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Old 04-01-2013, 09:42 AM   #1
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[Preview] Divinity: Original Sin

I'm going to go ahead and say a few magic words for the CRPG lovers in the crowd: "Ultima VII". Are you warily interested yet?

Larian Studios operate out of Belgium and have been making Divinity games for a long time, as you may recall. But in recent months their focus seems to have been split: they've been developing the eminently entertaining Strategy-Action-RPG Dragon Commander, but also Original Sin.

I went in to the preview having not been exposed to any previous Divinity games, or even most popular CRPGs. While most folks were playing through Ultima VII or Baldur's Gate I was happily floundering through countless JRPGs on consoles or (shhh) emulators. I don't have a lot of the nostalgic connection to the genre, so it's safe to say that I was pretty thoroughly impressed at the depth of Original Sin when I sat down to play.


Original Sin is a fixed-focus isometric game, with realtime movement that breaks down into a turn-based system when combat starts. The clicking to move, raiding of chests, abundance of side-quests, all of that should feel familiar. There are a few additions, however, that set Original Sin apart.

The first thing you should know is that Original Sin is intended as a cooperative game. Two players at different computers play through the game simultaneously. You can play alone, controlling both of the main characters, but that's honestly a lot less fun. Part of my fascination of the game was the way that the two characters interacted, and grew from their interactions.

Around the very beginning of the game, as my companion and I wandered around getting our bearings, I found a book next to a corpse. My character read it aloud to the other character: apparently this man leaped from the top of a cliff because his Gods told him if he did, he would fly. My partner's character said that the man was obviously a fool, and I was offered a choice of dialogue options. I could either agree, disagree, or not make up my mind one way or the other. I disagreed, and said that sometimes you have to trust the gods. My character gained two points of Faith, my partner's gained two points of Cynicism.

You can read more about the Party Dialogue System in the Kickstarter, but it was constantly enjoyable to play. When the characters disagree, there's a hidden system that measures their persuasive abilities against one another and you get to see the outcome. There may have been more than one occasion I overruled my partner and insulted some guard's mother just so I could test out the combat system.

Combat is turn-based, with each character getting a set amount of action points to divide between movement and attacks. There's magic in the game which ties deeply into the Divinity lore; the spells are fun to pull off and usually have interesting side effects. Why not throw up a wall of ice between yourself and your enemy? Then, once it melts and your enemy is left standing in a puddle of water, electrocute them with a lightning spell for extra damage. There are all kinds of weapons and items littering the world and the pockets of monsters, and while Original Sin isn't a hack and slash loot crawler by any means there's more than enough to keep your eyes open for.




Now though I had a great time, this isn't to say that the game was completed by any means. There were plenty of placeholder graphics, silly little bugs, and camera glitches. But the areas we had to explore were vast, and the scenery was gorgeous. It had been a long time since I wasn't able to rotate my view to suit my personal needs, but I gradually realised the greater artistry this affords the developers.

You can read more of their core principles and guiding ideals over at their Kickstarter, but I do want to let you know that this is not a pie in the sky concept. I played this game for about 45 minutes, wandering about at my leisure, and didn't reach any kind of artificial wall. Hell, I found a dungeon that half of the development team didn't know about yet. It's never a good idea to talk up a Kickstarter before its hatched, but I can tell you that Larian studios has been developing this game in good faith for a long time. It's a lover letter to an older style of game, which is becoming more and more common on Kickstarter. But Original Sin has the building blocks in place, and is even offering up something new: the co-operative story mode is something that I literally cannot wait to play through with a friend.

Larian Studios is working hard to bring their specific vision of gaming to your PC. Their dedication and excitement is infectious, and having played their product it's pretty easy to see why. Give their Kickstarter page a look. Divinity: Original Sin is going to be released whether the Kickstarter succeeds or not, but it's safe to say this game is one you're going to want to be on the ground floor for.
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Old 04-01-2013, 09:52 AM   #2
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Hmm.

