skeleton: "Hey look, it stands to reason. You can't eat 'cause you don't
have a stomach."
skeleton: "Aha! So how can we speak? We don't have no vocal cords either.
Answer that, Mr. Clever!"
skeleton: "You're right, you know. Think about it; we don't have no
muscles or flesh on our bones either, so what keeps us together, sort of
skeleton: "Best not to think about it. I don't want to fall to bits
because of extra existential thought..." (From the Divine Divinity
here with my head in my hands at the prospect of reviewing this game. What
can you say in the way of superlatives that don’t sound trite for a game
whose worst fault is its name? OK, I seize on that for a moment. Ugh, what
could they have been thinking when they named this game? Visions of sugary
sweet candy float before my eyes.
but further delving into the vast resources of the internet tell me that
the developers never intended for the game to be so named, and this was a
step taken by the producer. The name was meant to be Divinity: Sword of
Lies. I would prefer just Sword of Lies, but now I can't even fault the
developers on this basis.
know what the real problem with this game is? That when you come across a
fault, you disregard it, simply because the rest of the game is so good. A
misspelling in a dialog? Part of its charm! And charming is what this game
years in the making, with little fanfare this game hit the RPG world by
surprise. Amazing - a first published collaboration between a small group
of people from Belgium, England, Russia, and Germany; no big budget, no
advance hype - wait, there's still hardly any advertisement on this game -
and slowly but surely by word of mouth this game is coming up on all the
"Best RPGs of the year" lists. And get this, the people that made the game
have a forum, where they actually answer buyers' questions: technical
questions, hints, general comments- they show appreciation for everyone
that has bought this game. Unheard of ! Big companies of certain high
hyped glitzy games shook their heads in dismay. "What a dangerous
precedent to set. To actually act like we appreciate someone buying our
game, and to (shudder) even help them with how to play it? How incredibly
Divinity stands head and shoulders above the competition in sheer good
heartedness. And if any RPG stands a chance of bringing new fans to the
genre, this is the one. Never taking itself too seriously, the story draws
you into the game, and never lets you go. A gentle learning curve, an easy
inventory interface, a virtually seamless world to play in, and dozens of
quests and hundreds of choices in how to handle them. Dialogs are spiced
with humor; monsters have their own quirky personalities; there are
parodies of real life situations and historical events, all backed with a
musical score that could be a bestseller all by itself.
GAMEPLAY AND STORY: You have a choice of selecting warrior,
wizard or survivor, a sneaky sort, as your hero, and a choice of whether
to play as female or male. Nothing innovative with this, until you read
the clever comments each character gives you as an incentive to choose
them. The female survivor says " They say there are only two ways of
living for a poor girl on the streets: prostitution or starvation. I took
the third way. I steal from the rich and give it all to my poor self".
The female wizard advises "They call me a witch because I'm a woman,
and an enchantress because I'm pretty. Damn them! I deserve as much
respect as any male wizard! The land is sick, and in using magic to heal
it, I'll earn their admiration."
might be the first clue that you are in for something different with this
game, something special. There are many such references to everyday
situations sprinkled throughout the game, more on which I'll write
class has access to many skills you can learn, receiving points to apply
as you will each time you level up in experience, and you're not limited
to choosing skills from your own discipline. It may very well be difficult
to complete the game if you don't learn some skills from another class. As
a wizard, I quickly ascertained that I needed the alchemy skill from the
survivor class, so I didn't have to spend an awful lot of time going to
the shops to buy mana potions, and instead could scoop up plants that grew
all over the world.
skill you are currently set to use is displayed in the interface, along
with icons for inventory, and your diary. The diary contains your quest
log, a large detailed map that marks the locations for quests which you
have been told about by NPCs, and which you can also use to flag locations
yourself; the count and description of monsters you have defeated,
conversations you have had, and a detailed description of your character,
including your resistances to different elements.
have a near invulnerability to lightning - based attacks. You can wear a
copper helmet and stand in a vat of water on top of a church steeple
during a storm, shouting 'All Gods are b******s!' with impunity."
interface is simple, clear and completely user friendly. A very nice
move your character by either clicking on a spot away from where he is
standing, or clicking and holding to continue movement, and sort of
sweeping your way across the landscape. It took a bit of getting used to
doing this, moving through an area that is dark on your mini-map (which
you can toggle on and off), which clears as you uncover new territory.
