The Divinity series has never had a very strong sense of identity. Its games always seemed to reflect the mood of the industry at the time. Each iteration has taken itself less seriously and changed genres wildly. Even this game's Kickstarter was only a modest success when compared to the likes of Pillars of Eternity or the current Dragonfall: Hong Kong. But with Divinity: Original Sin the good folks at Larian finally struck gold.
Everything about Original Sin is designed to be fun to play around with. Character builds are open and varied, objectives can be achieved in numerous and differing ways, and every RPG that wishes to use the environment as an important aspect of its combat will now have to be directly compared to Original Sin. Original Sin also has one of the quickest, albeit abrupt, switches from exploration to combat. While not exactly smooth, it keeps the game going at a fast pace and you slowly lose yourself in it, a trademark of any quality game. From its humorous, irreverent writing to the fun, if often exploitable, combat, Original Sin oozes identity, something that has been missing from the rest of the series.
And be sure to play it with a friend. Some games have co-op, but few are as well-designed as this one for the task of taking on two player characters at once. It's an entirely different game when played with someone else. Disagreements are literally solved with rock, paper, scissors, a quirky decision in a game thats full of them. Divinity: Original Sin isn't a ground-breaking game, but it is one of the best games at designing itself around its own limitations. More games could take a lesson in how to do that.
More ground-breaking is Unrest, a gem that may not look the most appealing on the surface, yet is beautiful underneath. It's a game that gets you emotionally invested in the woes of various walks of life, but does it in such a way where you never know where a choice might lead you. It's an uncomfortable game, one with difficult and demanding decisions that keep you guessing at what kinds of consequences you may lead your protagonists to. If you want a game that will challenge the way you think about issues of racism, cultural, and privilege, Unrest has an amazing, but heart wrenching, story to share with you. And this story should not be overlooked.
Once upon a time, Westerns were everywhere. They've faded from popular culture in recent decades though, and maybe that accounts for why Boot Hill Heroes Part 1 hasn't seen the recognition that it deserves. Being a quality take on a setting that RPGs seldom use is one thing, but the creators clearly had some affection for Earthbound too, and still haven't received the accolades due. Well, we are ready to strap on our gunbelts and deputize some posse members to send the Dalton gang out of a bar feet first when Part 2 comes around, and hopefully this time others will join the wagon train.
by Zack Webster, Sam Wachter, Mike Moehnke