by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
The name Kickstarter should ring a bell by now. It regularly comes into our crosshairs when a small development team seeks to fund the creation of games that the big publishers no longer seem to want to make. Belgian-based Larian Studios are due to release two entirely different Divinity-related titles; Divinity: Dragon Commander and Divinity: Original Sin and have decided to join the Kickstarter crowd for one of them. The gains are promised to be used to expand Original Sin’s team in an effort to make the game even more. How do they intend to do that? Simple, by sticking - way - more content into it. It may sound a little far-fetched, but in my eyes, it is a great alternative to sucking gamers dry by releasing seemingly endless DLC packages.
The Sin deal
Divinity: Original Sin is an isometric RPG without character classes that aims to give you complete freedom with regards to your character’s progression. At first glance, it looks a lot like your run-of-the-mill Action-RPG in an attractively bright fantasy setting. Proving that looks can be deceiving, Original Sin reveals its actual RPG-depth soon after the player enter its rich world.
One of the earliest signs of this depth is found in the interactions with the NPC-population: everything you do and say has consequences. If you, for example, get caught ‘borrowing’ something from an NPC’s home without permission, the rightful owner will likely call the guards when he finds out. During their “heart-to-heart” with you, you may be able to weasel your way out of having to pay a fine or do time in the local slammer. Yet if you get caught repeatedly, they won’t remain to be as… accommodating.
There’s also a clever elemental-based magic system that allows you to use objects such as barrels of water and summoned-up rainfall to increase the damage of you attacks. You see, wet targets are more susceptible to freezing and lightning attacks so during a thunderstorm you’d do well to make sure you stay comfy and dry.
The game is primarily designed as a single-player game. However, it is possible to play it co-operatively to add an interesting layer of interaction to various aspects of the game. For instance, conversations with NPCs are actual conversations between the NPC and both players. You can disagree with each other and then each player deals with his or her choice accordingly. You’re not forced to adventure together so if you decide you need a little time apart you can do so. Should you happen to stumble upon your partner later on, you can decide to join up again, even if he is in the middle of combat.
Stretching it a little
The “nutshell” above is just a take-out of what is already a pretty complete and fleshed out game. With the rise of Kickstarter, Larian realized they had a glorious opportunity to do even more than they had already planned. With the money raised, they intend to stuff even more - and more varied - content into the final game. If you are familiar with Kickstarter, you will know that featured projects often come with stretch-goals and it is these that make even more interesting. Stretch-goals are what justifies developers to not just quit upon reaching their initial target, allowing them to raise additional funds by adding additional features to the game. Original Sin’s’s stretch goals promise some really cool extras.