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The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 21st

Know your role

What if you could talk to the animals? Behind door 21, all things are possible.

It's Divinity: Original Sin 2!

Adam: It's one of the best games I've ever played and there's only one RPG (Ultima VII) that comes close. Divinity: Original Sin 2 brings across and improves on everything I loved in its predecessor. There's the tactically exquisite turn-based combat, that involves manipulation of elements, freezing of blood, and as much slapstick as serious strategy. There's the reactive world, in which anyone can be killed, anything can be stolen, and quests can be completed by following the script or engineering systemic chaos. There's the weirdness of the world, which is as much Terry Pratchett and macabre mysteries as it is Dungeons and Dragons.

And then there's all the new stuff. Characters that I care about, plotlines that are sad, funny and strange, writing that brings everything to life in a way that all of the clever mechanics in the world never really could. Four player competitive play, in which you can deceive and betray your own party.

Divinity is drawing on the history of RPGs and it doesn't look quite as flashy as some AAA productions, but it makes everything else in the genre seem stuck in the past.

Matt: Both Divinity: Original Sin and its sequel excel at letting - even encouraging - the player to break the game, but it wasn’t until Divinity: Original Sin 2 that the devs really embraced that philosophy. Early on, you’re given some gloves that let you teleport any character or object at no cost beyond a few seconds cooldown.

I’ve used those gloves to sneak behind enemies, painstakingly getting each member of my party into just the right position before attacking. Sometimes I’ve used them to avoid combat altogether. There’s even a maze that requires you to painstakingly gather keys from other areas, unless you realise that you can bypass those gates by simply teleporting through them. There’s a talking gargoyle at the end that sneers at you for cheating, but with an undeniable sense of grudging admiration.

John: It is just so exceptionally brilliant. It's funny and smart and serious and daft, and you can talk to the cats. And despite its enormousness, it never feels overwhelming or agoraphobic. Everything is cleverly confined, and in fact most of its sense of scale comes from the sheer scope of how you can approach any situation.

It took me a while to get used to that. To realise that I wasn't going to break the game by taking advantage of what looked like loopholes. That, in fact, the game was going to notice what I was doing an archly raise an eyebrow. I'm not sure how it's possible for a game to be this good at being good, really.

Head back to the calendar to open the door to another of 2017's best games.

About the Author

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RPS

Hivemind

The all-seeing eye of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the voice of many-as-one.

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