Divinity II, the long-awaited official sequel to Divine Divinity, has finally hit the shores of the USA. Here are our initial impressions from the first few hours of gameplay with the PC version.
Near as I can tell, Divinity II feels like a low-budget version of Dragon Age with an active combat system. Within five minutes of booting it up the first time, I knew I was going to enjoy it immensely…despite the slightly dated visuals, there is something undeniably charming about the whole experience. It isn’t quite what I would consider a B-game, but it certainly couldn’t be considered top quality. There are aspects of it that feel purposely unpolished, as if the designers recognized that some rough edges gave it character.
The voice-overs are delectably cheesy, yet at the same time very well done. Conversation choices are entertaining and over the top, while still somehow managing to provide an answer to an NPC’s question. Despite the serious tone of the primary storyline, humor runs rampant in Divinity II…it’s rare that you have a conversation with someone wherein you don’t chuckle at least once, and some of the conversations bring about full on belly laughs. I recall both Divine Divinity and its spin-off Beyond Divinity being funny, but not like this.
Gameplay is overall quite good, although I think the combat system could use a few tweaks. Having more control over the targeting system would be awesome, and at times melee combat can feel like a clickfest; I would have liked to have seen a mouse-based combo system similar to what can be found in The Witcher. Also, getting stuck on the environment seems to be a constant problem in small spaces. Still, despite these small hangups, the combat system manages to be fun, engaging, and challenging. I love the freedom given to you regarding the skill trees; you can put points into any skill as your level permits, allowing you to create a truly unique character. If you want a powerful warrior who can summon creatures to fight alongside him, you can. Likewise, you can have a lock-picking elementalist if you wish. The possibilities are endless, and although I haven’t gotten far in the game yet, a jack-of-all-trades build seems like it could be viable if you find good enough gear.
Speaking of gear, the pace of weapon drops seems to be decent so far. Just as my weapon was starting to feel underpowered, I came across a new one that served my needs perfectly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like I’m coming across new armor quick enough (either from drops or vendors), but I am still relatively early in the game, so that may change. The different weapons and armor are certainly the highlight of the visuals…each one looks great, and the current blood-stained cleaver looking thing that I’m using looks like it belongs in a horror movie. Great, great stuff.
Considering the size of this game, I’m not quite ready to do a full-blown review on it. Also considering how many comics I’ve been reading lately and that I’m trying to finish up the first Uncharted, plus my recent refound love for Civilization (manifested this time in Civilization Revolution on the DS), my available playtime for Divinity II is diminishing. Lastly, I’m not sure how far I will get before Mass Effect 2′s impending release, which is sure to dominate my gaming time for 2-4 weeks.
So, to wrap things up: the first few hours spent with Divinity II have been overwhelmingly positive. I was expecting a decent game on par with Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity, but Larian Studios has really delivered something special here; I can’t wait to spend more time in the land of Rivellion.
Update: I have about 20 hours or so of play time on Ego Draconis, and my initial impressions still apply. Divinity II has a definite b-movie feel and could benefit from some serious combat tweaks (the issues I mentioned above are exacerbated as the game goes on), this is still an awesome game well worthy of your hard earned money.