Necromantic: Some Thoughts On Divinity 2

By Jim Rossignol on January 20th, 2010 at 10:23 am.


I’ve been playing through the early parts of Larian Studios’ recent RPG Divinity II in my spare time, with a view to writing up a detailed piece on it for RPS when I beat the full game. It’s been an uneven experience, because while it’s an inferior experience to both Risen and Dragon Age, it has kept me coming back to it. I’ve been coming back not so much for reasons of enjoyment, but because of stubbornness. I don’t want this fucker to beat me… But maybe it has.

The surface sheen of Divinity II is pleasing. You’re a magick’d up warrior with glowing eyes, who starts out his quest riding about in a bright red flying ship, and heading into a pleasingly rendered fantasy world. This warrior is being initiated with the memories of a dragon, so better to slay the beasts. After pootling about in the start village for a while, however, it becomes clear that things are not as they seem, and your destiny is not to be a dragon slayer, but to actually be a dragon, as the last of the dragon knights. This means you’re going to be the enemy of some dude called Damian, and you’re going to get a cool Dragon Knight battle tower. But not yet. Not yet.

This is where things start to trundle downhill. I’d already managed to swallow the laggy menus and stuttery performance – hey, that’s how it is on my PC, I’m sure it’s smoother on other PCs, with other builds – and to focus on the characters and questing. I like the structure of the game, and the way you can hybridise your character from a huge selection of skills. I even like the monsters, as predictable as they are, they seemed to have some clout. The sheer size of the valley in which I was adventuring was enough to entice me, too: I wanted to explore. There were some entertaining characters along the way, and some decent rewards for even minor quests. A discount with the blacksmith for fixing him up with a lady from the nearby farm was okay by me. However, once I hit the valley I also hit the grind. I was going to have to go back and kill every last goblin if you was going to be able to walk down the road – I needed to level up. And up. And up.

This was fairly painful, and not really helped by the fact that I discovered that I could bodge my way forward by either letting a crappy summoned creature take the aggro, or simply running out of aggro range until my enemies walked back to their starting point. Their strolling back to zero meant that they usually wouldn’t re-aggress, and I could kill them from range, magic-missiles in the back. It was one of those misfires of game systems that I couldn’t help but start exploiting. Consequently I’ve made continuous progress, but it no longer feels satisfying.

The truth is, I know I’ve not hit the vital crux of the game, but I’ve run out of motivation to go back to it. I’ve rapidly started getting tired of Divinity II’s arbitrary hikes in difficulty, where I have to off and grind XP just to walk to the next bit of the valley. What has kept me going is the promise of things I’ve not yet unlocked, such as the necromancer.

Obviously I want to create a ludicrous undead monster, and because I haven’t yet unlocked my battle tower, I haven’t got to the most interesting features of the game. The problem is: I just haven’t got an energy left to grind my skeletons. I’m no longer convinced the rewards will be enough. The game has tantalised me long enough, without the big pay off. Can it really be worth more hours that could be spent playing Call Of Pripyat?

So, readers, should I continue?

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24 Comments »

  1. bananaphone says:

    Really enjoying it, more so than Risen I think.

    You may be slightly disappointed when you get the battle tower and dragon powers. They’re an awesome reward and a really unique touch, but the problem is that the game is heavily unbalanced. The area after you become a dragon feels smaller than the first part of the game, when really given the amount of time it takes to gain the tower and the resources it gives you, it should be the other way around. For me that is the game’s biggest failing.

    (According to Steam I’ve done 26 hours. I got the battle tower at around 17 hours)

    The difficulty never bothered me. It is tough at the beginning, but never ruined the fun for me. Once you hit a certain level, and provided you make smart use of skill and state points, you can become an unstoppable bad-ass, which is how it should be I think.

    Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to wait to get your battle tower to create your creature, you can get it right at the beginning of the game :) There is a necromancer just a little way out of the first village, head toward the old derelict chapel, on the hill above it is a cave and there you meet a guy who can make your undead pet. And very handy it is too.

  2. Acosta says:

    Yes, you should continue, and yes, the difficulty spikes are annoying, especially as it´s pretty easy to end with a bad build if you don’t pay attention, making some encounters a nightmare (and you can’t even grind, as enemies don’t respawn).

    The game has some really good things. Reading mind for example it´s pretty awesome and opens a lot of possibilities (did you know that the quest of the hammersmith have several outcomes? reading the mind and/or opening the letter makes you able to blackmail one of them). It has some big dungeons with old-school puzzles (there is an optional one that is brutal) and the combat is more satisfying when you have more experience and more combat options.

    I still think that the first Divine Divinity it´s better, but I enjoyed Ego Draconis and I would recommend it if you are looking for something special and with its own flavor. The dialogue can be very good, the combat is great and the game is generally satisfying (except the ending).

  3. Dussk says:

    “for RPS when I through the whole game.”

    Typo in the first sentence! Late night?

  4. sfury says:

    [quote]So, readers, should I continue?[/quote]

    No.

    If I’m stop enjoying it and becomes a grind – I leave the game. Sometimes I might return if it’s just an area and I have hopes it will get better after that, but I rarely trust games that much now, especially after the dreadful sinking of 85 hours in Fallout 3.

    Of course I play games only in my free time, so I treasure it a lot, but I’d like RPS to feature more games you just loved and would reccommend to everyone.

    And I care for your mental health guys. Don’t play shit. :)

  5. Risingson says:

    So, let me have this clear: there are three Divinity games out there… which one of the three is a good game?

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      all of them are good. beyond divinity is considered the bad one though.

    • Rinox says:

      You can say many things about Beyond Divinity, but that it was a good game is just a lie. Even Swen Vincke (CEO of Larian) will admit that they failed with that one.

