As a lifelong rpg fan and lover all things story based imagine my excitement when I heard the buzz from everyone about a new crpg that was already being talked about as one of the all time greats. Nothing but glowing praise for this game. From combat to graphics to characters and story it was unrivaled. I heard it compared to and even called better than games like Baldur’s Gate 2 and Planescape Torment. What game is this? Well if the image at the top didn’t clue you in it is Divinity Original Sin 2. With all the praise I was pumped. So I snagged a copy and sat down to play. And after several hours I could only think of one thing to say to everyone praising this game.
Fuck every last one of you.
One of the best rpgs of all time? Not even fucking close. This is one of the worst rpgs I have ever played. Literally the only element of the game that I will give any credit to are the graphics. At max level – if you have a computer that can run that since it’s requirements are stupid fucking high – it is pretty for an rpg. Unfortunately graphics are the least important element of an rpg. Everything else is shit. But with so much ground to cover I am going to have to measure out my hatred. So this post will cover all of Act 1 with each succeeding act being covered in it’s own post as I go through and do literally every quest so that no one can say that I skipped anything or didn’t get the full experience. I am also playing the game on the hardest difficulty. Why? In the vain hope that the game might actually challenge me at some point because it certainly isn’t going to do it with the story.
Let’s start with some basic observations that will carry us through the game. There are 6 “Origin” characters. These are the only characters you can play that have a real backstory beyond vague comments. Their stories range from stereotypical (retired assassin called out for one last job) to stereotypical (antisocial revenge driven former slave with anger issues who is edgy as a fucking razor blade factory) to stereotypical (pirate who used to be a good guy before becoming a colossal fuck up) to stereotypical (possessed person seeking freedom from being possessed) to stereotypical (banished prince seeking to regain his throne) to stereotypical (last of his kind searches for answers). Shivers. So many wonderful options. But don’t worry if you don’t want to be any of them you can make a character from one of four races that comes in both living and undead flavors! Sure they won’t have a backstory of any kind and they will also get royally fucked in the ass in the special abilities department (all the Origin characters get unique and powerful Source abilities. Made characters can restore magic and physical armor in a dome… you get spells that can do that.) but at least you won’t have a stereotypical and shitty personal story!
Fuck me fucking sideways.
Next everyone will praise how many classes there are. 14 classes! None of which have any unique ability! Literally you can customize them. All they are are premade skill, attribute, and ability choices. There is no reason for the class system to even exist. It should just let you spend the points however you want to and not bother with the bs pretend classes. It is a waste of time. Especially when the classes don’t fucking matter. They do not provide unique story, dialogue, or mechanical options. At all. Complete waste of fucking time. Most of the abilities suck so you end up with only a few truly effective builds.
Want to break the game? Make an Undead Elf. Why this? Because Undead are healed by poison damage for some reason too stupid to possibly be comprehended and elves can eat flesh to absorb memories. (Undead can also use their bony fingers as lockpicks. Why? Because the people making this game know fuck all about how locks work.) Do this, give them at least one poison skill, pick up one level of polymorph for the extra attribute points and the best invisibility talent in the game with Chameleon Skin, and take the Lone Wolf talent. SO to begin with you have high stats, a lot of health, can turn an entire area into a poisonous morass, turn invisible more or less at will, and because you’re undead you can play dead and effectively leave combat. Pick up Fane (that would be stereotype Origin number 6) because he’s undead and he gets the most broken Source ability in Time Warp which gives someone an extra turn after their current one ends. Give him poison, polymorph, and Lone Wolf. You now have a party that is stealthier than anything else in the game, can melt almost anything in no time flat while healing each other, and can leave combat whenever they fucking feel like it because when you play dead you can use the Waypoints and bounce around the map. So now you have an unstoppable party without having to deal with 4 separate bullshit backstories that will repeatedly intrude on the game like a roommate with boundary issues.
Seriously the backstories for any character other than the main character play out either in private conversations you don’t get to read or hear, them trying to murder random npcs, or random npcs trying to murder you. That’s it. Oh the variety and richness of it all.
