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Divinity II had one hell of a rocky start. It was released around the time of Dragon Age, the buggy release build leaked months before it went on the market internationally, and it was just plain unpolished. And yet, despite that, there was something...good about it, buried beneath bugs and balance issues, and interminable slogging through flying fortresses.
But after its rocky start, something impressive happened. Larian left the publisher that had rushed them. They looked at the reviews, and set to fixing their game. And they decided to toss in an expansion too. So, a year later, after finally finding a different publisher willing to give them another shot, they released The Dragon Knight Saga.
And what had been a guilty pleasure became a hidden gem instead.
Divinity II takes an interesting approach to fantasy. It strikes a balance somewhere between the overwrought cartoonishness of games like World Of Warcraft and Torchlight and the stark realism of TES or Dragon Age: Origins. And when it sets out to be fantasy, it doesn't hold back. From there comes the almost childlike sense of wonder that comes from the game world: it's a place where anything can happen, from jerkass rhyming wizards to slutty talking treasure chests and trees telling dirty riddles.
The combat is Diablo-like hack and slash with skills to use (picked from a non-linear, open-ended skill selection), with a bit more rolling and jumping around like a moron. This is likely its weakest area, and it's not bad—it's quite functional, just not really anything to get excited about. The quests are designed nicely and don't feel like bare fetch quests, and there's a huge amount of stuff to be find simply through exploring—whether exploring on foot or plumbing the depths of NPC's minds with mindreading. It's not as big as the worlds of TES, but there's a satisfying amount of content in there. Roleplaying is well-presented, though the choice-and-consequence deal isn't the focus—more simply shaping the events around you to your will. The dragon form is fun for variety and getting around, but ultimately more of a cool diversion than a major gameplay element.
So in the end, it's not the world's greatest RPG, and even with the rerelease it's far from polished. But it has the ineffable feeling of an RPG made with love and care, and the desire to make the whole thing fun.
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