Divinity Original Sin II: Definitive Edition (switch) - Review
Larians' critically acclaimed sequel finally (and surprisingly) hits the Nintendo Switch. How does this RPG fare on Nintendo's latest console?
The original Divinity Original Sin was a game I did not know I needed in my life. Looking at all of its reviews had me confused, as I was not familiar with the type of game it was and from watching reviews and gameplay videos, it did not seem like it would appeal to me. I did not understand why it was receiving 10 out of 10's from a number of different sites and why fans everywhere were singing its praises. Despite all of this, I purchased the original on the PlayStation 4 and subsequently played it for 7 days straight as I stayed home 'sick' from work (we've all done it, don't judge me!) I recently started playing this again on the PC and thought to myself "this game would be a perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch". I never believed Larian studios would actually do it, instead theorising that the first Divinity Original Sin was much more likely to be ported.
Divinity Original Sin II expands on the original in every way. Larian are one of the rare developers, who listen to their fan-base and develop what I call pure video games (No loot boxes, micro transactions or any other nonsense). The graphics are better, the game is bigger, the story is richer, the builds are much more complex and deep and the gamne now supports 4 players (without a mod). You can feel the love and passion that they put into Divinity Original Sin II, the graphics, world design and story leave little to be desired and in comparison to today's game market is a breath of fresh air. DOS2 is a game that presents you with the rules and then sets you free; you will have multiple 'Eureka' moments where you have an idea that is within the rules of the game, try to execute it and revel when you realise that it worked.
DOS2, at its core, is a turn-based, tactical sandbox, role-playing, adventure game. The game follows the player, a sourcerer, on their journey from a prisoner to a powerful entity. Along the way, the player is able to recruit NPC characters who have their own stories and personalities. The player may also choose to play the game as one of these characters or can create their own character from scratch. Whether the player chooses to use a pre-existing character or create their own, the build they choose is completely customisable. If I had to describe DOS2 in a word, the word would be flexible. Divinity allows the player an unprecedented amount of freedom and choice at its core. This became evident when discussing the game with my brother and a friend (all of which had played our own single player playthroughs). When we were exchanging stories of how we overcame certain quests or encounters, it was evident that their was never a single path or answer to solve anything. An early example of this is in the first Act, when you enter a fort and stumble on 2 humans harassing an elf. You can chose to not get involved, side with the elf or side with the humans and all of these choices, can then also have their own branching results; siding with the elf can result in the humans backing off or can result in a fight. This is a very early and basic example of the types of encounters and choices the player can make throughout the game and this level of freedom and choice is apparent throughout DOS2 entire game design.
As stated earlier, the combat is turn-based but not in the traditional sense like a JRPG. Instead think XCom (but not grid-based), players are given turns and can move and do actions based on the amount of AP (action points) they have at their disposal. The actions are called skills and they all have a set AP cost and a cool-down period. A turn is finished when every participant in a battle has used up all of their AP (or chosen to simply end their turn). The terrain also plays a part, in that if a combatant is higher than the another combatant when they attack them, their attacks will do more damage. Additionally, there are surfaces which affect the battlefield. A couple of examples are: If a fireball is thrown or an oil barrel comes in contact with fire, it will explode; if a puddle of water is hit with a lightning bolt, it will become electrified and will shock or even stun those who come into contact with it. This adds another layer of strategy, as enemies are weaker or more resistant to certain elemental effects. The game is also unique, in that, if a player has multiple members in their party, only those who are within range of the battle will be subject to the rules of combat. Outside of combat, players can move freely and can use any skills (which are still subject to a cool-down albeit defined by time instead of turns). If a character chooses to interact with an ongoing battle in any way, they automatically join the battle and are subject to the battle rules. this creates situations where players can strategically place characters and items before and even during battles in order to affect combat. It creates a paradox where you have a set of characters in the world waiting for turns to be taken, while another controlled character can be running around in town trading items and even getting into other fights. Combat is challenging but fair (on the higher difficulties at least).
Not to mention, the game is multiplayer. That's right, the game allows players to play together through the entire story. The game has been designed in such a way that it promotes co-operative play as much as competitive play. Players can do things such as dyeing green poison potions red, which makes them appear as health potions. This can then be handed to a 'friend' who in the heat of battle, may use the potion to save them, which will actually kill them as their character drinks poison. Or another, players can steal items in the game from NPC's and then place it into one anothers inventories. When an NPC or guard then searches the player characters for said items, they may then find them and send them to prison. These types of shenanigans make the game ridiculously entertaining. The Switch version also allows users to transfer their save games from the steam version of the game, which is a Godsend as this game is enormous.
The Switch version has its cons however. The game runs like butter ensuring a steady frame rate (so far) but it does not look great. Coming from the PC version to the switch version surprised me, DOS2 is a good looking game but due to its camera angles, I was not aware of how resource heavy the game actually was. The switch's graphics appear muddy and the resolution leaves much to be desired. I, personally, am grateful that the developers of the port focused on frame-rate and performance, instead of graphical fidelity as performance is King but it is noticeable none the less. If you have a PC and a switch and are looking to purchase Divinity Original Sin II, you should without a doubt get it on the switch. the PC version is superior in every way, but being able to play a game of this size which is this time consuming on the go is a marvel. Overall Divinity Original Sin 2 is a brilliant game, which in my opinion is under-rated. I understand the type of game it is will only appeal to a certain type of gamer, but I still believe a large number of gamers will fall in love with this game if they ever gave it a chance. Its as simple as this: If you have a switch and you like RPG's go and buy this game now!