Co-op = no.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:04 AM   #3
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You can play through it as single player, controlling both characters if you like. But it skips over a lot of the really cool interaction systems if you do that.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:07 AM   #4
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Yeah, I saw that. But it does seem like the developers are focusing on making it a co-op affair, which generally tells me to stay the hell away.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:12 AM   #5
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What specifically about co-op spooks you? You don't need to be on the same screen as your ally, you get separate companions and henchmen, you can find your own gear, take quests, and act completely independently of them. It doesn't feel like a burden at all.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:22 AM   #6
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Some people just don't like co-op.
I think it looks kinda neat.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:35 AM   #7
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I get that, I guess I just don't see the same kinds of poor decision-making that most co-op based games have (rubber banding, poor balancing, etc) here and I was curious.

I've never played a co-op CRPG before and to be it felt pretty cool.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:45 AM   #8
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I was reading a bunch of stuff about this the other day and it sounds brilliant. I don't see the co-op focus being to the detriment of the lone player. It's still a party-based RPG, it's just that two of your possible four are main characters, instead of the usual one. Anyway, co-op RPGs are in seriously short supply. These days you get single-player RPGs or MMORPGs.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:47 AM   #9
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I was really keen, but there's some no sale stuff for me there alas. I'm not a fan of the breaking into turn based combat for a start. Ah well.
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Old 04-01-2013, 10:54 AM   #10
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:19 AM   #11
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I backed this, I guess we do promote games that are on kickstarter before they reach their goal.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:22 AM   #12
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This is not a sight-unseen promotion, Rune. I played this game and Dragon Commander in Los Angeles while Larian Studios were on their media tour. If the game was to be released without a Kickstarter and you took out every sentence referencing it you'd still have my opinion of the game. I haven't backed it with my own cash (I'm on the fence about it at the moment) but it was a lot of fun to play and the devs were great answering questions and explaining their ideas.

It's quite a bit different than seeing something I want funded on the internet and plastering it on the front page.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:23 AM   #13
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True, I do know quite a bit about the game...and like I said I backed it. I hope they can make that amount of 400k.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:31 AM   #14
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I backed this, I guess we do promote games that are on kickstarter before they reach their goal.
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This is not a sight-unseen promotion, Rune. I played this game and Dragon Commander in Los Angeles while Larian Studios were on their media tour. If the game was to be released without a Kickstarter and you took out every sentence referencing it you'd still have my opinion of the game. I haven't backed it with my own cash (I'm on the fence about it at the moment) but it was a lot of fun to play and the devs were great answering questions and explaining their ideas.

It's quite a bit different than seeing something I want funded on the internet and plastering it on the front page.
Indeed, I was concerned for a brief moment when I noticed this article in the works, but once I realized (about 2 seconds in) that Gabriel had actually played the game it seemed fine to me.
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Old 04-01-2013, 11:48 AM   #15
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What specifically about co-op spooks you?
Personally, it's a time commitment thing. With 2 kids running around, it can be hard to coordinate time with people. I tend to play more games that you can pause at a moments notice...say, if a child wakes up in the evening crying her head off
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:32 PM   #16
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Personally, it's a time commitment thing. With 2 kids running around, it can be hard to coordinate time with people. I tend to play more games that you can pause at a moments notice...say, if a child wakes up in the evening crying her head off
Fortunately, in a few more years you'll have co-op players living in your home that have to do what you say.
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:35 PM   #17
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Fortunately, in a few more years you'll have co-op players living in your home that have to do what you say.
I actually thought about you when I was talking with the devs, Ink. They talked about wanting to get past the now-typical "conversation wheel" and really get to branching conversations that rely on how you've played your character before. Struck me as something you might be interested in

You just got TAPATALKED
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Old 04-01-2013, 12:49 PM   #18
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Hmm...I'll give it a closer look. Thanks.
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:46 PM   #19
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Great review Supes. We shall co-op the shit out of this.
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Old 04-01-2013, 06:40 PM   #20
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Great preview, Supes! I loved Divine Divinity back in the day. Hopefully this can capture that same magic, and hopefully it's a great experience when played single-player.
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