[Review] Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga
Available on: Xbox 360; Publisher: Atlus; Developer: Larian Studios; Players: 1; Released: April 12, 2011; ESRB: Mature; Official Website
Throughout history, dragons have always captured our imagination, whether it was through art, literature, or the cult-classic Dungeons and Dragons. Incidentally, Dungeons and Dragons is the western model for RPGs, filled with open-ended decisions that affect the game’s path. Along with other RPGs, both games in the Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga package follow this model closely, putting players into the boots and armor of a loyal/defiant/cocky/(insert adjective) dragon knight.
Dragon knights can possess a variety of skills, including healing, lockpicking, and a myriad of warrior abilities. These are just the tip of the iceberg, combining to help players create the ultimate versatile dragon knight. While RPG gamers will appreciate this level of freedom, it’s truly overwhelming for casual gamers. When you only have a couple of measily points to distribute, it’s hard to decide what skills to upgrade or attain. The possibilities are great, but it would have been helpful to include an option that decides these factors for players based on some archetype.
On top of that, the difficulty in the beginning is frustrating, occasionally pitting dragon knights against a group of grunts who are more than capable of ending their quests. Although survivng these encounters will reward players with a plethora of main and side quests. The free will that players have is also the main attraction to these quests. Based on how the dragon knight responds, there can be different rewards, different paths to success and failures, and a different experience overall.
Dialogue is exceptionally written, bringing players back to fantasy tales of slayers and wizards. The subpar, emotionless voices pull them right back out and smack them with the cruel reality that there are no such things as dragons. With the abundance of characters in this fully voiced game, though, it is a rather unrealistic expectation to have an abundance of exceptional voice acting throughout.
Divinity II‘s visuals are not technologically superior to other games, but shows a large scope and features lavish environments. However, this comes at the cost of slow, sleep-inducing load times every time players venture out into the world. It’s a huge turnoff and I easily stopped playing because of either impatience or spending too much time at a loading screen and not enough hacking goblins.
As an interesting spin on the usual dialogue options in most RPGs, NPCs are habitual liars. Thankfully, dragon knights have the ability to read minds at the cost of some experience points. It’s an interesting addition and always keeps players on their feet and to find out whether a person would be lying or if it’s even worth spending the points to read potentially fruitless thoughts. Nothing hurts like spending a level’s worth of experience points to read a mind that is only going over a grocery list.
The options available in Divinity II are astounding. Add that onto the sheer amount of playtime you’ll get out of this collection and it is one hell of a buy. It does have some downfalls, such as the long load times and difficulty, but these will be trivial to the most hardcore role players. For others, though, the difficulty and wealth of customization options may prove too daunting to warrant a purchase of faith.