To celebrate the release of the forthcoming Divinity II-Flames of Vengeance we are offering our first in a new series of ‘Retro Reviews’ Bringing to you the best games from days gone by.
To kick us off we have the gaming World’s award-winning RPG from 2002, the critically acclaimed smash hit Divine Divinity.
In the fantasy realm of Rivellon, a vile evil lurks in the shadows and threatens the land with the foul pestilence that it brings. Even attempting to bring about the assassination of ‘The Goddess,‘ this evil knows no bounds in its plans and will stop at nothing in its quest to blight the land. Only by the splitting of her souls to force confusion on the evil that spreads across the realm like a plague, did The Goddess manage to survive the callous attempt on her life, and it now falls to the fate of one man to bring peace and harmony to place of unspeakable evil, where death looms large like a ravenous beast, and danger watches from every shadow. It is in this Lone Warrior that the brilliant light of one half of The Goddess seeks sanctuary as the young hero is beset by demons, making him ‘The Chosen One.’ The one in which lies the Divine Power of The Goddess. The One who can save the World and banish the evil that rips the heart from the land. Will you answer the call? Will you rise as the phoenix from the ashes of despair to shine with the Divine Light of The Goddess to save the realm from certain doom? Destiny awaits those young warriors who dare to accept the challenge…
The storyline for Divine Divinity is the stuff of fantasy lovers all the World over and is a recipe that has been served up throughout any number of similar RPG titles before and since. However it is the unique characteristics of the title that give this game its stand out features that leave it standing head and shoulders taller than even some of the best modern RPG titles today. Using the tried and tested ‘point and click’ system that is typical of the genre at the time of release, Divine Divinity’s similarity to other RPG’s ends there. For the time, the non-linear gameplay was as fresh as it was groundbreaking and more than readily accepted by all who played this title first time around.
Being that there is no World map for the player with which to navigate around the land of Aleroth, you will find that the mouse and its ‘point and click’ system comes in very handy for exploration around the picturesque fantasy realm. At the onset of the game players are able to choose from one of three preset characters with which to take on the task of defeating the evil in Aleroth and thus saving the land from annihilation. Though the player may select the gender of the character, although this selection will not affect the nature of the gameplay, only such things as the characters primary starting attributes, that are of course fully upgradeable as the story progresses, and the obvious traits such as physical appearance and the manner of the characters voice.
The character classes are as follows:
Wizard : The Gandalf type of character, as opposed to the wicked Saruman, with greater mana but at a cost of having weaker physical presence making the ‘wand-botherer’ a little on the delicate and fragile side, however it has to be noted that once the character upgrades and learns to use his spellcraft with more efficiency they become quite the force to be reckoned with. A nice trick that the Wizard is able to accomplish is the ‘Location Swap’ whereby the character takes the place of the target and vice versa and causes much confusion in the ranks of the enemy.
Survivor : The streetwise ‘urchin’ of the bunch with one hand on his blade whilst the other is pilfering the wallet of a nearby citizen. The Survivor reigns supreme in the art of subterfuge and camouflage. He is also highly adept in sneaking, hiding, dodging, stealing and basic survival skills. Having “Sneak” as special ability, which allows the character to hide from enemies to avoid actual fisticuffs, is a talent that is far underrated in our book, he who turns and walks away comes back to fight another day.
Warrior : The outright fighter of the three. With extra health points and a punch like the kick of a mule, but lacking in magical talents that leave him vulnerable to arcane attacks by magical enemies. The Warrior is gifted with a “Swirl Attack” as special skill, when activated the character spins like a Dervish flailing out with his fists and weapons to assault any and all within reach. It is here that we pose the first question to our loyal viewers regarding the ‘Divinity Trilogy Competition.‘ What we want to know is this; On the Larian website pages there is a review score given by GameSpy. Write down the score and when you have all three answers from the next two reviews in the Divinity Trilogy send them to us at the email on the competitions page.
One thing is certain if anything about Divine Divinity and that is the actual World of Aleroth is enormous! Taking into account the size of the open world will be daunting for those gamers unused to such freedom in a title, especially due to the more linear nature of RPG’s even as more recent as Dragon Age:Origins, it is handy then that the developers included the very useful ‘teleportation’ system of travel for your character to venture in this vast fantasy kingdom. Interaction with your environment is, even by todays gaming standards, on an unprecedented level, as you can literally come into contact and interact with just about anything that you can see in the World of Aleroth. And with the first real glimmer of a successful morality consequence being incorporated into the game there is much more to Divine Divinity than would be imagined. This is not mindless hack’n’slash as you run from one meaningless battle to the next, only stopping off at the local merchants in between fights to pawn off the goods that you have plundered from the cold dead hands of your fallen adversary. Oh no! The gameplay in Divine Divinity shows far more complexity and depth that followers of the RPG genre will no doubt recognise from facets of a whole multitude of later, more recent tiles such as Fallout, Oblivion and Dragon Age:Origins.
So to arrive at the conclusion of this title is to cut short what could well have turned into a novel of details surrounding this first-rate title from Larian Studio’s. Even by today’s standard of video gaming, Divine Divinity still looks as fresh and exciting as it first did all those years back, even though nearly a decade has gone by since the launch of this award-winning title, that turned out to be a firm favourite with gamers from all around the World. The good news for whom was in the announcement that a sequel was already being planned. The subject of our second in the trilogy of reviews, Beyond Divinity.
Graphics: For the time they first saw the light of day the graphics for Divine Divinity were cutting edge and led the way for many a game to follow. Looking at the title through the eyes of a ‘Next Gen’ gamer, they may seem stodgy and rather staid, but when you think of the fact that this title is almost celebrating its Bar Mitzvah? Then we have to say that it’s still looking great! 8
Gameplay: Second to none. It’s as plain and simple as that. When you look at how titles used to be, and how proud the developers were to make huge titles that held the most content? It makes you wonder when it all changed into games that pride themselves on campaigns that can be beaten in under 10 hours. 9
RePlay Value: The sheer size and enormity of Divine Divinity means that you simply cannot see all that it has to offer in one, two or even three playthroughs of this truly epic saga. 9
Presentation: Hailing from a time when games prided themselves on being ‘user friendly’ and of having the biggest, best and most enthralling and engrossing gameplay will have you nostalgically holding your mouse in fond memory. A true colossus of its day and a giant amongst RPG titles. 9