Divinity: Original Sin 2 just killed my adopted cat, and I don’t know what to do with myself

The random death of a cat might be the most shocking moment I can remember in a game.

I’m playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 [official site], and it’s my first experience of the series as a whole. Not knowing what to expect, but knowing the game to offer unexpected moments, I was simply pootling around the island on which magic-laden beings were being held captive. And at a certain point a black cat started following us about. A very welcome black cat, causing no trouble, a little too meowy but nothing offensive beyond that. It seemed to have an odd look in its eyes, and I was intrigued to learn if there might be more to this mog than met the eye.

After a bit I got used to it, almost as if it were a member of our party. It’d figure out its own routes if we climbed somewhere it couldn’t, it kept itself busy while we were engaged in fights, and generally mooched about in a very harmless fashion. My son named it, with the imagination of a two year old, “Meow”, and so it was. Meow the cat.

Then chatting to some grumpy Magisters outside a locked gate, mid-conversation with one of the soldiers, I heard first the sound of an arrow being loosed, then a gruesome squalling feline gurgle, and there on the ground beside me was the bleeding remains of Meow. Dead. The bastard on top of a lookout tower just took it upon himself to kill my pet! My innocent Meow, who had been nonchalantly sniffing about, not even disturbing their hound.

My jaw hung slack, and then stayed there. I processed what had happened. This NPC had murdered an NPC kitten. I was chatting! There was no warning! And there was nothing I could do – not only was I mid conversation with the bastard murderer’s colleague, but these were all level 4, and I’ve just started, I’m level 1, and I wouldn’t stand a chance in seeking brutal justice for my little kitty’s life. And my jaw was still hung open.

It was a moment just so brutally shocking, despite being I of course realise, completely irrelevant to the game at large. The cat wasn’t my pet, it was just following me about. I couldn’t interact with it in any meaningful way. It wasn’t a “pet” in the sense that RPGs understand. A stray cat was killed by a guard. A bastard guard. But the randomness, the helplessness of it, struck me incredibly hard.

Games don’t do that! Games, as they go, tend to be so clumsily choreographed and signalled in their Moments, usually resorting to cutscenes for occasions when they want to emotionally shock you. There’s so little that’s random, so few moments in the whole genre (and, let’s be fair, in film, TV, too) where something completely unexpected happens, and no one at all gives a shit.

As it happens I clicked on the gate to see what would happen, causing all the guards and their mutt to launch at me, inevitably seeing my party of two weaklings die. So I’ve reloaded to the moment before the kitty demise, and now I’m absolutely transfixed with fear that little ol’ Meow could be met with cruel death at any moment. I can’t think of a time a game’s stakes felt so high.

(Postscript: I went back to the moment to see if it would happen again, and indeed it did, this time with the characters commenting on the events. The (bastard) guard justified his brutality by saying, “Bad luck to let on ‘a them cross your path.” Weep.)

54 Comments

  1. Auldman says:

    That’s the beauty of Divinity: Original Sin in that it looks so jokey when you first load it but it’s complexity and depth will surprise you.

    Fortunately I think you’ll find you can come back to that area later and get revenge for that Cat. In fact you’ll get some XP for doing that so it’s not a bad idea to remember that spot, remember that guard and return when you’re say: level six.

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, I read a lot of criticism of the writing in D:OS from internet randos. Personally I thought it was really strong and affecting, coalescing around a single theme. But a slightly different genre to what people expect.

  2. TotallyUseless says:

    <- am amazed by the writing, almost seemed like the first few paragraphs were taken from the game itself.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    As a player of the original Original Sin, my brain immediately says “So Pet Pal’s going to be essential from the get-go again then”.

    I’m also curious if resurrection scrolls would work on Meow.

    • Mmmslash says:

      They do not. I tried right away.

      I’d agree that Pet Pal is probably necessary. I don’t know that any of the Origin characters start with it, either (assuming you didn’t choose to play as one of them).

      • esvyre says:

        I tinkered with EA and I think there was a class that starts with Pet Pal (no telling if it’ll be the same in the release I guess).

        For those who haven’t played OS2, when you recruit companions there’s an option to spec them into a desired class preset, and of course you choose your own at start.

      • Salahn says:

        Ifan starts with pet pal. So not essential to take on a custom char :)

    • Zenicetus says:

      As another D:OS player, that was the first thing I thought of too. It doesn’t look like a random interaction, just for atmosphere. That cat must have information. I don’t know if Pet Pal is available that early though.

      • Someoldguy says:

        Pull it’s claws out with pliers while demanding it talk, write down its howls of distress and then read them back once you buy the skill? Seems to fit thematically with the face ripping skeletons even if the lady in the beachwear and Mr Birdlegs in John’s play through wouldn’t contemplate such actions.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Resurrection not working. All cats go to heaven.

    • Mandrake42 says:

      Eh. I wouldn’t say pet pal is essential. You could complete the original without it. So it’s not essential to play with it, it’s just that playing without it is just crazy talk ;)

  4. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    It’s unfortunate that the comments by NPCs at the end makes it just sound like another scripted event.

    But still, neat that it affected you.

    But what are you going to tell your two-year old? That Meow was sent to a nice field full of mice, where he can frolic all day?

    • Vandelay says:

      My thoughts exactly. I really hope your son was not there to witness such a tragedy!

      How does this one compare to the first? I enjoyed the original game for a bit, but it didn’t entice me enough to play it all the way through (maybe only a quarter or so.) It did better than Pillars, which I grew tired of by the first sewer in the big town, but something still didn’t fully click.

  5. Chromatose says:

    Everything about this game that I’ve seen so far just seems like some wonderfully emergent playground. I’ve been putting off purchasing it in EA, because £30 feels a bit steep for an unfinished product, but I’m absolutely picking this up when it jumps out of EA at the end of the week. The fact that it has split-screen so my partner can jump into a game with me just makes it all the better!