However, movement is smooth, and I only encountered a couple of situations
where keyboard might have been more precise. Occasionally in the heat of
battle, I would attempt to click my weapon on an opponent, and click on
the ground instead, moving to that location. In general, I appreciated
being able to use the mouse for movement.
opening animation is more artsy than informative. Three fierce looking
wizards appear bent on destroying a spirit fetus that morphs into three
female goddess type spirits that streak to the sky. One darts to a fallen
warrior, and apparently invades his body. The warrior is then awakened by
a mysterious white cat.
play begins with you having no memory of who you are, and soon finding out
that you have been rescued by a community of healers, due to the diligence
of the cat, which led them to your unconscious body. But if your amnesia
wasn't enough to contend with, you quickly become apprised of the problems
plaguing the town.
troubles - you mean apart from the orc bandits infesting the woods, and
the fact that we've lost contact with the Source for healing? Our leader
seems to have gone as crazy as a loon".
find out before too long that you are one of the "chosen ones" and it is
up to you to defeat the evil that is threatening the world. Nothing
innovative about the theme, but the way it is approached makes it feel
like it is.
close attention to conversations will give you hints of quests to pursue,
courses of action to take, or information regarding items that may be
important in your future. There are several responses you can make in
conversations, and being rude and confrontational can easily lead to a
fight. Unlike some RPGs, there are consequences to your actions and to
your conversations, which can directly impact your reputation. Although
you can freely go inside people's houses and look through their
belongings, if you steal something while they're watching, they will at
the very least say bad things about you to their friends. This may make
fulfilling some quests difficult.
waded into my new world, I was impressed with how gradual the learning
curve was, and how as my confidence grew as my hero raised in level, and I
began to find more intimidating foes. Not that you can't stumble across a
problem over your head almost right away, so remembering to save
frequently is a given. Rather hilarious were the Orcs, short on brain and
long on brawn, they still were crafty when it came to a group effort
against you, and would even leave a path of gold coins to tempt you into
the woods, where they could surround you and chortle over the dumb human
that fell into their trap! Group dynamics are extremely interesting, for
your enemy is capable of strategic maneuvering, rather than just stepping
up to be slain.
first long quest to follow the main story line requires you to travel
through a huge dungeon filled with all sorts of monsters that plain don't
like you. But lest you think this is just another dungeon crawl, you
couldn't be more wrong. After the dungeon is completed, your world opens
up, and an enormous one it is too. There are hundreds of people to talk
to, dozens of quests to perform, and many, many monsters to battle. A
great feature is that you can pause your game during battle by hitting the
space bar, and replenish yourself with mana or strength potions, use your
teleporters, change your weapons, equipment or spells, pick a spot to run
to, or just give you a while to assess your situation. Another wonderful
feature of this game is that you can interact with almost any object you
come across. Moving boxes will sometimes uncover a secret passageway, and
vases hide treasures. There are chests filled with booty sprinkled over
the countryside, with keys to be found or the lock-picking skill to be
used. There are statues to be found or bought, which allow you to morph
into that animal. I never found that to be useful, but it was fun to hop
around as a frog or slink around as a cat for a while.
tombstone: "OSIRIS THE COOK - The mean @#%* took the recipe for his
famous bouillabaisse with him to the grave ".
