On Larian's "Divinity Original Sin"
After 90+ hours we finally crossed the finish line of Divinity Original Sin! It was a wonderfully fun experience and I cannot wait to startup Divinity Original Sin 2. So why was it so good?
We helped a cat get married (Although his soon to be wife is only loves him for his diamond studded collar...), brought two sisters together (into one body... that didn't turn out too good for either), told a skeleton that his soul was in his body, not just his skull (turns out its in your skull and he became a completely different person when he put that other head on...), didn't realize there was a whole subplot involving someones missing voice and we accidentally threw it away when we found it. OH! And we stopped the void from destroying all of eternity. Actually looking back, if we didn't stop the void, we kind of made things worse for everyone.
Besides the story and quests being so lovable and memorable, the main draw to playing was the couch co-op experience on PS4. There just aren't games that deep that you can play in your PJs together. Usually it's indie-style short action adventure or puzzle games, Divinity offered us something much more engaging.
Larian Studios brought such a fresh experience to a co-op game and solved what is usually a large problem for story games and multiplayer in a very smart way. You create two characters at the start, and both can provide input into the conversations (for major ones). They can also talk together separately, disagree, have arguments that even end in little rock paper scissors mini-games, and at the end of it all you get conversation bonus's based off your choices (+1 pragmatic) that have gameplay benefits. The depth of all the systems working together is wonderful, but I digress.
A lot of the fun we had playing together was roleplaying our characters in conversations, and in person asking each other "so how do you want to answer this?" "I don't know, you say what you want and i'll do the same" and seeing what chaos happened! So, Larian solved the story experience when playing together, but what about mechanically, when you're just exploring? It too is seamless. If one person wants to explore a forest and the other needs to go to town to do some crafting? No problem, just walk away from each other, the camera splits the screen and you can each go off and do whatever you want, it's so seamless and really makes it feel like you're each playing the game instead of one of you the "main" player and the other just following along.
Something we really found ourselves enjoying was how light hearted the quests and general world was even while having the "stakes" of the main plot pretty serious. It feels like Larian never said NO to a fun idea "what if we had two cats fall in love and you have to help them get married?" "sure, but only if you pickup a special perk that lets you talk to animals." Any other game wouldn't let you do the first part, let alone make a whole gameplay system around it. (We highly recommend picking up that perk early by the way).
The main story was a fun adventure of time, eternity, gods, the void, where you are the only people who can save the universe, typical stuff, but what made it really great were the characters you met along the way. To me, if you make great characters i'll follow them through any dumb plot, but I wouldn't follow characters I hate through even the greatest plot in the world.
Something we had to learn early on with the gameplay (it was actually the biggest hurdle getting into the game) is that A) it's slow, and B) they don't explain anything. But once you acclimate and understand that you can LITERALLY DO ANYTHING to solve the combats, or puzzles, the game really opens up. How do we cross this bridge? Why not throw one of your teleportation cubes over? Or solve the quest so that the goblins will rebuild it? Why not just teleport one of your companions over and have them release the drawbridge? The possibilities are endless!
Combat works the exact same way. Why not teleport an exploding barrel into the middle of the bad guys and have your archer shoot it? Having a hard time crowd controlling this group? Why not make it rain (no, not with money) and then cast your ice spells to freeze them. Throw a poison grenade at them, oh their immune to poison? Well, light it on fire once it lands and watch the fireworks! Again the possibilities are endless.
Crafting is another system that is incredibly deep. All i'll say about it is Sam spent whole days making us potions, food, and grenades and I didn't want anything to do with it. If you're into capital "C" crafting, this the game for you. Here's an example: First, take some wheat, break it down in a mortar and pestle, take that and add water, add that to and oven, you have bread now. Take a tomato and add it to the the bread, you have a pizza crust with tomato sauce now, why not add some meat to it, and bake it one more time in the oven? Well you have Dwarven Meat Supreme Pizza. (It gives you HP when eaten in combat.)
Here's the thing, just pick it up if you like fantasy and RPGs. It's a wonderful experience if a little difficult at times. Where else can you travel to an opposite universe where everything is backwards, find a talking King Crab, steal a Tekcub (bucket) from him that you can wear as a helmet and because it's reversed gives you a bonus to sight and hearing instead of hurting it, and wear it to fight a dragon from the Void to save the souls of the entire universe, oh, while those sisters that you turned into one person fight each other and are sometimes on your team and sometimes not... in the middle of combat...