It’s a common lamentation among aging and elder gamers, I think, that these are bittersweet times. With the advent and maturation of services like Steam and GOG, and the continued march of the mobile regime, there are vast libraries of entertainment at our beck and call. The big studios continue to churn out their well-polished opi (not to be confused with oppai) and also their greedy time sinks. Indie developers meanwhile have finally gained purchase, mostly through Kickstarter, to pursue their own destinies. And the golden classics enjoy re-releases and compatibility updates.
It is therefore a painful reality that presents itself: that most of us are bound by duties, human relationships, and fiscal obligations, and can no longer devote the hours needed to explore all of these new worlds. In some cases other, smaller human beings in their larval states depend upon us spending our time productively so that they may continue to live and grow. Bah!
Difficult decisions must be made. Like books, it turns out, some games should only be tasted. This is so others may be devoured or occasionally chewed and digested.
I wanted badly to enjoy Pillars of Eternity. I loved Baldur’s Gate, and though I never made it entirely through its sequel, both games were fantastic examples of world-building and credits to the Forgotten Realms universe. They did great things with the engines they were built upon.
Pillars of Eternity brought me back to that, in a way. I could see that something epic was taking shape. I loved the class variations – many of the old reliables like barbarian, monk, ranger, and rogue, but newcomers cipher and chanter. They also chose to do stats and resistances somewhat differently. And hey – pistols and blunderbusses!
Combat was a challenge, which was nice. Pretty reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate. Lots of pausing. Lots of dying and reloading. The Keep! I wanted to explore this further. But it was the little things that turned me off.
As much as I like to say that I, as an “old-school gamer,” don’t need fancy graphics or the latest game engines, they do help. The graphics in and of themselves were fine, but the text was just too small for me. For a game without much voice acting (which really does help these days) and so much reading, I really needed larger, more easily readable text. What an old man I’ve become.
I also felt no real urgency to the main quest, even from early on. Maybe that was something to be developed. My allies were somewhat varied and interesting, but they barely spoke up. It’s nice that you could converse with them, but not all of them had much to say. And so I didn’t really feel that invested in my party.
And so I decided to give Divinity: Original Sin a shot. And I have to say, while it may or may not be a masterpiece, it hits a lot of the right chords.
First off, combat is so well done. It has its flaws (targeting special arrows, which want to autolock onto nearby enemies despite me wanting to shoot them at terrain, drives me nuts). But man, it can be crazy and seriously fun. There are all kinds of environmental effects that can either screw you or be used strategically to crap all over enemies. You can lay down oil (which by itself applies a slow) and then set it on fire. You can douse enemies or lure them into water, amplifying cold and conducting electricity for shock effects. You can lay down smokescreens to blind or conceal. Hell, you can even set poison gas clouds ablaze. One of my favorite tactics so far is to lay down barrels of oil when I know a fight is going to go down. Then I lure enemies into the area and kaboom!
I think fighting is really the highlight of this game, which I feel is an odd thing for me to say about an RPG. Let me heap a little more praise on the pile – D:OS went with a turn-based, tactical combat system. No mana or ability points for your skills and spells; you just use action points (which you gain per turn) and wait for your cooldowns to refresh. There may not be a ton of depth to this system, but it helps make combat easy and fun. There are also tons of useful scrolls, grenades, and other items that you can use. Man, just thinking about it makes me want to play.
Thus far my thoughts on the story are similar to how I felt about PoE. I don’t really feel any urgency, though there are some pretty weird story elements introduced fairly early. The party members I’ve picked up might be interesting, but they don’t really contribute a whole lot to the story at the moment. There’s this wizard in my group who’s a demon hunter, which is pretty cool, but he’s kind of a dick. And not in a funny way, just in a brooding emo way. Good thing he can make enemies go boom.
Compared to PoE, the graphics seem crisper and everything is easier to look at. Maybe because the colors seem less neutral and washed out in Original Sin? The Enhanced Edition that I’m playing also has voice acting for just about everything, which is a boon. The text seems a bit easier on the eyes, as well.
Long story short, I think I’ve that PoE was a game to be sampled (for me, anyway), while Original Sin may warrant some chewing.