, and the third act has some more fights and polish put into it. It boggles my mind how such a demanding RPG can be mapped to something like a Dualshock 4, but it’s done in a way that feels natural for a console RPG that has come from a mouse and keyboard.
As far as isometric RPGs go, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is the best-looking one I’ve played yet. The use of bright colours and lighting during the day make the world feel alive and vibrant, while dungeons feel like dark and decrepit holes of danger. The environments and models are wonderfully detailed, and it all runs smoothly, despite how hectic combat can get with particle effects and explosions. I did run into a couple of immersion breaking bugs during my time with the game, but nothing that halted or ruined my gameplay experience.
It’s rare that you see a game on the scale and size of Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition succeed on so many fronts. Numerous systems that all rival eachother in depth work in tandem to create a role-playing experience that is unmatched in recent memory. It harkens back to the days of traditional RPGs, and improves on the formula in every conceivable way, making for an experience that feels like it’s ever evolving as you keep second guessing the decision you just made. It’s a wonderfully executed port that deserves the attention of anyone that enjoys the genre it celebrates.