developers of this game say you make of it what you wish of it. If you
want to play hack and slash style, follow the main quests only and
complete it as quickly as possible, you can do that. It will still
probably take you around 40 hours of game play. Or you can play as I did,
following every quest, and stopping along the way to admire the lovely
scenery, and you'll be engaged for between 100 and 200 hours. And you'd
best set your alarm clock, because you can become so involved in this
world that time flies by, until you see with a start that the hours have
flown by, when it seemed like you had only played scant minutes.
especially fascinated by the scenarios that parodied events that happen or
have happened in the real world. One quest requires you to side with the
bees or the wasps, and each side gives you their reasons why you should
side with them. The bees tell you that the area has always been their
home, and the wasps are unjustly trying to push them out. The wasps tell
you that they need to be somewhere, and they are stronger, and the bees
need to move and give them room. Sound familiar? You'll encounter racial
tensions, drug addiction, religious fanatics, romance, and even have the
opportunity to earn experience points by visiting a prostitute. Not
exactly your ordinary RPG.
only real criticism I have of this game is the last part in the drab
Wastelands. It is clear that the game should have stopped before this
point, as there is but one quest, and it is a hack and slash fest to get
to the end scenario. Then the end scenario is disappointing, but does seem
to leave the way clear for a sequel. Again, Larian studios steps up. On
their forum, a developer admitted they had made a mistake in doing this,
and that in retrospect they would have ended the game with the fabulous
cut scene of the transformation to the Divine One. Towards the end of the
development, they ran short of funds and had other problems, and simply
had to rush the last part. How often do you hear a developer admit they
made a mistake? Points go to them for honesty.
My first impression was retro, 2D in a style reminiscent of Quest for
Glory. In the days when RPGs are seeking to best each other in terms of
more extravagant 3D effects, it would appear a strange move by the
developers to not follow suit. However, the artwork is richly detailed,
and the fact that you can interact with almost everything in the game,
immerses you so entirely that you become part of that world. There are
also limited 3D effects, such as the sun rising at dawn, and other weather
effects including well crafted thunderstorms. There is a particularly
beautiful church, with light streaming through the stained glass windows.
My favorite was the exquisite treatment of water, where you see the
reflection of your character in ponds as he passes by. The developers have
acknowledged that perhaps making this as a 2D world was a mistake, for
they have received quite a dose of criticism for it, but they did this to
enable players with lower end computers to be able to play the game. How
can you not love them for it?
Moscow born and trained composer Kirill Pokrovsky brings heart and fire in
his music that speaks to the soul. The main theme is heartbreakingly
glorious, in a new age style that is so memorable that I often sat looking
at the main load screen, just to hear it over and over again. And as you
travel throughout the world, you are treated to other appropriate songs,
from a wonderful lusty, folksy tune in an inn to a brooding melody as you
wander the roads. The music changes as your character enters into
different areas or meets new situations, and serves to heighten the mood.
The ambient sounds are likewise immersive, especially the clang of swords
in battle. The voice acting is extremely well done, with plenty of
inflection and differences between the races and characters.
I did experience some freezing at one point, when my character had been
killed, and I couldn't go back to the load screen, and instead got to
watch the monsters that defeated me happily wandering around. Larian has
advised that a patch is coming out shortly to deal with this and other
problems that are sometimes encountered, such as items that should be in
a scene and aren't. This will be the second patch for the game. I can
easily forgive them this, as the world is massive, the content is
considerable, and I appreciate that they truly care to make the player's
experience as worry free as possible. The game has three discs, two for
installation and one for game play. Loading times are a bit lengthy, but
the wonderful music is playing, and so I didn't mind this.
The most talented Swen Vincke, project leader for Divine Divinity, told me
that he and his fellow developers are amazed at the good reception that
the game has received, as they feared it would be slaughtered. After
putting their hearts and souls into the game, they were profoundly
depressed once the game shipped, for there were so many things they would
have liked to have done with it that were impossible to do. As an amazing
and enthralling first effort, I for one can't wait to see their next
Overall, this game is nothing less than outstanding. 5 BAAGS out of 5.
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