In an age when RPGs are often full of uninteresting fetch quests, lackluster mechanics and the illusion of choice, Divinity: Original Sin 2 feels like a refreshing breath of fresh air. Larian Studios has created an incredibly potent and quality sequel to the original, and it's one that has left its mark on the gaming industry and set the bar for all other future top-down computer RPGs.
Setting and story: Immerse yourself in Rivellon
The world of Rivellon is a living, breathing world that reacts to its inhabitants depending on their actions, and it makes no exception for you.
Rivellon is an immersive and beautiful place, jam-packed with mysteries and wonder. Whether you're exploring a dense forest, investigating a wreckage on a sandy beach, or braving a dark, damp and dreary dungeon, there are numerous ways in which you can interact with your environment. Hidden treasure, secret passageways, and more await those who are willing to delve deep.
Of course, the characters and communities in Rivellon are where the true meat of the setting's depth lies. Choices you make in this world actually matter, unlike many other recent RPG titles. Throughout the story, you'll be faced with several decisions, such as sparing or killing enemies, becoming romantically involved with characters, and helping those in need.
All of these, and every other decision you make, will positively or negatively impact how those around you feel about you, both your companions and other folks you encounter. These changes have a major impact on the way the story progresses.
The game gives you complete freedom to do and go whatever and whenever you want — but be wary, for the game also is never afraid to introduce you to the consequences of your actions. Want to murder an innocent shopkeeper? You are fully able to do so, but nearby guards won't hesitate to draw their blades on you in turn. Think you can haggle with a merchant? Give it a shot, but don't be surprised when they become annoyed of your lowballing.
All of this ultimately helps make Rivellon feel like a real location, one that molds and shapes itself in reaction to your adventure across its vast landscapes.
Gameplay: Turn-based combat, modernized
Enemies in Divinity: Original Sin 2 are disposed of via turn-based, tactical combat.
Sticking true to the Divinity series' Dungeons & Dragons-inspired mechanics, turn-based combat makes a return to the sequel — and it's better than ever.
Using Action Points (AP) that regenerate each turn, both you and enemy forces duke it out on the battlefield. In general, heavier attacks tend to cost more AP and have cooldowns, so spamming the same effective attack each turn is impossible. This forces you to evaluate the abilities of both yourself and your comrades and come up with plans and combinations that will maximize damage done to enemies, while also keeping yourself alive.
In many ways, this system is like a game of chess; think two, three, five moves ahead, and you'll find more success against your foes. Learning the ins-and-outs of the game is challenging at first, but with practice, you'll eventually get the hang of it. That isn't to say that this game ever becomes easy. In fact, it gets exponentially more and more difficult. However, the challenge posed by each new encounter is an absolute joy to experience.
In terms of classes, there are a total of 14 different ones to choose from. Each one offers unique benefits on the battlefield, and all of them have abilities that combine well with other classes. Because of this, it's important that you make sure your party is well-rounded; a diverse set of classes gives you the best chance for success in combat. On top of the class system, there are different species as well. Each one has a unique ability, which may be of help later on.
Lastly, the quests in Divinity: Original Sin 2 are entertaining and interesting. While there are some fetch quests, they're few and far between — and everything in the middle is a treat to experience. Breaking someone out of prison, investigating a murder, killing a specific enemy, and finding a food thief are all examples of the types of quests you'll run into.
Multiplayer: Join forces and take on custom-made challenges
The cooperative multiplayer allows you to team up with three friends to face Rivellon together.
Cooperative multiplayer makes a return appearance in Original Sins 2, except this time, it's vastly improved. Instead of being limited to two players, you can now band together with three other friends for a total of four players working together at once.
In addition, Game Master Mode, a mode in which you can create custom dungeons and other areas, was implemented. This effectively allows you to create an infinite amount of adventures for you and your friends to play. With the Game Master Mode, the only limit to the sheer longevity of Divinity: Original Sin 2 is your own creativity. These can all be downloaded from the Steam Workshop.
Art and sound: The epitome of atmosphere enhancement
The visuals, sound design and music of Original Sin 2 increase the immersion tenfold.
To say that the music and art in Divinity: Original Sin 2 is excellent would be an understatement. Both visually and audibly, the game is flawless. In both calm and combat, the beautiful score accompanies you through every step as you traverse the gorgeous world of Rivellon. Conversations with characters feel meaningful and convincing thanks to the stellar voice work, and each attack and ability have their own unique sounds.
Performance: A masterfully optimized game — with one blemish
Despite small hiccups in frame rate, Divinity: Original Sin 2 runs excellently.
For the most part, the title runs incredibly smoothly, more so than most other new games. However, I did encounter frame rate drops from 80 frames per second (FPS) to about 40 FPS in combat situations where lots of magic was being used and there was a high amount of particle effects on screen. Aside from this, though, the game runs fantastic.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 review: Conclusion
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a polished, well-designed RPG, and through its phenomenal mechanics, astounding art, sound design and fantastic writing, it is sure to revolutionize the modern RPG genre.
- Tactical, strategic combat system.
- Excellent diversity of gameplay through classes and species.
- Improved multiplayer mode, as well as map editor.
- Beautifully crafted dynamic world.
- Stellar music and voice acting.
- Occasional frame rate hiccups.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is available on Steam for $44.99.
This review was conducted on a PC.