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Divine Divinity: Cheap Game Review

Divine Divinity: Cheap Game Review

Listen to this article.

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.

Not even the title of the game makes any sense, and it just gets worse from there.

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.

The avancement, and skill selection system are over-wrought and confusingly worded. In this image you see the description of a skill as having two numbers with a ‘+’ between them for the damage. I never did figure out what that meant.

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:

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Comments

  1. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum Sometimes I wonder how he manages to put up with some of this software.

    I think he's an addict.
  2. CB
    CB I just can't help myself anymore :(
  3. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum Well, at least you aren't subjecting yourself to those horrible mobile phone games. ;)
  4. CB
  5. jfre This review was...not really a review. Forgive my scathing remarks, but this review is about as bad as you claim the game to be. In fact, it's a perfect analogy: I continued to read this review to the bitter end not because it was good, but because I was enthralled to see what aspect of the game you would bash next -- much the same as you loathed the game but were so intrigued to see what came next that you spent 100+ hours playing.

    Now, I admit D.D is not my favorite game. I never finished it. It's pretty much standard fare as far as plot, gameplay, fantasy setting...etc -- nothing particularly remarkable. And I agree, the name is completely ridiculous. But I am appalled how you bash the game endlessly without offering any substance, reasoning, or explanation of what would make it better. And I am downright disgusted that the graphics are not "flashy" enough for you. That is exactly what is wrong with gamers today. The old-school RPG is dying because storyline, plot, gameplay are sacrificed for 3D models and flashy graphics. Clearly, this seems to be the defining factor of why you are highly anticipating Divinity 2 ("it looks amazing!") but can't stand Divinity 1.

    So, please, as an avid RPG fan, I ask you to at least take the time to write a serious review and not childishly mock a game. If you don't like the game, inform the gaming community in a respectful and intelligent manner; this review reflects more poorly on you than it does the game. Thank you.
  6. Myrmidon
    Myrmidon Old.

    Also, page 2.
  7. jfre eh, "page 2"? Are you referring to the fact that there is a 2nd page? Yes, I was aware of that.

    And the date of publication is irrelevant. If someone googles "divine divinity review" it will still be found, I assume.

    Perhaps my comments were too harsh (I disregarded the message asking me to "be nice"), but I think my points are relevant. The reviewer, like me, is entitled to his opinion of the game. I'm simply suggesting he take a more objective approach to future reviews rather than mocking the product. I appreciate the fact that the reviewer tried to address something he felt was positive, i.e. the music. But most of the criticism was not constructive, and unfortunately it comprised the majority of the review.
  8. primesuspect
    primesuspect The reviewer got to see Divinity II at E3 this year, and was relieved and excited to see that they not only admit that the first was sub-par, but that the second improves on almost every aspect. I'm sure he'll pipe in here with his thoughts.
  9. QCH
    QCH jfre, thank you for taking the time to post a comment. While I might not agree with your view I can see where you are coming from and appreciate your opinion. I'm sure CB will respond shortly.
  10. CB
    CB
    jfre wrote:
    This review was...not really a review. Forgive my scathing remarks, but this review is about as bad as you claim the game to be. In fact, it's a perfect analogy: I continued to read this review to the bitter end not because it was good, but because I was enthralled to see what aspect of the game you would bash next -- much the same as you loathed the game but were so intrigued to see what came next that you spent 100+ hours playing.

    Now, I admit D.D is not my favorite game. I never finished it. It's pretty much standard fare as far as plot, gameplay, fantasy setting...etc -- nothing particularly remarkable. And I agree, the name is completely ridiculous. But I am appalled how you bash the game endlessly without offering any substance, reasoning, or explanation of what would make it better. And I am downright disgusted that the graphics are not "flashy" enough for you. That is exactly what is wrong with gamers today. The old-school RPG is dying because storyline, plot, gameplay are sacrificed for 3D models and flashy graphics. Clearly, this seems to be the defining factor of why you are highly anticipating Divinity 2 ("it looks amazing!") but can't stand Divinity 1.

