by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on PC
Beanbags & beer
“Return to the days when the realm was young and evil first reared its head. In the wake of a terrible sin, two heroes share one destiny.”
Entering Larian Studios booth at this year’s Gamescom, we were greeted by walls filled with artwork for Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Dragon Commander. Lots of sparsely clad women and ugly looking monsters stared back at us, and don’t even get me started on the studio employees themselves! Before I knew it, we were lounging in beanbags, customary Belgium beer in hand and ready for Producer David Walgrave to show us Original Sin.
Original Sin is a top down, party-based RPG with turn-based combat and a prequel to Divine Divinity. It tells the story of a condemned male warrior who has been suffering years of agony and torture and his female companion, a recently resurrected heroine. The game is set in the free nations of Rivellon that are about to be overrun by the Orcs of Tanoroth and thus in desperate need of help. Only our two heroes stand between the Orcs and the destruction of Rivellon.
Original Sin sparkles with vibrant, lively colors. They don’t make the game look cartoony but they do make it look a little friendlier than the majority of RPGs out today with their dark, gritty browns and blacks. It doesn’t mean the game cannot look gloomy either. Entering an area featuring a haunted lighthouse, the colors darken, completely changing the atmosphere.
Both heroes and Orcs wield Source Magic which puts the powers of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water at their disposal. Working similar to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, spells from different elements cancel each other out, but they can also strengthen one another. We saw a good example of this when the David ran into some creatures that he suspected did not like ice. He made it rain and then turned the water into ice hoping to do some serious damage. It turned out not to work very well so he needed a different plan. With the ice still there, his co-op partner used fire to melt it back to water and then he himself shot a bolt of electricity in to it. The result? Fried creatures!
One of the main themes in the game is interaction with the game world. If it is not too big or nailed to the ground, it can be moved, used, destroyed or combined. You can move barrels, hurl logs at your co-op partner’s character (seriously, they did this during the demo), but also smaller things like rugs and chairs. It is important to pick up as many items as you can – no matter how useless they may look – as you never know when they might come in handy. Combine a poisonous mushroom with your sword and you get a poison-tipped sword, combine a knife and a log and you get a wooden puppet which may later be used to create a much needed voodoo doll. An apple and a poison bottle give you a detox potion and a bucket and a broom are a start at creating a new set of armor. Wait. Really!? I’m not sure how useful a broom will be against even weakest bad guys in Original Sin, but a big man running around with a bucket on his head certainly looks entertaining.
A reputation and attitude system keeps track of your actions. Barging into someone’s home and meddling with their belongings is best done when they’re not around, unless you don’t mind having a tarnished reputation of course. You can do whatever you want when they are away from home, like giving their living room a new look by rearranging all the furniture, or stealing a piece of paper that you can use to complete that voodoo doll you were trying to make earlier. Just don’t walk out the door yelling “I got it!” as the owners tend to get pissy when they recognize something that belongs to them even if it’s nowhere near their home.
Playing alone, you control both characters during combat and control just one when running around the map while the other follows you around. As mentioned above, Original Sin also features a co-op mode that lets you and a friend play through the overall storyline as the two main characters. A cooperative dialogue system allows you to make decisions in a conversation together. You each simply pick the option you want and if you agree, the conversation continues. If you happen to disagree, the game rolls a virtual dice to force the decision. There are no black or white decisions, every decision comes with a consequence – big or small – but there’s no wrong answer to give either.
Original Sin has one more feature that is just begging to be mentioned: the game will ship with a richly featured map editor with which you can create your own maps that can be shared online. If that won’t convince you that Original Sin is worth your interest and money, we don’t know what will.