It is common knowledge that role-playing games have taken inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons, a classic pen-and-paper tabletop game, and used this fantasy world as a source of guidance. After years of real-time adventures, Larian Studios takes the genre back to its turn-based origin with Divinity – Original Sin.
In recent years, we have explored a massive open world in World of Warcraft and slain monsters in the dark and gruesome dungeons of the Diablo franchise. As a genre, role-playing games have come a long way.
Take part in an adventure
In most role-playing games you design and name your own hero and explore detailed worlds in your search for adventure. It is your hero, your story, and so you are far more invested compared to playing a generic soldier, or worthless protagonist. In other cases, you choose a character with a complex origin story and background.
Complex relationships with non-playable characters and conversations with meaningful dialogue decisions further shape the fictional setting, character development, background stories and quests. Your choices and actions have a direct impact on this fictional world.
No more turn-based combat
Technological progress led to further innovation within the genre and many publishers believed there was no money to be made with point-and-click role-playing games. The focus shifted from turn-based point-and-click gameplay to real-time exploration and combat.
Even Bioware, the most significant developer of modern role-playing games, decided to make turn-based combat completely optional in the Dragon Age franchise. In both Mass Effect and Anthem, they chose real-time gameplay above a tactical and old school role-playing experience.
Hours of ditching out blades
Another core element of role-playing games is: loot. You are constantly searching for better weapons and stronger outfits or gear. This more effective gear offers you benefits in combat and sometimes even impacts the course of a quest.
In The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild, you need a specific outfit to enter a closed down area. You have to obtain this disguise in order to proceed in your adventure.
Runescape and World of Warcraft
Massive multiplayer online role-playing games bring thousands, or even millions, of players together on servers. These games are distinguished from singleplayer or multiplayer games by the number of players able to interact together and the persistent world hosted by the publisher which continues to exist and evolve while player are offline.
In Runescape and World of Warcraft, you see groups of players form parties and interact with eachother in a large open world. Together, they beat the toughest monsters and complete the hardest dungeons or quests. Unfortunately, a monthly subscription is too high a cost for some players to experience a fantasy world.
Back to the beginning
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Larian Studios released Divinity – Original Sin. The tone of this role-playing game reminds me, more than anything else, of a pen-and-paper campaign from Dungeons and Dragons.
In Divinity – Original Sin, it is all about the freedom you are given to decide and plan your own course through the campaign and side quests. At its best, the franchise feels like an evening session of Dungeon and Dragons with its creators as dungeon masters.
Steep learning curve
Over the course of the hundred hours you spend in it, the return of a turn-based combat system alone is enough to sustain long sessions. Every battle feels different and challenging. Spells and attacks have unexpected effects on the terrain and game world, leading to a positive or negative outcome for you.
A long forgotten past
One of the reasons the game is difficult is that enemies use the same skills, abilities and items as you do. Divinity – Original Sin combines all typical elements of traditional role-playing games. The turn-based combat is slow and the entire concept is a throwback to classic role-playing games such as Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale.
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Disclaimer. This post contains copyrighted images from Divinity – Original Sin, a video game developed and published by Larian Studios. The fair use of copyrighted works for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting or research is not considered as an infringement of copyright.