The impact of Gary Gygax’s and Dave Arneson’s brainchild on the world of RPGs can be felt even today. Larian Studios’ latest, Divinity: Original Sin, owes more than just a few nods to its predecessors, yet it steps out from their shadows to establish itself as one of the finest CRPGs in some time.
It has only been within the past year and a half that I have actually delved into the world of Dungeons & Dragons myself. Though I am a long-time RPG and fantasy fan, the realms of Faerun, Greyhawk, or Barovia never interested me much outside of books and other forms of entertainment. I’ve heard mention and praise of titles like Planescape:Torment, Baldur’s Gate, and more, but these have never been a part of my gaming catalogue. For me, Divinity: Original Sin is my first venture into a world inspired by D&D, and I have found myself utterly immersed within it.
Just as D&D allows players to choose the class and abilities of the character they’ll be stepping into, Divinity: Original Sin allows you to pick from 11 different character classes for the two main characters. These classes vary from straightforward melee, to spellcasters that specialize in a couple different elements, to hybrids that utilize skills from both physical and magical skill trees. These classes can then be further customized by making adjustments to the three main characteristics. A character’s attributes define his or her strength, speed, dexterity, and the like; abilities grant access to melee/ranged skills, magic, and defense; and talents are special skills that provide various benefits, like talking with animals. Attributes not only determine what type of armor you’re able to wear or how many action points you get in battle, but they also will provide bonuses to many of the magic and melee/ranged skills you use.
Once you’ve determined who you’ll be playing as, you’re introduced to where you’ll be playing: the world of Rivellon. This particular incarnation is set in the earlier times of the fantastical land - before people turned into dragons and used jet packs - and focuses on two Source Hunters who are tracking down reports of the use of Source, i.e., “evil” magic, in the city of Cyseal.
The initial investigation actually puts you into the role of a detective as you try to track down who’s responsible for murdering a noble and whether or not Source was used to perform the deed. You’ll look at the body, talk to witnesses and suspects, and try to gather evidence. It’s a different start to a game (no big battles or calls to glory), but it serves well to put you into the roleplaying aspects of the title. You’ll explore a town, meet different characters that have their own worries and personalities, pick up a bunch of side quests, and eventually decide to venture beyond the city walls. The starting town and its surrounding area are vast enough that it is easy to spend a few hours there without even touching much of the main quest. That exploration and side-questing will eventually entail having to fight some zombies, demons, and more.
Divinity: Original Sin’s combat is an isometric turn-based affair. There’s a roll for initiative (behind the scenes) at the start of every battle and each combatant is then ordered appropriately. Everyone is given a certain number of action points (APs) that can be used for moving, attacking, and using skills. Ending your turn before all your points are spent allows you to store them for the next turn so there’s a certain balance of going all out and holding back for bigger moves.