Divinity: Original Sin II Impressions

Larian Studios' newly released CRPG sequel has been in an "early access" phase on Steam and GOG for months now, so it comes as no surprise that reviews-in-progress and other impression pieces for the official release of Divinity: Original Sin II are already finding their way to the web. It is abundantly clear that this game is going to raise Larian's global respect level to an even higher - and well-deserved - point.

Polygon goes for the review-in-progress:
A lot of different things can happen in Divinity: Original Sin 2; it’s an RPG that is overwhelmingly about planning ahead yet still being completely taken by surprise. A seemingly inconsequential conversation with someone can lead to them dropping dead from some unholy and unknown force. An arrow shot astray in a fight can cause an unrelated and cascading loop of fire, poison and electricity to render a nearby area completely impassable. A teleportation glove can lead someone too clever for their own good somewhere they’re absolutely not prepared to be.

Isolated into their most basic elements there’s a predictability to everything, a logic that can be employed in some situations (particularly combat) for perfectly unsurprising outcomes. Conversations, battles, and quests are all scenarios to be solved, one way or another. Of course murder’s always on the table, but maybe the real key is in an innocent red ball looted from a previous encounter (which hopefully no one traded for a lockpick). Maybe it’s in a healing spell cast over the wounded. Maybe it’s in the character themselves. Origins as well as tags (some of which are set at character creation, while others can be acquired) can impact a character’s options in many different situations. There’s a lot to be said for knowing who an NPC may or may not want to deal with.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun does the impressions thing:
John: I could probably go back another step and ask, did you play the first Original Sin?

Adam: Think harder and you’ll remember my excellent and thorough review of it. I’m sure you said it deserved a Pulitzer at the time, or whatever award people hand out to the likes of us (it’s a Peperami and can of Tizer – ed).

It’s a very good game but Original Sin 2 is better in just about every way that matters. Part of that is budgetary, I think. Both were Kickstarted but that’s a fraction of the costs involved – with Original Sin 1 there are areas that feel undercooked, particularly toward the end. The sequel is much more confident. It seems strange to say given how successful it became, but the first was quite experimental. A big, systemic RPG that didn’t have much in common with either of the Bethesda or BioWare poles that loom over the landscape.

It’s a different beast to the Infinity Engine inspired games that have come along recently as well – the likes of Pillars of Eternity – and I wasn’t sure it’d find an audience. In the end it found a big enough audience for the sequel to have much more money behind it and I’m hoping that means it’s solid right through to the end. I still haven’t finished it though so I can’t say for sure just yet!

PCGames N is still chiseling away at their review:
You should know that Divinity: Original Sin 2 will happily abandon a lovingly-written quest if you happen to snip one of its threads. On one level that’s admirable, and one of the key tenets of its sandbox. On another, it’s a bit frightening. At an early juncture I became stuck, only discovering through reference to a walkthrough that I’d unknowingly blocked two of three ways to progress - and entirely missed the third. I walked that last remaining questline very carefully indeed, as if it were a tightrope above a game-breaking abyss.

In similar fashion, combat can make progress teeth-grindingly tough. Play as one companion character, kill off another, perhaps rebuff a third for roleplaying reasons - suddenly you’re looking at an underpowered party in a campaign that can quickly get gruelling. The punishment is leavened to an extent in Explorer Mode, which buffs your friends and weakens your enemies, but only so far. It’s frustrating when Larian’s peers have established a new frictionless standard in this area - Story Time in Obsidian’s games, and Story Mode in Icewind Dale’s Enhanced Edition - that makes the genre truly accessible to those without the patience for micromanagement. Divinity 2 could stand to be that friendly.

And then Multiplayer.it appears to have their final review up, giving it a 9.4/10:
Divinity: Original Sin II is the perfect sequel to an already excellent game. The finish work done by Larian Studios is really commendable, as well as the most attention placed on all the most criticized aspects of the original. The result is a deeper, wider, technically improved role playing role, and now has a more interesting narrative side, qualitatively close to the level of some of the best productions of Obsidian. Do not play it would really be a crime, both for fans of the genre and for all those who love video games and do not get scared by more complicated systems than the average. So, do yourself a favor and buy one of the new benchmarks for hardcore role playing.