Note: Jonas and I are playing this game together, even though it’s a single-player game. You can read his review here.
Besides reading a lot and going to the movies a lot I also play computer games… a lot. Only recently there has been an appalling drought in the genre of first or third person RPGs. The good kind. Not the kind from Japan, with half-naked twelve year old girls called Simon as protagonists.
So, along comes Divinty II: Ego Draconis. In terms of graphics it looks a lot like Gothic 3, which made me nervous at first, because Gothic 3 was an appalling pile of moose dung. (I shall pretend to be a software-geek for a moment and say that Divinity II is actually done in the same engine as Oblivion and Fallout 3, but fails to look as good as either. Not that it looks bad, mind you.)
Now, after playing the game for about fifteen hours twenty hours way too long (considering we only bought it on Thursday), I have to say: Fear not, it be great fun.
The world is big and open, although you quickly notice when you’ve strayed too far for your current level. (I mean that as a compliment, Oblivion has taught me to fear games with leveling enemies. If I never see a level 40 Xivilai again I’ll die a happy woman.) The fighting system is simple, too simple, I might even say, as there is little variation to the attacks that you can choose from, especially at the beginning. The story is adequate, although nowhere near as good as, say, Gothic 1 and 2. And best of all: You can turn into a dragon. Not at first, and I have to admit that I haven’t gotten there yet, but hey, you can turn into a bloody dragon. So shut up and don’t complain.
Advancing your character stays hard throughout the game and especially at the beginning you’ll curse the absence of “good” weaponry. When you level the game isn’t too generous on the attribute and skill points, so I’d suggest to choose wisely what you raise and what not. If you think this is a bad thing you might do well to reconsider buying the game. Personally I think it is wonderful. There is nothing more refreshing as five minutes of agonized indecision as to where to put your next skill point. (I AM trying to be as un-sarcastic as possible here, I mean it.) Also it really makes you appreciate your first level 20 goblin chief and the 1000 xp that he brings along as a present.
The music is really awesome. Not awesome as in I need to listen to this even when I’m not currently playing, but awesome as in I frequently catch myself whistling the tavern theme when I’m preparing dinner. Which is a coincidence, actually, but these days I do little but play, cook and sleep, so the chances were pretty good.
The writing deserves praise as well. (For those of you that are wondering: we are playing the German version of the game, seeing that the English one only comes out in September.) Anyroad. I find that it takes a bit to make me laugh when it comes to computer games and this one has managed to do so on several occasions. So, yay for the writing. If I had to change anything I’d remove most of the meta-humour, since it tends to damage the immersion in the same way that a glowing-hot needle damages a soap bubble. But luckily the really gross examples of such “wit” are few and far inbetween.
Despite all my criticism Divinity II is deeply enjoyable. Not one of the greats, but a lot better than anything that has come along in recent years. For people who enjoy a good RPG with a plot that is a little more substantial than candy floss, witty dialogue and a nice big world to strech one’s avatar’s leg in I would definitely recommed this game. So go forth and kill some goblins and don’t miss out on making a creature from decayed body parts, that’s the best bit.
Edit: Here are my slightly more negative thoughts upon having finished the game. It’s still got many excellent parts, but…