Published on February 26th, 2014 | by Tony Odett2
Divinity: Original Sin Hands-On Preview
I haven’t been getting my proper fix of dungeon-crawling or loot gathering lately, as there has been a dearth of quality loot gathering titles since the flood we experienced in 2012.. Thankfully, I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the Steam Early Access title Divinity: Original Sin. Now I can say with certainty that the genre is alive and well, with at least one quality title coming down the pipe.
I’ve always found games like Diablo to be a bit too clicky for my taste. My actions-per-minute with a mouse have never exactly been a thing of beauty, and anything I can do to slow it down so I can savor both terrific battles and my surroundings is something I welcome. I find Original Sin appealing because, while you can click around the screen and have your character move at will, as soon as an enemy is encountered, the game switches to a turn-based combat model. As I started the game, my characters moved slowly up a beach toward a city. I moved off, looking around, finding a dead body here, a crate there. Suddenly, I encounter a giant crab who sent off his crab minions to attack me. The game switched seamlessly to the turn-based model. Each of my characters had a number of action points to use for both movement and combat, forcing my warrior to choose between standing my distance and having the enemy do the work, or moving close enough (but not having AP left to attack). My Wizard had no such trouble, and began to cast fire into my foe.
The combat felt solid, and at points (even in the first few areas) was very challenging. You can use the environment to your advantage (I blew up an enemy force when my wizard cast his fire spell on an oil barrel) or disadvantage (I killed a zombie, who then spread poisonous goo all over the ground between my warrior and the enemy that was shooting her with arrows). It was in the 5th or so combat encounter that I was forced to resurrect my poor warrior with a scroll, a quick reminder that the enemies in this game are not to be trifled with, even from the beginning.
Being a dungeon crawling RPG, one expects a couple of things: solid character customization, a development tree with lots of options, and copious loot. While the character customization is mostly locked at this point in the Alpha, I can say that the leveling system provides lots of options. Character can develop skills in a number of areas, and even add skills from other character types. Want to be a warrior wizard? Go right ahead. And of course, the loot was everywhere, from dead creatures, in barrels and chests, and sometimes just lying there on the ground (holding the Alt key showed all the loot, which I was grateful for on many occasions). I did occasionally pick up a leveled item that I couldn’t yet use, but my characters seemed to level at decent pace, so this wasn’t much of an issue.
Divinity: Original Sin is delightful. My one concern at this point was going too far and seeing all of my saved data wiped out (this is alpha code, after all- at some point the upgrades will cause you to lose your saved games). I must also say that, for an early access game, this title has already squashed a number of bugs, and is eminently playable if you’d like to just in this very moment. The game certainly scratches that high fantasy, dungeon-crawling, loot-gathering itch, with the turn-based combat making the game’s pace relaxing and enjoyable. I look forward to the full release later this year.