Within the first five minutes of my play session with the alpha version of Divinity: Original Sin, I killed Larian Studios' Swen Vincke. "So I see you are readying a fireball spell," he said, and I shot him. I'm counting that as the first of ten reasons why the Kickstarter prequel to the Divine Divinity role-playing game series deserves my cash — being able to set fire to the founder and CEO of the studio making the game. Everyone mark that down.
It's not about the action, as pleasing as it was, as much as it is the freedom to perform that action. This is a cooperative multiplayer role-playing game where the 'cooperative' bits aren't mandatory. Like the pen-and-paper RPGs that spawned the genre, I don't have to either love or hate my party — should they need a reminder of my power, I'm free to give it.
Divinity: Original Sin, which Larian is calling its "dream RPG," does not need my money. Today is the last day of the PC game's $400,000 Kickstarter campaign, successfully funded back on April 9. The project's met all stretch goals but one, and at this rate it might even hit the million dollar mark before it ends. It's going to happen.
The question here is whether or not I should attempt to scrounge up enough change to jump on the bandwagon before the time is up. I've come up with ten compelling reasons, beginning with...
1. Killing Swen Vincke with a Fireball
He's a nice guy, but a bit too trusting.
2. Divine Divinity of Divining Divinations
2002's PC role-playing game Divine Divinity brought me hours upon hours of laughter and joy. Once I stopped making fun of the name and actually played the game — well, that was pretty damn entertaining too. It was Diablo, only with branching dialogue trees and non-combat skills. So really, almost better than Diablo.
3. It's Free-Roaming. It's Also Turn-Based.
The world is your oyster in Divinity: Original Sin, unless the oyster is aggressive, in which case your world becomes a turn-based battle that you'll probably die in, because oysters are bastards. The game allows players to roam freely about the land, chatting with NPCs, stumbling upon quests, and harvesting items to use in the ridiculously extensive crafting system. When you come across a battle, however, the action goes turn-based. Portraits appear on the side of the screen depicting turn order. Position and sound tactics are incredibly important, as is knowing when to run away and leave your fellow player stuck in battle.
That's right, though multiple players are playing at once, one can be in battle while the other is just wandering about. How does this work without tearing a gaping hole in the time-space continuum? Hush now.
4. I Can Wear A Bucket On My Head
How many times have you been in a role-playing game, looted a bucket, and just had it sit there in your inventory until you sell or drop it? That's not a problem in Divinity: Original Sin. Got a bucket? Put it on your head. Fishing rod? Wield it like an incredibly bad sword. Got a pumpkin and a knife? Carve that sucker up and make yourself a creepy Jack-o-Lantern helmet. There are regular weapons as well, but why use those while you can make your own?
5. I Can Officially Argue With My Party
Original Sin features the party-based dialog promised by games like Star Wars: The Old Republic, only so much more satisfying. Here's how it works. Sir Vincke of Fireball-Face and I wandered upon a clam (I guess it was a clam) trapped in a net, who promised to give us information in exchange for its freedom. After receiving its intel, I was given the choice to leave the creature trapped or free it. I wanted to leave it. Vincke wanted to free it. I attempted to use intimidation to get my way. He used his charms. I lost, but I vowed revenge. That's how a simple conversation can blossom into a full-out friend battle.
6. A Song Of Ice And Fire. Also Lightning.
Your friend casts an ice spell on a group of enemies. You cast a fire spell, melting the ice and leaving them standing in a puddle. Your friend casts a lightning spell, electrifying the water. These intriguing elemental interactions aren't limited to the player-created, either. Pools and barrels of oil might just be lying about, waiting for an irresponsible caster to come along and set them off. Hey, I'm an irresponsible caster!
7. NPCs Do Not Take Any Shit
If I were an NPC character in a role-playing game and an adventurer wandered up and started rifling through my things, I would call a guard. These NPCs will do just that. I also respect NPCs that violently defend their own honor should you suggest they might have been a little too vigilant in guarding the cottage of a bathing woman. But mostly I respect game developers that know damn well that I am going to cause as much chaos in their game as possible until I get it out of my system.
8. Level Editor Equals Endless Adventure
When Divinity: Original Sin ships this fall, it ships with the same level editor Larian used to craft the entire game. That's exciting. It brings to mind the amazing player community that grew around Atari's Neverwinter Nights. Anyone else here hang out at the Palace of Leather & Lace? Just me then?
9. This Man Is Doing The Music
Not only is Divinity series composer (and owner of the greatest website ever) Kirill Pokrovsky doing the music for Original Sin, one of the Kickstarter stretch goals armed him with an orchestra. He's a force of nature, and now he has an army.
10. Killing Swen Vincke
It really counts as two.
You can read more about Divinity: Original Sin at the official website and the Kickstarter page. I can guarantee you it'll be worth your money, but it's worth mine. Or it would be if I weren't broke. Man, glad I went through all that.