Divinity Original Sin 2 is RPG Tactics BLISS.

Putting the RP back into RPGs, that’s Larian Studios’ Divinity II.

Rivellon needs a new god. Are you up to the task? This is the main storyline of Divinity: Original Sin 2, Larian Studios’ sequel to their critically-acclaimed (and I assume very successful) crowdfunded RPG, Divinity Original Sin. I admit, while I own the original game, I haven’t played it- but I am aware of its quality from reviews and LP’s I’ve seen online. However, something about the sequel just grabbed me. I loved the look, the design and the feel of this new game. The original ‘Original’ sounded great, but I admit I found the look a bit bland, and the story didn’t grab me (still doesn’t). You played as ‘Source Hunters’, adventurers specializing in taking on quests involving ‘The Source’, Rivellon’s answer to The Force, which has been used and abused by ‘Sourcerers’ for generations. That was all I knew about it. But the sequel impressed me with several things- one, the look.

It is GORGEOUS. I love the new graphics, the detailed new world, and the characters- the Elves are TALL, beautiful, more nature-y (yes that’s a word now) and apparently FLESH EATERS. There’s a new Undead class where you play as what appears to be a sentient lich-type being. And, while you can create a custom character all your own from scratch with the excellent Character Creation, the best bits of Original Sin 2 is playing through the several ‘Origins’ stories.

Several fully-voiced characters or heroes are available to be played to see their stories through- Sebylle, the vengeful Elven beauty, hunting down the Master who scarred her face. The Beast is a Dwarf sea captain (or pirate?) looking to overthrow his cousin, an evil queen. The Red Prince is a Lizard seeking to reclaim an Empire. A possessed bard, a ruthless mercenary, an undead scholar round off the cast. All these heroes have their own agendas, and they can do it by themselves or with the help of the other characters- but in the end only one can become the new Divinity.

This game follows the tradition of pen-and-paper-flavored RPGs like the Baldur’s Gate series, but on steroids. Instead of being solely an isometric 2D world, Rivellon is 3D, allowing you to rotate, zoom in and see the world from all angles. As with the original, the beauty is in the gameplay- the actual ‘RP-ing’ aside from just being a story with lots of fighting along the way. You’ll have to work the brain a bit to solve situations or decide how you go about things. How do you treat people and NPCs? Are you haughty and prideful, selfish and pragmatic, or will you be a good-hearted man/woman/undead of the people?

When a crucial NPC needs to be freed from captivity, you can try to do his evil captor a favor. Or you can just KILL EVERYONE. That is, if you can. While roleplay and multiple paths/methods are beautifully implemented, the game is of course firmly solid in combat. Fighting is tactical turn-based through and through, and you will have to exercise your noodle quite a bit to get through the many battles- Explorer mode is the easiest difficulty but even then, the game will often put you into situations that seem heavily weighed against you with punishing ambushes or deadly traps. But often, there always seems to be an alternate route or direction to take… if you have the right tool or talent at the crucial time.

A seemingly-unbeatable boss fight making you tear your hair out? Level up your skills and gear so you can kick butt like hell. OR just freaking find a sneaky way to bypass the fight and make the bastard literally grovel at your feet (HAHAHA). Some boss fights can be defeated by dialogue instead of combat, depending on your character’s persuasiveness. Or a special talent or item you just may have may also turn the tide or change the course of history. It’s awesome.

You start off his game, like many of the best RPGs, as a prisoner bound for an infamous penal colony and interment camp. You are dressed in scant rags, barefooted and armed with little more than primitive weapons or jury-rigged tools. Aside from your skills and abilities, you have to work on getting yourself kitted out to kick ass, both with gear to find, purchase, barter for or craft. Grab stuff you find and craft weapons, armor, clothing or potions. Search high and low and you just might find a magical weapon or suit of armor to bump you up a notch or two in the Rivellon food chain. And, if you’re an Elf- EAT EVERY CARCASS YOU FIND. GROSS BUT AWESOME.

Still, there are some times where I found the game being a bit unfair or weird- you have to be very careful during combat as sometimes you may find your character attacking the floor where you intended to just move. In very detailed situations with tons of fire everywhere (SO MUCH FIRE) it may get a bit hard to see what’s going on. But that doesn’t mar this game’s beauty, both in looks and gameplay, at all.

That all said, this game’s difficulty is easily one of its main appeals- its unflinchingly unforgiving, even at the easiest difficulty (Explorer). Simply walking into a boss battle or a trap will surely get you right between the jaws of an ambush or a deadly trap, and in a world where single archers can pack the punch of an airstrike and screw up your party from second one of the fight, you just can’t afford to simply traipse into the bad guys’ den and expect to power your way out of the situation unless you’re really, really strong or really, really good. Often this game will kick your ass the first time, making you try to seriously rethink a situation. The difficulty is two-pronged; if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you go in half-assed and unprepared, you’ll feel like the game is utterly unfair. Try it another way and you’ll be floored by how butter smooth things can go.

In fact, this game is such that you may find yourself restarting your entire game simply to rethink your character’s build, or your party’s composition and try something new. But doing so doesn’t seem to be a chore at all, but a tribute to this game’s amazing depth and replayability.

Divinity 2 is an RPG where RP-ing, and your choices, really matter. And it doesn’t only matter for the big picture or the main quest. Your choices can greatly affect how things go. in one instance, my main character had a flirty little episode with an NPC… when violence suddenly erupted in the area later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was suddenly being aided in the vicious brawl by my new friend (who actually ended up turning the tide quite a bit). Its moments like these that made me realize- this game has got its thing DOWN.

Some easy but super-important tips: TALK to everyone you can. Explore everywhere, twice. DON’T fight every battle by your enemies’ rules. If you find yourself hitting a brick wall- think about how Batman or Superman would tackle the problem.

If you want an engrossing, incredibly playable challenging and incredibly replayable RPG with awesome roleplaying elements, where your choices really matter, with tons of options, both single and multiplayer fun that looks absolutely GORGEOUS, you can’t go wrong with Divinity Original Sin 2. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a city that needs liberating…

Divinity Original Sin 2 (PC): 5 of 5
THIS is how you do an RPG. It’s that good. It’s Final Fantasy Tactics with a far superior (and fare more comprehensible) story and a true playbox where your choices matter. Games like this don’t come every blue moon- this cannot be missed.

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