Divine Divinity ($10) surprised me. When I picked up the game, and judged it by its cover, I was expecting something really bad. The title was bad, the screen-shots looked sort-of crappy, and the story, frankly, sounded really stupid. Then I started playing it, and it really was bad. It was just as bad as I thought it would be, and for all the reasons, I thought. The graphics were crappy pre-rendered ‘3d’ sprites, ala Diablo 2 (although, not as pretty), which makes a certain sense considering Divine Divinity’s original release date was just after Diablo 2, of course that release wasn’t in English, and it apparently took two years to translate this game. Badly.
The story is standard fantasy boiler-plate. You wake up with no memory in a healer’s village run by a guy with a long beard. Another guy with a long beard is a great wizard who lets you in on the fact that you are a chosen one and, of course, it is your job to find and defeat the great evil in the land.
The first hour of the game (a very important thing for hooking players, since most people will give, even a bad game, at least an hour of their time) is interminably boring, slaying rats with a butter-knife, and picking up crappy, useless equipment. I decided, however, to give it more time, so I kept at it. After another hour, it is still entirely uninteresting, so I quit playing.
Later, I decided that it wouldn’t be fair to review the game after only a couple of hours, so after a few days I loaded it up again. I put a whole evening into it, only to find myself still uninterested. I was ready to write the review. I loaded up the game for the last time, to get some screen-shots of the game-play for the article, and found myself playing a little bit more, ‘just to see what comes next’. I did the same the next night, and the next night.
Every time I play the game, my opinion of the game itself gets lower, but my investment in the character gets higher. Something is drawing me in. It certainly isn’t the control scheme (which is counter-intuitive, and sloppy), it definitely isn’t the story-line (which is mind-numbingly dull). It’s the advancement system. It’s addictive. I find myself intrigued by the math involved. It becomes a game inside the game to understand the logic that the game-designers must have employed when designing this system. I want to get to the next level, just so I can see, and brain-boggle, at the new numbers on the skill-tree.
After a month or so, I realized that I have logged over a hundred hours in the game (that was the surprise), and my article is way past due. I had to force myself to pull away, and get started writing down my impressions.
So after much anticipation, here is my review: