The latest action RPG to hit shop shelves comes from developer Larian Studios and CDV and it’s called Divine Divinity. The game itself has been in development for quite some time and has seen numerous appearances at trade shows over the last couple of years. Larian have finally put the finishing touches to the game and got the game out to retailers at last.There’s been some great additions to the RPG line-up over the last few months as the genre has started to make the move into full 3D but Larian have chosen the 2D route to bring yet another isometric title to gamers’ hard drives. OK so it’s 2D and looks similar to other isometric RPGs that have been doing the rounds but does that matter? Let’s find outDivine Divinity is set in the world of Rivellon and you are the divine saviour playing as one of three character types, warrior, wizard, or survivor, the last being a sort of thief / rogue type character. At the start of the game you choose either a female or male version of the character class and each are very similar apart from their special abilities. Like most classic action/RPG titles the character you choose and his/her skills are developed by you as you level your character and add more skill points into the various attributes. Divine Divinity features special skill for each character class but this time none of the other skills you add as you progress are exclusive. As you level you can place points into each skill and there’s a huge amount to choose from so you have to make tough decisions on which path your character will take.Sound familiar? Well yes it’s pretty standard fare, but Divine Divinity has a lot going for it thanks to the game’s rich plot and the variety of quests. The game starts off pretty slow, you may have already played the demo, but as you get out of the town at the start you soon realise the vastness of the game and the play areas. The quests are interesting and you have to really scour around to find the solutions which makes a change from the ‘take this here’ scenarios of some action/rpg titles of recent times. Loading times are also kept to the minimum and you can romp around for long periods without seeing a load screen, and with the use of teleporters you can hop around the game world with ease. Before I get off the subject of moving around, the intelligent pathing when moving your character has to be pointed out. You can click an area behind a wall or somewhere at the edge of your line of site and your character will automatically move there which means the tedium of continual clicking to navigate round difficult or complex areas is removed and believe it or not it works very well, and was a big help.The game’s interface has been brilliantly designed, everything is available at the touch of a hotkey or the click of a mouse and it looks fantastic to boot. It’s easy to check your inventory, skill stats, flick through the journals and the map is extravagant with the ability to add you own notes to the map areas as you discover them. a*igning hotkeys to potions or spells is also a simple by opening up the slide-out spell/item list and simply whacking a function key to a*ign it, very easy.Combat obviously plays an integral part and Larian have opted for the click once and fight approach. Because of the vast array of spells this was obviously the best option leaving you hands-free for some nifty keyboard work should it be required. You can also pause the game and carry out changes if you so wish but for the best experience it’s probably best just to play the game as is.Larian have also made sure players get really pulled into the game’s locations by making it possible to interact with non-key objects in the game world such as boxes, barrels or plants and other objects. You can move them around the play area , and as you’ll find out, they can reveal some useful objects to help you in your quests. The interface and control mechanics are a big plus point to the game play, if you thought Diablo II was easy then you‘ll probably find this just as easy, and with a lot more features that make the role playing experience that much more enjoyable.The game also shines in the AI department, as you wander round and come across various nasty creatures such as Orcs or Trolls you can often find yourself surrounded by the enemy pretty quickly. Running away won’t always do the trick either, your stamina bar gets low quickly and you end up trying to flee at walking pace. In general the creature do hunt you down so it makes for cautious exploring at times, especially in wilderness areas. The game’s creatures are a challenge and belting out of town right at the start without leveling up is a sure way to die. Larian have obviously balanced the creatures pretty carefully.We’ve touched on the fact that the game is 2D but to be honest it doesn’t make that much difference to the game’s overall feel. The graphics are very nicely done, all the characters are highly detailed and the game’s locations are both interesting and vibrant in the max resolution of 1024×768. The game world also cycles through day and night and there’s good use of lighting to reflect this. The spell effects also look great, which was one area we expected might let the game down. If Divine Divinity had made it on shelves a year ago then there probably wouldn’t be much that could touch this for looks but alas things have moved on with the likes of Neverwinter Nights and Dungeon Siege. Don’t let that put you off though it’s still up there with the best of them and gameplay is key.The game’s sound is surprisingly good. Remember this game has come out of Belgium so there was plenty of opportunity for Larian to get in some dodgy voice actors to really ham up the English version. Luckily Larian haven’t fallen into the trap and the dialogue is actually well done. The game’s combat and ambient sounds are also everything you would expect and don’t disappoint. The music is superb and a absolute plus, adding some real ambience as you wander around the game. Hats off to the game’s composers.To sum up, Divine Divinity is a solid action/RPG and it’s definitely worth a look if you’re after an interesting and challenging single player RPG. Having no multiplayer is a shame but the gameplay, story and graphics hold their own in a genre that is usually pretty stale. Ok, so it’s not ground breaking but you know it’s good when it’s hard to tear yourself away from a play session. This game will keep you more than amused for quite some time, Divine Divinity is an excellent addition to the action/RPG genre.
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.