Alright time to cover the one thing that every person who has joined the Church of DOS2 will tell you is so fucking amazeballs that it feels like God himself blesses for every minute you spend with it. The gameplay. Technically it does what they say it does. You can take all sorts of different paths to get to where you are going. Stealth, talking, teleporting and using waypoints as a short cut for the rest of your party to skip mass sections of the game because the developers were too lazy to factor in how these things worked together, or fighting. However everything other than the last 2 options are horribly inefficient. Sure you can spend 30 minutes talking your way through a series of conversations to convince this one bad guy to let you pass or you can kill him in 45 seconds with no difficulty, drawbacks, or worse outcome of any kind. Which do you do? So you have a choice but it is not a choice about how you want to play. It’s a choice about how much longer and harder do you want the game to be. That’s it. Their endless choices are an artificial difficulty spike and game lengthener.
They may also say that the game is hard and so tactical. The people who believe this have only apparently played games that do not mind lowering their difficulty to include people with severe brain damage. All you need to know is that environmental effects can be affected by magic. You can freeze water or turn water to steam with fire and so on. None of it is important. Throw poison at anything living. Throw fire at anything dead. And keep in mind that fire makes poison explode. Why? Fucked if I know! This game doesn’t use logic that anyone not on shrooms can follow. Also early in the game – less than 10 minutes in – you get the gamebreaking gloves of teleportation. Nothing in the game can resist the teleports. Nothing. Chuck bosses at one another. Drop fire creatures in a pond. Plop living creatures in the middle of a puddle of poison before setting the whole thing on fire and watch them suffer burn and poison every turn before anticlimactically crumbling – just like the story’s narrative stakes!
Now that I have covered that let’s get to the story!
The Prologue or All Aboard the SS Deus Ex Machina!
The game starts with a decent looking animation concerning a character that you know nothing about but is meant to be mysterious as this mysterious woman kills a bunch of yokels so that she could be captured along with all of the other Sourcerers (the pun of this fucking term is fucking painful) to get at the Godwoken. Take a fucking guess who that is. If you said anything other than your character or the Origin characters you would be amazed by games of “Got your nose”.
Also the whole thing is stupidly melodramatic and pointless. The Divine Order (because who gives a fuck about good names?) is capturing every Sourcerer for everyone’s protection. All she literally had to do to get collared and put on the ship with you is walk up to the magisters and tell them that she is a Sourcerer. That’s it.
Then you wake up in the hold. Despite the starting cinematic clearly showing the characters being conscious and walking aboard you have apparently been drugged and kidnapped with no memory of how you got there. Of fucking course not. This is simply trite and stereotypical for the living characters but it is a truly staggering level of fucking idiocy for the undead characters. See undead in this setting are killed on sight. Kind of like a black person in a traffic stop. They are also immune to poison. So how were they drugged and manhandled into the hold of this ship without anyone discovering what they are?
You are immediately confronted with a murder and you might get your hopes up that there will be some kind of cool murder mystery to start the game off with. This is a red herring. It will get solved by no action of your own in about 6 seconds. Then you get to wander around the main hold of the ship and talk to your fellow prisoners. This is all you need to know. Lohse will be mildly entertaining. The Red Prince who should be some kind of badass because he is a warrior prince that was banished for dealing with demons is a snooty ponce. Beast is fucking mind numbing to talk to. Fane is condescending even while being incredibly stupid. Sebille will be wildly out of character for how she is portrayed for the rest of the game. Ibn will be stereotypically gruff.
Back to Grandma Evil from the opening cinematic! She’s the killer! How do you find this out? By walking in when the magisters are confronting her. Why let the player hunt down a murderer? That might be fun to roleplay. She drops more mysterious comments about wanting you dead, breaks her shackles, knocks everyone out including you, and just leaves you there. You were down and helpless – and she who had just stated that she was there to kill you leaves you there.
Remember that people praise the writing in this game.
Well she summons a big fucking Kraken thing that attacks the ship. You get to run around the hold for a bit looting it. The only things of value are the two deathfog barrels in the hold. You’re not supposed to be able to get them as it is scripted that a few seconds after you enter that room tentacles burst in through the walls like their is a schoolgirl convention inside and break the barrels but… it’s not hard to grab both barrels before it does it. Why is this important? Because deathfog is instant death for any living creature. Anything. Remember this. It’s going to be important later.
