That's right! I do play games that have actually came out this year on disks! Ok, to be fair, this game's original version, Divinity II: Ego Draconis came out in late 2009/early 2010 to generally middling reception. But technicalities smecnicalities! Not since Alpha Protocol have I really wrote a blog that is singularly about a game that is actually modern in most contexts. However, since I'm going off to college fairly soon and am not entirely sure if I will finish this game by then (not being allowed to bring my xbox with me, which is probably a good thing for my prospective study habits. Ah well. That's what computers are for, right?) I figured I might as well write my impressions so far, from the dozen or so hours that I have messed with The Dragon Knight Saga so far.
For those out of the know, Divinity II is the third game in the series, being a sequel to 2004's Beyond Divinity, but that game apparently sucked, so that title is ignored as far as numbering is concerned, making it a sequel to 2002's Divine Divinity. Now, while I never finished Divine Divinity, my general impression of it was that it was a fairly breezy open world type Diablo clone with a good soundtrack and an occasionally infuriating difficulty level. In contrast, Divinity II: The Dragon Knight saga is a fairly breezy not-especially-open-world type action RPG with an alright soundtrack and an occasionally infuriating difficulty level. It's an interesting game, not only because Belgium-based Larian Studios is clearly trying to make an "epic" story-focused RPG like the days of yore, but also because it's pretty indicative of where the genre is right now once you get outside the human-friendly Bioware and Bethesda bubble. That is to say, quite frankly, that Divinity II is a game meant for a certain group of people. I'm not entirely sure who that group is comprised of, nor am I entirely sure if I'm part of that group, for as much hulabaloo as I talk in regards to older CRPGs, mostly because I'm still at the point where I can't decide if I enjoy it genuinely or ironically. It's a game with a laundry list of problems and quirks, a story that is clearly going for the gravitas despite being the true definition of cliched, and your usual flock of miscellaneous interface and control issues found in these sorts of games. It's also kind of fun and cost me less than $30 (as opposed to the $30 I just spent on the Master Quest bonus disk, blog coming soon?) for what that's worth. From what I've played so far, I can tell you that that is probably an acceptable price, mostly due to the fact that my expectations weren't especially high to begin with.
As far as story is concerned, Divinity II dumps your character as a new dragon slayer recruit in the generic fantasy world of Rivellion. Needless to say, after an initial opening segment, you ironically become the thing you're fighting while also becoming the salvation of mankind against the threat of some dude who I imagine is meant to be menacing, but is kind of just comical with how over the top evil pathos he is. Details in this case are rather pointless, and somewhat tiring since the story itself seems to be on its way to a conclusion I can already parse out. The writing is simialrly... fantasy-esque, as if drawn from the same blandly generic pool that makes up the entireity of what I could stomach of The Sword of Truth series of novels (though, by comparison to those, Divinity II is an artful masterpiece of writing artistry). It also makes the mistake of attempting to be funny on occasion, especially in regards to some of the responses your character can give. I dunno. Maybe a dude who's soul-bound to a chicken is hilarious if you're French. To be a little more clear on this: I don't find any of this game's writing or story offensively bad or anything. Inoffensively bland is probably a pretty good descriptor, in that it's at least competent enough to make me understand where they're coming from, even if none of it is especially compelling.
Being that this is also a RPG, there are quests to solve. Generally speaking, there will be dialog to navigate, minds to read (which I imagine to be this game's persuasion type mechanic. Actually, all you do is press x, give up some experience and gain knowledge of some extra goodie with very little drawback, since that XP can be easily replaced by killing things) and dudes to kill. As far as the dude killing is concerned, just rushing up to someone and mashing the attack button seems like a good way to die. Thus, what I've ended up doing usually involves long range spell spam, maybe a buff or two, then rushing up to someone and mashing the attack button. For as generally janky as the combat in Divinity II feels, it's the good sort of janky because at least you know there is some element of skill in addition to the dice rolls. And of course, after beating dudes you get experience and level up. The RPG elements in Divinity II feel a little flat to me, despite being as in-depth as you could reasonably expect from such a game. I'm cool with the generally open nature of the stat and skill systems, but I guess my main problem with all of the skills is that any or all improvements to them are shown in percentages and numerals, rather than effects or general coolness. That also is probably because there isn't any sort of truly "cool" ability to be found in the game. The active skills in The Dragon Knight Saga all feel ripped from the low-level skill trees of any given MMO class. There is no "ultimate" high level skill to pursue. Instead, you can make your other skills 5% more effective...? And, as the game's title suggests, you can also be a dragon, which is sadly a little more "meh" than it should be. I've just gotten to that part though, so maybe dragons are secretly awesome.
But whatever. I've already written too much, and while I doubt this will be especially highly commented on, I'd at least like to tell you that this game is almost RPG comfort food for me. It's maybe not the most well-made thing in the world, but it's filling all the same. There's a whole battle tower of servants I can go a-questing for, and despite being a bit of a negative nancy, I can't really complain because I'm still enjoying it. I'm going to play more Divinity II, not just because there's not a chance in hell that I will salvage that Fallout 2 playthrough, although there is far more of a chance of me salvaging that Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne playthough if this doesn't work out. Either way, it's something I figured I should waste your time writing about. As an adieu, here's a random clip of music from a random game that will probably never show up on this blog series unless I get really desperate. Why was I listening to the X-COM Apocalypse soundtrack? Hell if I know.