Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition (PlayStation 4) Review

By Chris Leebody 26.02.2016

Review for Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is an encapsulation of the ideals of freedom in gaming. Freedom of development first allowed it into being, with its Kickstarter-backed PC original. Freedom also informs a gameplay system that leaves much of the character development away from the core narrative, a battle system that allows for unique combinations of elemental forces, and a world that allows characters to diverge wildly from the main story and interact with the many colourful inhabitants of Rivellon. Indeed, in a sign of the changing landscape of console gaming, the freedom to even allow a core PC-based cRPG experience to arrive (and be well accepted) on a gamepad-controlled home console is remarkable by itself. With the release of Divinity alongside other past cRPG titles, such as the critically praised Wasteland 2, maybe this is the continued introduction of the much-loved genre to a vast new audience.

First thing to note is that Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is a slow burner. This is a title that belongs to a bygone era. There are no flashy introductory cut scenes with AAA voiceovers neatly summing up a setup. You are thrown into a vast and conflicted world as two "source hunters" with an obscure mission in a land with many diverse arguments and plots. Admittedly, this takes a few hours to kick into gear in any meaningful sense.

This comes back to the aforementioned sense of freedom. The first few hours will involve interacting with tens of NPC quest givers and doing many vanilla errands and tasks. Would it be possible to have railroaded the introductory few hours into a sort of tutorial? Sure. But that would be doing a disservice to an invigorating feeling: the feeling of player responsibility in this sandbox cRPG.

Divinity encourages cooperative multiplayer, and again, this is not confined in a neat box. There is a sense of wonderful expression in having a friend completely drop the current quest and venture off into the world unknown, taking on additional quests and generally exploring alone.

The impressive thing the title does with this is manage to make these features seamless and workable. It is a brilliant achievement when one considers the myriad of RPGs over the years which stick to a very linear path and yet still manage to fall apart. That Divinity succeeds in allowing players to kill every NPC they meet but still functions as a coherent game is deserving of praise.

Screenshot for Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

Speaking of praise, much of it should go to the excellent writing, which contributes greatly to a very real sense of character development. If there was some criticism of the overall writing it would be that it tends to be very heavy in unexplained lore. However, this is usually standard with this kind of RPG.

What is not as standard is the way dialogue choice is intertwined with the narrative of the main characters and other adventurers you pick up along the way. Characters are not split down the middle between good or bad, instead having a rich gamut of emotions which change depending on the context of the situation and debate.

These debates are what I found so impressive about the narrative and character development in Divinity. They allow a gameplay feature to be extracted from what is usually a fairly bland process. Each character can take a different point of view, and what ensues is a rock-paper-scissors contest based on their traits. The full enjoyment of this is probably not experienced with an NPC controlling the character, but with another player, it allows a streak of competition into a cooperative experience.

Screenshot for Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

The area of contention at the time of the original release came from the battle system. That is to say, a turn-based battle system that uses ability points for movement and attacks. It is fair to say this will disappoint some who favour the much quicker-paced and action-packed real-time system used in classics such as Bauldur's Gate and Knights of the Old Republic.

However, what this allows in its stead is a real richness of strategy to the proceedings. Battles take place in the world itself, so no hexes are generated and environments can be used to maximum effect. One of the key features flaunted - and what most will find so memorable about the battle system - is the use of spells and attacks in conjunction with the natural environment created on the battlefield.

Is it raining? Use a lightning based attack in the puddle the enemy is standing in to send a shockwave through them. Poison gas cloud? Use a fire arrow to create a large explosion. There are many more combinations on top of that, and the system is developed more than any other RPG that immediately comes to mind. What this means is that battles feel different and fresh more often.

Screenshot for Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

Battles also feel hard. In fact, Divinity sits on the harder end of the scale for RPGs in general. Just because there are so many ways to damage the enemy does not mean they go down without a fight, and the AI usually takes quite strategically impressive moves. A good and varied selection of bosses throughout the campaign also adds a bit more spice to things. The only sour note in the battle system is that the mage class is slightly overpowered. Speaking of character classes, there is a good selection, with over 10 preset and varied classes available to choose from.

In regards to the specific PlayStation 4 port of Divinity, it is pleasingly very well transferred over. The visual presentation has made it unscathed from the PC to home consoles, and with the art style, it is a very pretty looking game. That said, the character creation is not the best and does not allow for the most visually pleasing characters to be created. It is a very large world, though, and a lot of attention to detail has been put into it.

Obviously the most pressing part of any console-based port is how well a traditional RPG transfers to use with a controller; it's not the most immediate natural fit when it comes to this genre. Thankfully, it all works well for the most part. It is a little fiddly changing characters with a few button presses, and the inventory menu could do with being less cluttered, however, the basic game is more than playable using the pad. In terms of improvements, some bugs that have been cleaned up, but the feature that stands out in this Enhanced Edition is that all the dialogue is fully voiced, and voiced well at that.

Screenshot for Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is an enhanced version of what was already a monumental RPG. With this release on home consoles, everybody now has the chance to enjoy what is one of the generation's best games. It does so many things that other RPGs do not, allowing more freedom to explore, fight, and build a character on the player's terms. The story here is neither revolutionary nor the best one seen in this genre. However, it is what is around the story that makes it such a compelling experience. An incredibly interesting battle system, great dialogue and general narrative development launch the title into the top tier. The fully voiced characters are the cherry on the cake. This is a AAA-level experience with a 60 hour adventure created using indie money, and that is one of the biggest compliments you can give to a developer and a game.

Developer

Larian Studios

Publisher

Koch

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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