      The original was a gem, however, and I like the look of the sequel. Just waiting until it’s fully patched.

  6. Javier-de-Ass says:

    the 1.03 patch finally ticked into the rss feed on gamersgate now. woho

  7. Acosta says:

    Avoid at all cost Beyond Divinity. Both Divine Divinity and Ego Draconis are pretty good (Divine Divinity is even very good, you have it on Good Old Games I think).

  8. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Grind in a single player game. That’s beyond senseless. I say ditch that game, pronto. Save yourself the headache.

  9. Mac says:

    If you’re not enjoying it now you probably won’t anyway. I loved it and thought it was way better than Risen and even got me to stick around more than Dragon Age. Unfortunately the last few areas of the game suffer the same crap as Risen and gets a bit samey.
    However the start didn’t hit me as grindy at all, I don’t even see how it can be conveyed that way, there were a very very limited amount of enemies, and they don’t respawn at all, you kill maybe 20 goblins in the 2 camps and then you’ve cleared enough for pretty much the first 5-6 hours of gameplay. And killing those goblins took me like 10minutes, I even wished there were more shit for me to kill at the start.

    If you don’t have it nab the 1.03 patch though it fixes a ton of stuff like being able to strike several opponents with one blow if it physically connects, and a bunch of other bugfixes.

  10. Alistair says:

    How much further are you than the area that was in the demo? I.e. have I aleady got an opinion on the bits you’re describing Jim?

  11. dkay says:

    Oh man, defiantly continue! The ending will blow you away

  12. Cpt. Sqweky says:

    What about the story? Is the story any good? To be honest, the story was the only reason I finished both Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity. They’re really only halfway decent games, but I found the stories engaging enough that I had to know what happened.

  13. Chaz says:

    I tried the demo and ran into a difficulty spike and hit a brick wall really early on. Whilst some aspects of the game seemed quite good, I thought the combat was very poor and was certainly enough to put me off buying it. A shame, because it all looked and sounded quite promising.

  14. bananaphone says:

    Combat gets better later on. It always lacks impact, like you’re attacking a patch of thick fog, but when you get some more powers to play around with it’s a lot more enjoyable as you can pile into a big mob and unleash some magical ass-kickery.

  15. unclelou says:

    Combat gets better later on. It always lacks impact, like you’re attacking a patch of thick fog

    Other flaw aside, that’s what killed the game dead for me. I have a lot of time for unpolished RPGs in general, and the exploring in D2 can be quite rewarding, but the combat was so awful that I just couldn’t bring myself to boot it up again at some point.

  16. Demon Beaver says:

    Go on playing! Suffer for us!!!

    On a more serious note: I played it for a bit, but then got side-tracked by one Dragon Age. Didn’t really feel like going back afterwards… I didn’t even reach the part where you become a dragon.

  17. Mischa says:

    I’d say stop now. I really liked the first part (more than you, apparently), but the second part, after the battle tower, was lacking.

    I did finish the game, and flying as a dragon was fun, but fighting as a dragon occurred only in set-pieces: no roasting of tiny goblins. For that, you had to transform into human form again, AND then use the almost-mandatory undead monster, since fights are scaled to take him into account at that point in the game. The mixing-and-matching of limbs for the monster was not that special either, since usually there would be one obvious ‘best’ set.

    I understand that you are looking forward to these unique selling points, but they are not as much fun as I’d hoped.

  18. Vinraith says:

    So I’m hearing a very strong “buy Risen instead” message here, which I think I’ll take to heart.

  19. Soobe says:

    Funny, I hit the exact same breaking point as you. For me it was right when I got into the larger valley and saw the shit-tons of skeleton things. I just couldn’t do it and gave up on the spot.

    Not wanting to waste the money though, I went back to it a few days later and powered through those skeletons and lo and behold, actually started to like it again. Actually, since then I’ve been enjoying it as much as Risen, in that the quests and locations actually feel somewhat distinct and interesting–It’s not a bad RPG at all actually.

    Problem is, I’ve now hit a second difficulty spike, and I’m honestly not sure what to do next. I have two powerful enemies to fight before the main story can continue, and both of then are vastly more powerful than I.

    I know I must be missing something, but it’s started to get a bit old trying to figure out what that something is.

    I haven’t hit the battle tower stuff yet though, so I’ll drudge on until I do.

    Overall, when this games not punking you it’s quite good. I say keep on with it : )

  20. Jockel says:

    I’d say better stop. I really enjoyed the game in contrast to your experience but the ending was one of the worst I can remember. So it’s probably not worth it for you.

  21. TexArdvark says:

    This has to have been one of the most frustrating RPGs I’ve played. The story line was fine. The graphics beautiful but the gameplay was atrocious. I played on an XBox-360 and suffered several freezes at the most unpredictable times. I’d like to blame that on the XBox but can’t as I’ve played several without any freezing and the X-Box is an Elite version so I have to wonder if it wasn’t the game itself. Additionally many spells or effects were very slow to happen and often that slow reaction time ended in death. I believe I set a record for deaths. After countless hours and multiple character modifications I finally achieved level 35 and cut through opponents like butter. All the way to the climax and there have continued to die regardless of my stats, enhancements, or tactics. I know some have beat the game and I suppose I’ve done something wrong or I could also but to have such a drastic change in difficulty at the end seems totally non-linear. I’m wondering how someone could prepare for that? The long and short of it is I didn’t and I wonder if I ever will. It’s too tedious to start all over again. I’m not sorry I played the game up to the climax, only disappointed at not being able to win. I died 22 straight times in under 5-seconds with ‘ultimate’ levels of potions in effect? Go figure.

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