Friday, July 11, 2014

I'm a sinner

Hód Astyron and Ilaera of the Night (!!!) in glorious low detail.
I'm so weak. I'm a sinner.
No, I'm not a repenting priest.
I caved in and purchased Divinity: Original Sin, the shiny new computer RPG that, according to reviews and user comments, is the new Baldur's Gate III or as close as you can get to such a dream come true. I've been hankering for a solid RPG for a while and I certainly don't mind the isometric view/party thing, and from what I could gather it had a lot of nice little improvements on the formula even if it doesn't renew the genre. So it kept nagging at me until I gave up and added it to the list of games on Steam I don't have time to play anyway...
...the character creation wasn't all that, and after a few attempts at building two roles I'd like to play I ended up with two characters I liked well enough, and entered the story. And that's when the game grabbed me, a sprawling mass of NPCs and dialogue and quests and all the little details that make an RPG an experience beyond simple gaming.
Now, I am taking it real slow, but I've given the game a few hours, getting into the town of Cyseal and meeting colorful characters, and it is really like wandering through a new Baldur's Gate again, with similar dialogues, similar small quests, only this takes place in the fictional world of Rivellon instead of the Forgotten Realms.
A few nifty new concepts make the game (and the genre) even better - such as being able to play off your two main characters; a much more interactive environment (as an example, use lightning spells during rainy weather for increased damage); creativity and attention to detail gives you countless small nooks and crannies to explore; the genre's best quest journal with all you'd expect from a game that doesn't lead you by the hand, but it isn't unforgiving either; fantastic turn-based combat with heaps of options; it's all pure candy for a geek like myself.
Stylistically, the game is more Dungeons & Dragons than, say, A Song of Ice and Fire (still holding on to the hope of a game of this quality in Westeros), with an early scene in the main quest very closely modeled on the pocket plane sequence from Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. Other nods to the Baldur's Gate games include a graveyard where the epitaphs are humorous, and I expect to see more homages as I actually get around to play some more (I have only three hours played and two achievements..achieved).

My characters are, not surprisingly, somewhat modeled on Ice & Fire characters although I had no idea before I was well into the game and suddenly realized I was playing Ser Jaime Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen adventuring together. Well, kind of.

Hód is a scoundrel with charm, and the witch Ilaera is rather charmless; cold and ruthless. Actually, I called Ilaera "of the Night" because I thought that if the mighty DARKSTAR had a sister, it would be her. So I chuckle to myself every time an NPC addresses Ilaera as Ilaera of the Night. Of the niiiight!

I'm running the game at lowest quality but the gameplay makes me forget I'm not seeing things as well as I could; sometimes the game crashes (which is an issue on 32-bit systems they are aware of) when saving; some punctuation errors and minor grammatical glitches in the dialogue trees; and some of the plot that was revealed seemed a bit "huge" so early in the game; they took "EPIC!!" and threw it right in my face, which I didn't like as I love it when the story gradually, slowly, branches toward said epicness. Or is it epicallity? Epicity? Epication? Whatever.

At any rate, if you like Baldur's Gate, Divinity: Original Sin is pretty much guaranteed to tickle your fancy. Not all your fancies, perhaps, but most. The game even has an editor so you can make your own RPGs with it, so I expect Ice & Fire mods to prop up sooner than later. I haven't checked it out, obviously. I keep forgetting I'm a responsible adult with no time for games. Boo!

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