I’m a very frugal human being, which means I’ll always make sure to get my money’s worth. Don’t mistake me for being cheap, I’ll still buy a round or 2 at the pub, but I’ll keep record of how many I’ve paid for so I don’t lose out. This frugal nature of mine is probably the reason why I enjoy RPGs so much, a genre which almost guarantees I’ll be staring at my screen for hours upon hours , enjoying myself greatly knowing that my cash has been well spent. When Larian Studios announced that Divinity: Original Sin was coming to consoles I jumped at the chance to explore this supposedly excellent title that I had missed out on with not owning a decent enough PC. 20 minutes into this game I knew it was going to be great, but I didn’t think that at 20 hours I’d consider it one of the best RPGs I’d ever played; I honestly didn’t think a cartoony adventure game with daft jokes and talking rats would cause The Phantom Pain to gather dust.
Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is, well an enhanced edition of the critically acclaimed Divinity: Original Sin which hit PCs everywhere last year to astonishing success. Fans who already own the original title will receive this edition for free, whereas newcomers and console owners will find it available to them for a more than worthy price. This isn’t just a re-release with a glossy makeover no no no, Larian Studios have done all they can to make this the definitive version of the game with all new quests, character customization, a heavily rewritten story and all new voice recording which now features AAA voice actors, so it seems like the original release made them quite the pretty penny. Also featuring new game play modes and massively reworked visuals, the enhanced edition definitely serves up an impressive list of enhancements worthy for new players to dive into and a sweet reward for fans of the original that made it all possible. Divinity: Original Sin follows 2 heroes on their quest to uncover the mysterious death of a councillor in the city of Cyseal in Rivellon. These are not just ordinary heroes, they are Source Hunters, warriors tasked with putting an end to Sorcerers, blood magic and all those that put the land in jeopardy. Upon investigating the death of Councillor Jake, secrets are uncovered and a plot to raise an ancient King from the grave makes this a tale for the ages and it’s not long before the Source Hunters are asked to save their country. With a narrative of epic proportion and a turn based combat system to provide immense strategy, it’s no surprise why Divinity: Original Sin was such a huge hit, so how does it transition onto consoles and is it just as good 12 months later?
I wasn’t lying about this being one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played. I didn’t know what to expect coming into this game as I only began my research for it a few weeks prior but boy oh boy is this a fantastic tale. Visually Divinity is gorgeous. It’s cartoony animation and presentation is like a hybrid of Diablo 3 and Kingdoms of Amular: Reckoning (one of the most under rated RPGs ever made) with its lush environments and hugely contrasting landscapes. The game’s weather, terrain and enemies are all wonderfully created and with its wide range of vivid, loud colour schemes, not one region of the map looks similar to another one so much so that even each cave looks! One of the biggest new features of the Enhanced Edition is the impressive length Larian Studios have gone to re-record every piece of dialogue as well as write in a hell of a lot more and their time has definitely paid off. Every main character and companion couldn’t be any more dissimilar to each other and every one of the NPCs you meet within a city have their own voices and phrases, meaning you aren’t obviously talking to the same voice actor within a 2 mile radius. Divinity too blends together the perfect combination of drama and humour, as you could accept a quest to kill a band of orcs who are violently killing the city’s soldiers but you’ll talk to a cow on the way about how he can see into the future. It’s this inclusion of genuinely funny dialogue, characters and voice work that make this game such a joy to play, which is great because Divinity is also a very difficult game to play and talking animals take a bit of the frustration away.
In Divinity you’ll find yourself accepting quests left, right and centre with no sense of direction or prompt in how you’ll complete them. More often than not you’ll stumble across something on the map or kill a particular enemy and it just so happens that it ties in with a mission you accepted several hours ago. The map itself will point out some areas of interest for you that vaguely relate to what you’ve got to do but you may not be strong enough to tackle that particular quest, so instead you must walk away and save it for later. I guess Larian Studios wanted to make a challenging adventure game with exploration at the heart of it, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little shove in the right direction every now and then. Divinity can also be a very frustrating game in particular to some of its boss fights as they can sometimes grind your adventure to a halt. On a few occasions I struggled with a particular battle because I genuinely couldn’t go anywhere else as I wasn’t strong enough, however once I’d eventually beaten said boss the next couple of hours were an absolute breeze. Unlike traditional RPGs where you would grind for a while, killing weaker enemies to gain experience, in Divinity enemies remain dead and the only way to level up is to explore and complete quests, which can be difficult when the only areas left for exploration contain enemies much more stronger than you. Though I do appreciate a frustrating level of difficulty as it adds longevity to an otherwise short game, a few too many spanners were thrown into the works that caused me to lose my cool and begin to walk round the map aimlessly hoping to find a quest more suited to my level; without assistance on the map this was made all the more difficult.
What separates Divinity apart from the competition is how it presents multiplayer co-operation, as it does so in a truly unique way that works superbly. You begin by creating 2 characters, you can control them both on your own or the screen can split and a friend can jump in and out willy nilly to help you on your epic quest. Normally both players can only remain in each other’s company, however in Divinity each player can branch off and lead their own adventure. Whilst Player 1 is tackling zombies in a cave to the East, Player 2 can go off and challenge a pack of wolves in a forest to the West, smoothly and successfully. Whether it’s local or online co-op, Divinity: Original Sin encourages players to break out of the traditional RPG mould and live by their own rules, an idea which as a huge fan of the genre is completely new to me and one that has me sold on the franchise. Following on the theme of going against tradition, Divinity too features turn based combat, which though isn’t unheard of these days, it is relatively unique to an RPG of this calibre and setting. Each character you control has a particular amount of action points which determine what attacks they can pull off and pulling off a sound, strategic plan makes for a much more challenging and enjoyable playing experience opposed to just swinging a sword and hoping it hits something, like what usually is the case with medieval/renaissance set RPGs. Porting a PC born RPG onto a home console can be a risky task especially when it comes down to controls; I mean what’s easier than just pointing and clicking? In regards to using a controller, the act of exploration and interaction is very easy, however when selecting spells, abilities and specific enemies on the battlefield, your curser can get a little lost and confused. Divinity also requires a lot of team management and you’ll find yourself looking at your characters equipment and stats an awful lot, but still to this day I keep pressing the wrong trigger buttons, accidentally consuming potions and killing my own companions. Every one of the controls works completely fine, however it’s nowhere near as straightforward as it would be had I been playing this on a PC or laptop.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, Divinity: Original Sin is an amazing game and the upgrades introduced by the Enhanced Edition just make it the best version you could ever hope to play. Both the visual and audio upgrades make the game better than ever and the re-written story and additional quests are just the icing on the cake. The lack of quest direction and assistance do cause the once enjoyable jaunt through the land of Rivellon to become an incredibly frustrating and difficult one, especially how you only gain experience through exploring and killing enemies. The game’s unique handling of multiplayer co-op is very well executed and though it could still be unfavourable amongst RPG fans that just like to play them solo, the fact that the option is there and it works so well is simply remarkable. When games are re-released with new content or with minor upgrades it’s difficult to honestly find what’s so different about it, however in this case it’s clear to see the appreciation Larian has for its fans by not only improving the original, but by gifting it to those that made it possible and offering it a bigger, wider audience. Up until this point I had Bloodborne in mind for my game of the year, now I may have to rethink my decision.
*Massive thanks to Koch Media for the copy of the game for us to review
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.