It’s a common occurrence to see re-releases of popular video games, sometimes multiple times. We’ve seen it all. Remasters and ports. Definitive and Enhanced Editions. The list goes on, and probably will until the end of time. Sometimes they work and sometimes they can feel like quick cash-grabs. Everyone knows that if someone likes something enough they will, at the very least, have the tingle of an urge to buy anything that sounds like it might’ve been improved in some way, shape or form.
All too often see some developers put forth minimal effort in their re-release – often just porting their game just enough to “allow” it to function on a different platform than it was intended for. But sometimes a developer can wow us by upping the ante and adjusting their product with such loving and attentive detail that it would be hard not to recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already have the game.
If you’re already familiar with the original release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 then you don’t need much of an introduction to the bigger and more complete version they’ve rightly called Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition (they missed a primo opportunity to call it the Divinitive Edition, but I digress). There’s really no better time than now to experience one of the best role-playing adventures in years, especially for console gamers tired of the usual Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest styled ones.
Note: PC players get all the updates and extras on the house, while console players will have to tinker with the controller-led interface and mechanics. Even the best game controller isn’t a real substitute for good old-fashioned keyboard and mouse controls, but the interface here feels pretty intuitive once you’ve got the hang of it. Generally, the game is the same across all platforms so get ready for an adventure you don’t want to miss – again!
Within the introductory period of the game, I felt a little lost. Once I familiarized myself with the game’s unique interface and trappings, though, I settled in for something that immediately began to feel special. You start to notice the amount of effort put into crafting this giant, immersive and completely compelling world. Combat is turn-based, meaning you’ll put as much time into your strategy as you will actually smashing buttons, so choose your actions carefully. However, you will need patience as you fight some fairly tough matches even when set to an easier difficulty.
Visually, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a beautiful game, with enormous areas to explore and giant monsters to vanquish and thrill over. On consoles the game sometimes stutters when there’s plenty of action onscreen, though never to the point of disappointment as this isn’t a game that requires a perfect and stable framerate to enjoy.
The game as a whole is punishing if you’re not careful and thoughtful about your placement and timing of attacks. Larian Studios knew must have predicted a few exasperated players as they’ve implemented a new “Story Mode” to make the game even more accessible to those just wanting to play through Divinity’s absolutely tremendous story. And by tremendous I mean exactly that.
Another huge improvement is Active Search, a nice feature which allows you to search areas for anything available for your perusal instead of forcing us to pixel hunt for the right item we want to select. Looting four separate crates takes a fraction of the time, letting you focus on more important areas.
Larian Studios must have thought the writing was tremendous – which it totally is – as they’ve included more of it, a lot more. This comes in the form of all-new recorded lines of dialogue and several adjustments to each story and ending. The more the merrier, I say, especially as the game is deliciously dripping with depth and dedication to the world they’re trying hard to sculpt.
Fantasy tropes are ingrained in our culture. We know a hero when we see one. It’s hard to build a world that doesn’t feel like a fantasy world as we know what a world can be capable of when we see magic fireballs fly or when we don’t. The world Divinity presents doesn’t try to change or break the mold in this respect. Rather, it attempts to strengthen the one area countless others have to in the past, only to (mostly) come up short: conversation.
You can talk to, and I mean full-on conversation, with everyone in the world in such a way that feels like every one of the NPCs scattered throughout the map could potentially have their entire life reenacted in front of my very eyes and I would still be intrigued. All characters believe they exist in this fantasy world, which in turn forced me to care about it, too. Striking up a conversation was instantly engaging.
I never once felt bored or fatigued with the dialogue, no matter how banally main-plot-RPG-story it might be. This isn’t to say that the story itself isn’t unique or interesting, but it’s more a thread to keep you invested in a setup that requires full immersion on the part of players to get the most out of. It’s not hyperbole when I say I haven’t seen a story this in a video game before.
It’s an impressive amount of dialogue that simply works. At times you’ll find yourself laughing out loud while at others you’ll be thoroughly engrossed in the drama. Gaming is an interactive form of storytelling, after all, meaning any attempts to convey the sensation at just how effective a mood Divinity creates would be foolish on my part; just dive in and allow the game to work its charms.
It takes a lot for me to feel real desire when I play a game these days, but Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition does exactly that. It’s a struggle not to log back in after a well-earned save just to spend a few more hours in this sensationally crafted world, easily one of the most fleshed-out and thoughtful designs I’ve ever seen. While the overall combat can be intimidating, it’s also something I want to actively try to succeed at just in order to see more of dialogue that they have in store. Fans who’ve been on the fence should put aside their reservations and join the battle right away.