So, not that a lot of people have filled out my SUPER FAST SUPER EASY READER SURVEY, but the one bit of feedback that I got so far was that perhaps other people weren’t super excited about game reviews. I don’t know if that was more focused on video games or board games, but either way, I don’t post that many, and the one I’m writing about today has sucked up a big chunk of my life this fall so it would be wrong not to post about it. And I’m not exaggerating. Back in early September, the Boy saw that a cooperative role-playing game called “Divinity: Original Sin” was on sale on Steam (the online game store, distribution, play and community platform). He read some reviews and decided that it might be a fun game for the two of us to play together. He was well aware of my interest in role-playing games, and since there aren’t a lot of cooperative games like this one out there (and since we started playing, we’ve been looking really hard), he purchased a copy for himself and for me with the intention that we would play together. Amusingly enough, my brother did the same thing for himself and Nicole, but they haven’t been sucked into this game the same way we have. To date, we have played nearly 70 hours. That’s right – nearly 3 days worth of play over the course of 3.5 months.
And there’s a reason for that – it’s SO GOOD. Based on our Steam achievements and game level, I’d say we’re probably about halfway through. It’s hard to tell because there is no set path for this game – as the player, you make the decisions about where you will and will not go, and what you will do. Obviously different paths open to you as you get to higher levels, and you are only able to achieve and do specific things if you gain enough experience, so your choices are open, but they are still very much yours. What’s also your choice and yours is the characters. They are highly customizable – male and female, all colors of hair and skin color, and face shapes. The body shapes are fairly limited, but that’s because we’re in the video game world. But having that much control and the ability to make a character that looks like you (or not like you) is fun. This is our party – two of our player controlled characters and the two player-controlled computer-created party members. I play a battle mage, the boy a warrior, and we have a demon hunter mage and an archer in our group as well.
The story begins with the two main characters dropped on the shores of Cyseal – Source Hunters sent to track down “source” and “Sourcerers”, the evil magic and those who practice it. The pair make their way into town, and discover a murder mystery, and then it all just goes on from there. The writers of this game are amazing, because they connect so many disparate stories, and drop so many quests doing different things throughout the story. There are so many different options for what you can do, and that’s another reason why we’ve played so much. It turns out that my boyfriend is also a video game completist, so we often find ourselves completing small side quests because they’re just there and need to be done to get us the experience points and level up. And we can’t just let that lady not know what happened to her brother! Or the local cat who is looking for love go lonely. There’s so much, big and small and it all adds up.
Additionally, the gameplay is terrific. The number of times we’ve found ourselves marveling at the attention to detail that went into this world are innumerable. If a character is standing in some kind of liquid and an electric charge hits them, chances are high that they’ll be shocked and stunned. Characters who are warm have reduced damage from freezing attacks, and cannot be frozen in place, while those characters who are chilled and attacked with a water/ice spell are more susceptible to freezing. There were times when we would find ourselves after battles saying, “I wish there were a way to clean up all that poison” or fire, or static water. And eventually we found a spell that cleans it all up. It was available at a higher level, but it was there. But once we found one solution, other problems come up, and the game provides answers to those as well.
We have died a lot in the game. We find ourselves in battles with opponents who are too high a level for us, or who are on our same level. If they’re too high, we usually find ourselves leaving and coming back when we have more experience. But those battles with opponents on our same level usually require a few tries. Which strategies worked well in this first fight? Which resulted in our characters being slaughtered super fast? We talk about it, adjust tactics, and try again. Last night, for example, we found our way to a boss and his minions, and had to try the fight three different times before finally prevailing on the fourth when we figured out the best way to take care of the fight. Sorta-Spoiler: there’s a lot of crowd control tactics that we use in those fights with bosses on our same level. The most satisfying part is that moment when you figure out “AHA! This is how it’s done!” and then it becomes, if not easy, manageable.
And that’s the other cool thing about the game – yes there’s a lot of learning spells, finding cool weapons and beating up on bad guys, but many parts of the game are simply logical puzzles. You’ve been given some information about a location and how you might get through to the next important location, but you have to figure out how to do a thing in a room to move yourself forward in the game story. By requiring your players to think in this puzzle-solving way in addition to the boss-fighting way, you make a more complete and satisfying game.
Because that’s what this is – a completely satisfying game. It’s possible to play as one player, and to control all four of the members in your party. But I love playing with the Boy. I feel like it’s made us better communicators. He can tell when I’m getting frustrated with how things are turning out (if I’m trying to do a cool spell and it’s not turning out the way I wanted), and when I need help. He’s been so helpful to me, the newbie RPG player. And I like to think that I’ve helped contribute to our team as well – I’m very thorough (no loot goes unlooted!), I take direction well, and improvise pretty well within the game. I’d like to say that we fight less because of the way that gaming together has taught us to communicate, but that may just be coincidental.
In any case, we are both loving Divinity. We often find ourselves wanting to play it together instead of watching TV (hence, getting to nearly 70 hours of game time), and it does lend itself well to small chunks at a time game style, which happens quite often with us. And we were excited to find out recently that there is a sequel currently in beta that should be fully prepared whenever we finish the game. Honestly, the Boy said he thought it would be amusing for a few hours, but the fact that it’s been this long-term, intensively immersive game has been even better. I’m so glad that we have a game we can play together. So if you’re looking for a long-term immersive game to play yourself or with a friend, we highly recommend Divinity: Original Sin.