    • waltC says:

      The final product will be released day after tomorrow–9/14–and what you pay for *is* the full game…;) The EA just gives you something to latch onto until then. I bought it a couple of days ago–the full release version should be much better.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    I thought you were a dog person

  7. Ergates_Antius says:

    Spoilers!

    • Moragami says:

      I was thinking the same thing. This is just the kind of thing a video game journalist should be letting us experience on our own. You suck Walker!

  8. Jac says:

    This would make a great Jeremy Kyle episode.

  9. int says:

    You must protect your cat with cataphract armour.

    • Rince says:

      Not protecting you cat in that fashion will only result in a CATastrophe!

      • stu_cam says:

        He’s right, you should definitely order some, I can lend you the CATalogue

      • Otterley says:

        More a warning than a spoiler: if you manage to overprotect your cat, you’ll be missing out on an important moment of catharsis further down the line.

    • RedViv says:

      The best way to avoid feline blue.

  10. hurlster says:

    if theres one thing i know. i would like to see the death of said guards, brutally! please make a video too so we can all enjoy the moment

  11. BlankedyBlank says:

    Maybe that cat will be Larian’s version of HL2’s Gnome Chompski.

    The current consensus seems to be that it’s part of a not-yet included quest. When you speak to it with Pet Pal, it is just confused – hinting that something about it is out-of-sorts.

  12. akaks says:

    pet pal and necromancer could give you some directions

  13. Cvnk says:

    So THAT’S why I can’t find that cat anymore. Once I realized one of my team has Pet Pal I scoured the island looking for it hoping to learn what it wanted but it was nowhere to be found. It was driving me nuts. I wonder if I’ll find his little corpse hidden in the grass when I check tonight (I’ve already killed those fools guarding the gate for other reasons — namely “they were next”).

    I’m really enjoying this game. I like that I can get my ass handed to me several times before I figure out how to win a particular fight.

  14. Danarchist says:

    Honestly I had pet pal and tried to talk to the cat and it was…well as forthcoming as you would expect of a cat. I have always wondered if the cat had a story line like some of the other animals I ran into. It always died to random AOE before I had a chance to really get very far though.
    I also tend to kill that group of guards fairly early so I can raid an upstairs room for early game resources =P

  15. Chaoslord AJ says:

    You don’t believe in reloads I guess?
    Bat yeah that’s a pretty immersive if unsettling scene. The dude even says “the innocent are first to fall” and that huge puddle of blood.
    It can happen though, GTA 5 had cats which are prone to run away and get under a car and even ol’ Deus Ex had cats, most cats aren’t essential in open world games.
    I’d recommend Path of Exile’s black cat DLC. Absolutely safe.

  16. Werthead says:

    I was tipped off that Pet Pal was an essential skill in the first game, as it allows you to talk to the animals and they set in motion entire questlines which are epic. I got surprisingly invested in the tomcat’s love life storyline where you had to help him win the heart of the posh house cat. I was far more invested in that then the “fate of the entire universe is at stake” stuff.

    That reminds me that I should really go back and finish the first game.

  17. adammedeiros says:

    Come on man!!! Spoilers!!!

  18. Trajano says:

    The people at larian says that if you keep the cat alive to the end of the game maybe you discover somenthing…

  19. Alberto says:

    As a Dwarf Fortress player, I’ve murdered / butchered / turned into soap and shoes so, so many cats…

    Maybe that guard needed bones for his crafts, or a new fancy cat leather waterskin.

  20. AutonomyLost says:

    This was a great little story. But fuck that guard in the tower.

  21. Carra says:

    Divinity: Original Sin is one of the best games I’ve played in recent years. Kickstarted the sequel of course and looking forward to playing it!

  22. racccoon says:

    Cats should be locked inside and have cat runs. lol

  23. Norbert says:

    Game backer here. There is a surprise for anyone who manages to bring the cat outside of fort joy. So try harder to keep it alive! Welcome to the beauty of Divinity Original Sin :)

  24. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Never took Pet Pal in the original because: 1)it sounded stupid; 2)game was pushing for you to get it too hard, and I wanted to see if quests could be solved by actually investigating, without this crutch. Turns out they could.

    • Rizlar says:

      Ditto, figured I would take it in a subsequent playthrough that never happened. Still one of my favourite games of all time.

  25. Nosebeggar says:

    I would have killed that fuzzy furball the moment it walked into my general direction. Other than that: I feel you.
    It’s like a soldier you loved dying on you in XCOM2 Iron Man runs.

  26. Yasuno says:

    That sudden death of the cat shocked me too, and it was the beginning of my plan to murder all of the magisters in the fort. I remember being underleveled compared to the 4 guards in front of the gate, but I had the advantage of initiation. I was determined to kill these guards, even if it will cost me all of the res. scrolls, and I did it. I was able to revenged the cat after it died!

  27. fdel says:

    Wasn t able to finish the first game. Too much jumps in level. To much puzzle to what order you must do things… or get stuck with level jump…
    Its a pity i liked its ambiance.

    • Someoldguy says:

      It was a little unforgiving if you went out of sequence early on, but it wasn’t long before there were plenty of walkthroughs to peek at if you needed a hint on some area you might have overlooked.

  28. Peachy says:

    Spoiler! To save the cat…

    • Peachy says:

      There is a way to save your Meow. In our party she was stucked in a room with a teleporter and was gone. When we came back she was still there, waiting for us to follow. Before we find her again downstairs we cleaned the city from the magisters. As the cat leaves with us the fort she speakes with our friend she followed and sayes that the likes him. Now he can summon her as a cat familiar whenever he want ;) Sorry for my bad english!