Crowdfunding remains a favorite topic of mine, especially as we’ve seen project after project crash and burn over the years just as I predicted they would back in 2012. Let me tell you, those were tough days to be crowdfunding’s Cassandra! Nobody wanted to hear that giving money to game developers just because they asked nicely might backfire at times. It took Mighty No. 9, Spacebase DF-9 and numerous other failures to really drive the point home that crowdfunding can be a dangerous proposition for games enthusiasts.
Then, though, sometimes it’s not always a mistake to throw money at projects. Take Larian Studios and their game Divinity: Original Sin, for instance. This was a fantastic RPG that allowed cooperative play in a way that we really hadn’t seen before; it became a classic of the genre and did well enough to merit a sequel. Now we’ve got Divinity: Original Sin 2, an exceptional game that does a lot to prove the value of the crowdfunding model all by itself. I guess you can’t just paint the entire model with one brush stroke, huh?
Centuries after the first Divinity: Original Sin, the dangerous magic of Source and its practitioners, the Sourcerors, still haven’t been stomped out. You’ll choose from one of several premade Sourcerors, each with their own unqiue backstory and dialogue options, or create your own character and then promptly get shipped off to Fort Joy, a sort of Sourceror concentration camp. Finding a way off Fort Joy is priority one, but there’s more going on here than just survival, and as the game progresses the stakes become very high indeed.
This is an RPG in the classic computer gaming style, meaning there’s turn-based combat, lots of dialogue and plenty of exploration. original Sin 2 is unique, however, in that it allows up to four players to join in simultaneously. Characters are generally not tethered together outside of significant story events, so generally speaking four players can help one another or go off and do their own thing depending on their preference. Dialogue is controlled by whoever initiated the conversation, with other characters able to listen in, and in a nod to the previous Original Sin player characters are still able to have conversation and discussion among themselves.
Combat plays a big role in this sort of game and it’s one of the places where Original Sin 2 excels. The Action Point system used in the first game returns here, but it’s been polished up to a mirror sheen. Characters can specialize in any number of different areas, from magic to archery to sword-swinging, and this results in unique combatants that each feel different to control. Further, efforts have been made in curbing AP costs for many types of action (support actions in particular) so players generally don’t have to deal with boring turns. Another significant change is the addition of rechargeable physical and magical armor that provides protection against both damage and status effects; this goes a long way to rounding out the original game’s crowd-control-focused combat and giving characters something to do other than try and shock or stun the entire enemy party constantly.
Thanks largely to the armor system, Original Sin 2’s difficulty curve feels much more balanced than the first game; it was rare that my group and I ran into seemingly unbeatable combat in Original Sin 2, whereas in the first game that was a fairly common occurrence with fights that required multiple replays to get through. The degree to which characters are able to help and hinder one another – for instance, by laying oil on the battlefield then setting it ablaze – makes for every fight feeling fresh, interesting and open to improvisation.
Adventuring with friends is, then, a pleasure all around: combat is fun, nobody has to be left out of dialogue and the game world is huge and open to exploration. Add in the fact that there are generally multiple ways to approach a situation and it makes for an RPG that begs to be played and replayed. My group ended up being some of the nastiest villains to ever blight the land of Rivellon, but it was clear in many places where things could go differently if we were trying to be heroic. That kind of thing opens the imagination and keeps you thinking about the game even when you’re not playing – the signs of a really solid adventure.
Original Sin 2 looks and sounds great as well. All of the game’s environments are lovingly designed and there’s something to be said for how interesting the characters can look as well; my elf, in particular, wore some fantastic-looking naturalistic gear as he became more powerful that looked absolutely menacing. Original Sin has plenty of voice acting which is a sort of cherry on top; I can’t recall any characters that gave especially bad performances, but there were numerous voiced dialogues that worked especially well.
Look, I’m still never going to crowdfund anything, but games like Divinity: Original Sin 2 are doing a lot to help prove the value of the model to me in a post-Mighty No. 9 world. It’s a fantastic RPG that’s even more fun with friends; it’s also a fairly lengthy game that begs for a second playthrough. This also means it’s a must-have if you appreciate the genre at all and an especially-must-have if you have friends who feel the same way. Pick it up and enjoy.