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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (451)

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God of War 4/5
Doom (2016) 3.5/5
Armada 3.5/5
Detroit: Become Human 4/5
Destiny 2 4/5
Horizon: Zero Dawn 4.5/5
Oxenfree 4/5
Murdered: Soul Suspect 3/5
Kirby Star Allies 3/5
Celeste 4.5/5
Dark Quest 2 3/5
Just Cause 3 3.5/5
Guacamelee! 2 4/5
The Incredible Adventur... 4/5
Rise of the Tomb Raider 4/5
Dead Rising 3 4/5
Layers of Fear 3.5/5
Prey 3/5
Zero-K 2/5
Tales from the Borderla... 4/5
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 3/5
AereA 1/5
Divinity: Original Sin 4.5/5
The Yawhg 4/5

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Divinity: Original Sin   PlayStation 4 

You Can't Spell Divine Without Divin-ity    4.5/5 stars

Are we in a new golden age of RPGs? One could argue we are, and Divinity is a big reason for that. A rare kickstarter project with a happy ending, Larian Studios partially funded this on the platform and delivered big time. Both critics and players applauded the game, from both a story and game-play perspective, and it quickly became the fastest-selling game for the studio (only to be eclipsed by Divinity II). And all the praise is deserved as Divinity provides everything advertised, plus more, providing a rare RPG experience that is deep yet fun, with hours of content and much more depending on your penchant for exploration and side quests.

Presentation: The game looks great - from the characters to environments to enemies, the design is perfect for this fantasy setting. If there is anything I can nitpick, the game is so full of... stuff that it can be easy to click on the wrong thing (and, in town, can lead to pissing off people). But that aside, this is a fine-looking game from a design perspective. Even better, the voices and music are both amazing as well. Sure, sometimes the side-dialogue can get repetitive and your characters will often repeat each other ("I'm as warm as fresh apple pie!" is so much better when two or three characters say it), but it's not grating as much as somewhat funny.

Some people might be turned off by one thing - Divinity has a lot of text - fully voiced for the most part, but still a lot of dialogue. Also dialogue that requires actual input - decisions must be made and, sometimes, you even have to play a rock/paper/scissors mini game to win an argument (and often avoid confrontation). Still, I didn't mind at all, in fact I found it quite refreshing to not have a silent protagonist for once, with the game having a Tolkien-esque bent, though not nearly as dense and much more fun.

Story: The story takes place on the world of Rivellon, and control two Source Hunters, tasked with hunting down those who have been tainted by the power and have become dangerous and corrupt. The Source was not always so dangerous, but has been turned into a dark magic and no one is safe from its corrupting influence. Your mission on the surface seems simple - the seaside town of Cyseal to investigate the death of a local politician, Jake, where the Source seems to have had a direct influence. But far from being a simple murder, Cyseal is also fighting against both an undead threat along with an insidious cult and the invasion of blood-thirsty Orcs - and it soon becomes apparent these events are inclusive of on another. However, the investigation takes a back seat when the players find a crystal which teleports them to the End of Time, where they find themselves part of a much bigger story - as an entity known as The Void threatens all of existence.

This leads to a much larger story - one that delves into the history of Rivellon and involves powerful magicians, beings both divine and unholy and a startling revelation about your own destiny. Needless to say - there is a lot to take in, but the game never bogs down and always seems to move forward without boring you. Plus, you have the stories of your side-characters (should you choose to recruit them), each which provides insight into their respective worlds - from an animalistic daughter of the wild to a mute scoundrel to a powerful warrior trying to face a dark past to a mage seeking to restore his soul - each is totally optional, but fits in with the main story and provides plenty of optional dialogue and information.

Gameplay: A top-down, isometric RPG in the style of Diablo or the classic Sword Coast games, while Divinity may look the same, it plays much differently. While there is loot, this is not a Diablo-style action-RPG lootfest. And while it shares many characteristics with the Sword Coast/Icewind Dale games, it is not based on D&D and thus can create its own rules and lore. Divinity relies much more on strategy than Diablo - each turn-based battle gives you set of Action Points and everything you do from movement to attacking to casting a spell consumes these points. Thus you must somewhat plan out each battle - and there are several factors to take into account as both enemy types and environmental hazards come into play.

Divinity gives you a lot of freedom to play as you like - from tanky melee character to ranged archers to spell-casting badasses. As you accumulate more spells, magic arrows, better weapons and armor - it also opens up a lot of strategy. The game goes out of the way to give you tips about how certain affects will change battle. Steam clouds, for example, obscure the battlefield making ranged attacks (and spells) useless while oil and poison barrels can provide a fiery solution to any battle. Ice, electricity, water - there are several combinations you can use to incapacitate, slow and otherwise disrupt your enemies but you have to be careful, because these same affects won't spare your own characters.

Difficulty was never a huge factor. At points we might have bit off more than we could chew, but usually it was just a matter of gaining a level or two (and new, better items) to make certain battles more palatable. Leveling gives you access to a lot: ability points (strength, dexterity, intelligence and the like), skill points (Man-At-Arms, Marksmen, Scoundrel, and various schools of magic), ability points (for things like crafting, specializing in weapons, armor and such) and talents (such as the useful Pet Pal that lets you talk to animals as an example). Depending on your build, you will most likely focus in on a few key points in each category. My character was a mage, and I focused mainly on the fire (Pyrokinetic) and water (Hydrosophist) skills as they gave the best mix of Damage/Healing with a fair bit of earth (Geomancer) throw in as well. I ignored pretty much all the strength and dexterity-based skills while duel-wielding wands instead of the single-handed staff. I was also the resident equipment identifier, so spent several points in Loremaster.

Beyond battles and leveling, the game provides a lot to just do - main quests, side quests, exploration, lore, memorable characters and choices - so many choices. You can kills just about everyone in the game, should you choose, or be friendly with some of the enemies. You can choose to help NPCs or screw them over. Plenty of optional boss fights, hidden chests and a lot of humor among the rather grim story. The game rewards those who poke into the nooks in crannies without punishing those who just want to play the game.

The one thing that prevents me from giving the game a rare perfect score is the game did have a few hiccups. At various times the sound would cut out, rendering certain cues (like casting magic or opening doors/chests) silent - and it was annoying enough that a full reset was required to bring it back. The game also crashed a few times (though whether this was due to the game or just the PS4 I cannot say) and had a few quest bugs as well. Nothing game-breaking, but enough that I cannot, in good conscience, let it slide.

Replayability: The game has the standard difficulty settings, along with enough characters and and plenty of side content and even a few really masochistic skills for those who like punishment to provide multiple playthroughs should you choose.

Overall: Divinity is one of the best recent RPG games in memory with a sweeping story, memorable characters and plenty of interesting mechanics. A few issues aside, it's about as goods as you're going to get and highly recommended, provided you have the time.

Presentation: 4.5/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replayability: 4/5
Overall (not an average): 4.5/5

 

 


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