Finally get to the deck where the kraken is attacking. Finally time for some action! Do you get to fight the kraken? Nope! Have two demonic pillbugs that couldn’t threaten a roofied coed. That’s exciting, right?
Now you have to escape the boat. You can just jump in the lifeboat and leave or go back and get the people (ie stereotypes 1-6) up but it doesn’t matter because exactly the same thing happens either way. No matter which way you choose the kraken snaps the ship like a KitKat (cool), followed by you sinking into the water staring up at the wreckage floating down (cool), and then a light and a voice from the heavens saves you in the most blatant and literal use of a Deus Ex Machina I have ever fucking seen in a fucking game! What kind of fucking hacks wrote this garbage?!
Act I – The Home for Pointless Quests
I am not going to go as in depth here as I did for the prologue. I did that just to drive home how piss poor the writing is. The writing here is just as bad but if I hit every moment of it this review would be ridiculously long and it’s already pretty fucking long. Let’s get the bullet points a goin’!
- Wake on the very island you were headed to. That’s convenient. God must have put you there.
- Nope. Literally everyone else from the boat is there too. Including more demonic pillbugs! Yay! Get fucking used to them because they aren’t done yet.
- Big pretty opening area… that serves only to look pretty while you walk around and gather a couple party members. The only one you need is Fane. He’s annoying but useful. The Red Prince can die in a fucking fire.
- Oh look! The Fort Joy Ghettos! That sounds amazing and fun – right, boys and girls?
- Oh no… it’s a ghetto. Go do some of the most mind numbing quests this side of EVE! Marvel at proving an elf didn’t steal oranges! Take super powerful magical items from a crocodile because a lunatic asks you to! Help a woman discover the fate of her child by walking 10 feet and talking to the man next to her – and then walking back to her! Be proclaimed the messiah for winning a bum fight in the oddly massive arena under the kitchen! Watch as various Origin characters randomly try to murder people!
- You can finish everything in the ghetto in about 20 minutes. None of it is good. None of it is even vaguely compelling. But now you can use one of about 3000 methods of escaping the prison (because no prison plans for this sort of thing) and get to the Hollow Marshes.
- What can you do in the Hollow Marshes? Put out cursed fire on a group of pigs! Fight hordes of demonic pillbugs in the most exciting fantasy simulation of a day in the life of the Orkin Man! Encounter a disproportionate number of ruins, weapon vaults, and npcs related to the ancient evil Sourcerer (I die a little inside every time I type that) Bracchus Rex (because Evil McEvilton had too much dignity) in an increasingly ham fisted attempt at foreshadowing that progresses well past that into the realms of seven or even eightshadowning! You can also go murder Grandma Evil. It’s not even hard!
- Oh and you get to be told for time number 73 at this point that you are a Godwoken. You’d think that this might be something you have to look into like any well written game would have you do but no. You talk to a god and they explain that the entire plot of the game is for you to become a new god to stop the demonic pillbugs. Mystery and ambiguity… who the fuck needs that shit?
- What’s the point of this whole area? Escaping the island of course! Do you do something sensible like build a raft? No, you silly person whose brain has not been ravaged by syphilis! You have to fight all the members of a religious order including their leader to distract them while other people steal the boat. To do so you have to break into a place defending by the tortured corpses of Sourcerers (so fucking edgy) that instakill anything that comes near them. You might ask how the magisters move through them safely. The answer is a resounding fuck you!
- Remember what I said about those deathfog barrels earlier? If you have those this boss fight becomes even easier than it already is. It’s a bunch of religious guys and a giant worm thing. Turn invisble, go past all of them to the highest place, break open the barrel of deathfog, stand in the middle of it, let them fight the worm, and every few turns teleport someone into the death fog. It takes about 2 minutes on the hardest difficulty.
And there you go! Act I is complete. All without anything resembling good writing, difficulty, or world building. And I hear people say that they spent 40 hours here and to them I ask – What the fuck were you doing?! There is only about 3 hours of content here! 5 if you want to murder everything on the island and defile its corpse! But 40?! There’s nothing else to do!
Fuck this fucking game.