Divinity: Original Sin
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Divinity: Original Sin is a downloadable fantasy role-playing game presented from an isometric (raised, three-quarter) perspective. Combat is viewed from a distance but can still be pretty intense. Warriors hack at each other with medieval weapons, red blood gushing with each strike. Online cooperative play means teens may end up joining a game with a stranger and communicating via text chat without moderation or any other players present. Players have control over how the two main characters interact both with each other and with non-player characters in the world. They might choose to play them as noble, selfless warriors intent on helping anyone in need or as greedy, self-centered pseudo-criminals who steal and can't get along even with each other.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- making new creations
- producing new content
- digital creation
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
Divinity: Original Sin is beautiful to behold and smartly designed. It's also incredibly deep and packs lots of choices for players to ponder, but its complexity may prove overwhelming for players unwilling to invest long enough to learn the ropes.
Teens will learn about game design by experimenting with the tool kit that ships with the game. They'll get to build and make alterations to virtual environments, characters, and game objectives, test them by jumping into the world, and then hop out and make more changes.
Developer-made tutorial videos do a good job of explaining specific elements of the game-design toolkit. Larian also hosts active community forums on its website, where users can exchange ideas and answer one another's questions.
What's it about?
The result of a wildly successful crowd-funding campaign, DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN is the latest game in Larian Studios' 12-year-old fantasy RPG series. It tells the tale of a pair of Source hunters, people who are tasked with eliminating the abusers of the worst magic in the world. Both hunters are under the player's control as they embark on adventures that involve everything from a murder in a local town to a potentially world-ending threat that takes them outside of space/time. Players will spend much of their time engaged in dialogue, choosing from as many as a dozen potential conversation paths for each character they encounter. Depending on the situation, the choices players make can have a lasting impact on the game, which could include the death of certain characters or additional warriors opting to join the player's party. Outside of dialogue scenarios, players explore a lush world in pursuit of their objectives, frequently engaging in challenging turn-based magical, melee, and ranged combat. Traditional fantasy RPG mechanics including item and weapon looting, crafting and blacksmithing, and character development feature prominently throughout. Bundled with the game is Larian's Divinity Engine, a game-design tool kit that allows players to create mods, levels, characters, and potentially even new stories to share with other members of the community.
Is it any good?
Divinity: Original Sin is highly ambitious; it's the sort of rich, complicated RPG that usually requires resources beyond those of an independent developer. It's bursting with cool and original ideas, not least of which are its two equally important protagonists. They get in arguments with each other, allowing players to explore different sides of difficult issues. For example, should they show mercy to a seemingly docile -- but potentially very dangerous -- female orc? The turn-based combat (another interesting twist on the traditional isometric action RPG formula) is complicated and challenging, forcing players to take stock of dynamic factors -- such as distance to targets, whether they're standing on oil or ice, and which enemies pose the greatest immediate threat -- while making careful use of a limited supply of action points required to move and attack. It's the sort of strategic and rewarding combat that takes hours to learn and more to master.
But in its bid to create such an expansive and feature-rich experience, Larian seems to have bitten off a bit more than its limited team could chew in a few spots. Non-player characters often repeat snippets of conversation already spoken by others. Combat lacks adequate explanation at the start and may end up being too complex for more casual players. Plus, the game is a bit unstable. We encountered sporadic crashes playing on a powerful iMac, including a save file that, frustratingly, crashed every time we loaded it and a persistent inability to connect with other players online for cooperative play (a kink we expect/hope will be worked out in short order). Get beyond these frustrating hiccups, though, and you'll find a deep fantasy RPG with terrific action and an engaging tale.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games such as Divinity: Original Sin. Does your family talk about violent acts they see in movies and games? How does witnessing fictional acts of violence make you feel?
Talk about online safety. Many games allow players to encounter strangers and freely communicate with them. What sorts of online behavior and actions would strike you as suspicious? Why?