    So, please, as an avid RPG fan, I ask you to at least take the time to write a serious review and not childishly mock a game. If you don't like the game, inform the gaming community in a respectful and intelligent manner; this review reflects more poorly on you than it does the game. Thank you.

    Thanks for your comments, jfre.

    Ironically, as much as I basted it in the review, I did enjoy Divine Divinity. I attempted to make that show through the review (part of our (since canceled) "Cheap Games" series of reviews, which were all a bit less than serious), but as a reviewer, I typically tend to focus on the flaws of any product more strongly than the good points.

    As far as the graphics and other quality issues: I feel the same way you do about the industry, and the fan's, focus on flashy graphics. I think a lot of games that should get better attention don't because they don't have flashy graphics, and I think a lot of games that do have flashy graphics suffer in gameplay because of the energy spent on making the graphics shine. I'm playing through Final Fantasy VII right now, and I love it, despite graphics that are nearly unfathomably bad to a modern gamer.

    However, I know that much of the audience for video games isn't like you and I. I would be remiss if I didn't let the audience know: "hey, by the way, the graphics here are crappy". It's then the audiences job to decide if that makes them not want to buy the game. The job of the reviewer is not to say "this product is good" or "this product is bad". That doesn't really mean anything.The job of the good reviewer (something I learn a little more about every time I write a review) is to help the reader decide whether or not this product is for them.

    You know that you don't mind if the graphics are bad, and bad translations don't necessarily turn you off, then you can ignore that part of the review.

    Finally, primesuspect has the right of it when he says that I'm excited about the upcoming release of Divinity II. I was privileged enough to get a very close look at the game at E3, and hopefully I'll have a review of that game up soon. Check the Icrontic Gaming frontpage for some write-ups and videos. :)
  11. jfre Wow, I'm surprised at the prompt response my post generated, given that I was commenting on something posted months ago! I guess this community really is a tight-knit group :)

    First, I definitely want to apologize -- I was very irritated when I read the review, and for some reason felt the need to defend the game. I didn't mean to make it personal :/ I'm quite grateful the backlash was not severe.

    I actually had a similar experience with divinity...I hated the game at first, because the first dungeon crawl is *awful*. Really poor level design to throw your character into the largest dungeon of the game in the first 15 minutes of play...But once I got past that, I really loved it. It just got old after a while, and I eventually ran out of time/interest to finish it.

    I'm glad we share opinions about the direction of PC games in general. As a budget consumer, I appreciate older games that I may have missed and indie games that emphasize story/gameplay over graphics. I recently played through (most of) Fallout 3, which I basically have to run in the lowest resolution to play on my aging desktop. And, while it definitely sucked up a lot of my time, it can't hold a candle to Fallout 1/2. I guess that's just the trend of the industry; to be successful they must please the most populous demographic.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to your coverage of Divinity 2, and I hope to look around the rest of the site to see what it has to offer :)
  12. Gate28
    Gate28
    jfre wrote:
    I'm quite grateful the backlash was not severe.

    An opinion is an opinion, it's not like we're going to tell you to drink bleach because you disagree with one of our reviews.
  13. primesuspect
    primesuspect Whereas most sites would just call you a variety of offensive names and be done with it :D
  14. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum Welcome to Icrontic, jfre. You'll find us to be a fairly congenial bunch here.

    I sat in the Divinity II preview with CB, and I am also pretty excited about the sequel. The guy running the demo for us was really helpful and he admitted that it was the shortcomings of the first game that drove a lot of the development goals for the second.
  15. szoreny
    szoreny Unsure if I should trust the opinion of someone who spends 100 hours with a game yet still fails to figure out how to change the resolution.....(first entry in the game's start menu group, starts with the word CONFIGURE no less....)

    (.cfg editing also available...I have DD in 1680x1050 at the moment....)

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