Divinity II, by Larian Studios, is an action-RPG where you choose a class, level up skills, complete quests, fight random monsters and progress toward an overarching goal. So far, that describes many games to release in recent years, but unlike all those other games, Divinity II has one more thing: you can also turn into a dragon.
The game actually originally released as Ego Draconis early last year, in the wake of Dragon Age: Origins and to a host of glitches and problems on the console. In a sort of mea culpa, the team found a new publisher (Atlus) and put together a new version, The Dragon Knight Saga, which fixes many issues and adds in expansion Flames of Vengeance. The contrast of these two releases is really striking, and made more so with Atlus’ typical policy of throwing in extras like a soundtrack and pricing it at $40.
That said, the game has a bit of a barrier to entry. The system itself is somewhat clunky and dated, from the actions to the movement to the menus. Before you get to the point when you can be a dragon, this means it’s a clearly inferior experience to more polished efforts like Dragon Age and Fable. Once it can start avoiding direct comparisons, it fares a bit better, and everything starts to feel a bit more cohesive when you get through the grating, uninspired first act.
There are cool elements here, though, especially if you like games with loot and leveling. TDKS doesn’t streamline anything like inventory systems or skill trees, but there are certainly those out there who like the old-school approach and appreciate when people keep it. The mage class’ skill options are a bit underwhelming, but others are about what you’d expect.
I usually knock games for touting stuff like this, but the biggest draw to TDKS is its hours and hours of gameplay. With the expansion added in, you could play Divinity for weeks with no problem. This genre, unlike any other, becomes more immersive and enjoyable with time put in. (And, put charitably, Divinity II has its work cut out for it with its first impression.)
There are a few elements other than the dragon thing that are interesting. You can read the minds of NPCs to try to get more information, but this costs experience to attempt (and more for some people than others). This mechanic may frustrate some who just want to get in and hit things with swords, but it makes for an interesting dynamic, where players need to weigh whether the information could be worth grinding more to make up for lost progress.
It boils down to this: if you are looking to play a game for 10 hours or so, Divinity II is not a very good option. It’s really for those who are looking for a 60-80 hour, life-consuming experience and have a high tolerance for system limitations. This is certainly the best version to get, and it’s priced right for what it is.
Pros: Tons of content, you get to be a dragon
Cons: Sub-par foundation, awkward story