November 22, 2012

Anything But Divine

Lasting First Impressions of Divinity Anthology

Developed by Larian Studios

Divinity Anthology Header» Although the Divinity games have been reviewed countless times, I figured I would try the anthology for an hour per game and see if it was worth spending more time exploring this universe. Having never played Divine Divinity, I went in with a curiosity on how the game has aged since its release in 2002. I wasn’t surprised to find that the main menu was very simplistic in its design much like most games of this era. I was, however, intrigued about the lack of an intro cinematic to pump me up for my adventure. When beginning a new game you have a choice of 6 different characters, each with their own fantastic getups and a recorded little blurb about their personality and class. I thought I would share one with you because of the cheese factor that comes with old voice over talent that’s not solely limited to this title. (Incase you were wondering, I picked the Barbarian female because she sounded like a total badass).

The game begins when you wake up in a basement and quickly make your way up the ladder where you find out that you were saved by a healer. He then goes on to tell you about the woes of the town and your RPG adventure begins. The game immediately shares design concepts with the 1996 classic: Diablo. I can even compare the music elements and it is so familiar to me that, if I close my eyes, I’d swear I was in the world of Diablo. The odd thing I noticed right off the bat was the ability to move objects around anywhere I wanted. I immediately found this very frustrating when I wanted to open a chest but wound up moving it instead. The game developers also decided to make use of fog of war, which I dread because my OCD tendencies make me want to explore the entire blacked out parts of the map.

Divinity screen 1

Overall this is a tough game to continue to play when I’m just coming into it as a newbie of 2012. Perhaps being spoiled by quest markers has something to do with it… and the nostalgia that Diablo creates for me is reserved only for Diablo.

I then continued on in the anthology to Beyond Divinity. I have to admit it is tough playing such dated games. Although I frequently went back to Diablo 2 and Sacred in the past, the Divinity series didn’t have as much of a hold of me and thus are proving to be difficult to review with an open mind. The game opens with a cinematic that, for 2004, must have been very impressive. The voice-over artists continue to be extremely cheesy in their delivery but I can now see that as being a quirk that is iconic to the series. Much like Divine Divinity, I was impressed to find that every line of dialogue was recorded and I didn’t have to sit there and read the tiny font on my computer screen. This is impressive to me because even games nowadays always run out of time during post sound and can’t incorporate all written script as recorded dialogue. I really give Larian Studios a lot of respect for this.

Divinity Screen 2

After creating my female barbarian, I noticed I was also asked to pick the skills for a character called the “Death-Knight”. Once into the actual game I interacted with him and together we were supposed to escape the prison. I moved around with my character and noticed he wasn’t following me at all. I quickly realized that the game is meant to be played by controlling two characters at the same time. This was a little odd to say the least. Although there is a button at the top right that selects both characters, I found it difficult to focus on both of them constantly. It was clumsy and would have been more intuitive if the second character was computer controlled and switchable depending on the situation. In terms of design, the game is identical to Divine Divinity and I felt that it was a good continuation for fans of the series but not something that I could get into without spending a lot of time playing the first game through.

I carried on my way and arrived at the newest game of the series; Divinity 2 – Ego Draconis. I remember playing this game when it first came out for the Xbox 360. I purchased it with some trade-ins after I played the demo and enjoyed it. I then ended up getting bored and traded it in only to buy it again when Atlas re-released it. I have a long history with this title but in the end I just couldn’t get into it. There are not many compliments I can throw around about the character customization; there are a few face options and hairstyles in different colours. This bothered me a lot because this game was released following Demon’s Souls, which walked in Oblivion’s footsteps when it came to detailed face and body customization. I couldn’t even change the body type of my female warrior and was stuck with this large breasted unbalanced looking character. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure the boys don’t mind this.

Divinity Screen 3Following that, I began my journey to becoming the ultimate dragon slayer. The introductory level was quaint and after realizing that the graphics were on low, I set everything to max and I was surprised to see the improvement was pretty drastic. This game was very Fable-esque in its colour palette and design, but I felt like it was trying to be too serious. The characters were pretty flat and following the tutorial it ended up being a generic RPG. I can’t say I was very intrigued about the story either. For me this made the quests dull and repetitive. Perhaps this was due to the dated originals that I never really got into during their prime years, but I would have to say that after trying out all of these games I didn’t feel like I wanted pursue the adventure from top to bottom. Not to say that they were not impressive titles in their days but…

Larian Studios, I gave you three hours and I am NOT IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Diana is an Apple Administrator and a Post Sound Assistant at a major Canadian television company whose love of gaming first began with such classics as Doom, Duke Nukem and the King's Quest Series. A previous job at EB Games has caused her collection of both console and PC games to grow to epic proportions. Her preferred genre is Sci-fi and her favourite titles are Mass Effect, Deus Ex and Dead Space. In any video game, however, what really matters to Diana, is a good story. Diana can be found on Xbox Live and on PSN as Limesplash.




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