Divinity II definitely has a lot of things working against it. For starters comparisons to BioWare’s latest RPG are sure to sprout up. Both games involve Dragons and both attempt the classic RPG flavor that was made popular on the PC. Amazingly both games are also quite different when it comes to their actual mechanics. While the aforementioned title focuses more on strategy and methodically paced combat, Divinity comes with a more action-oriented feel. The quest system is fairly familiar and the story, while not the most original or well-told, does manage to deliver a strong enough narrative to keep you interested. If you have another 60 hours to sink into an RPG this season, Ego Draconis could be well worth the effort.
First and foremost even though the game has a Roman numeral in its title, playing the first game is not a requirement. The only similarities between the two are the setting and the world. The game takes place in Rivellon after the Great War between the humans and the dragons. In the end the humans managed to prevail and have formed a group of soldiers known as Dragon Slayers to hunt down and eliminate the remaining Dragon Knights. Dragon Knights are in fact humans that have somehow figured out how to turn into dragons themselves. As stories go the plot twists and turns and eventually you end up becoming what you initially set out to destroy, and this is where Divinity II’s biggest draw comes into play.
Being able to switch between human and dragon form adds a whole new layer to the RPG formula. When in dragon form combat moves from a methodical pace to a more action-heavy experience. The idea of flying around as this large mythological creature really sets this game apart from others like it. Unfortunately this only makes up a small portion of the game, and you will spend the majority of your time performing the menial tasks found in most games of this type. Quests are gathered from NPCs and added into your log, which is one of my beefs with the game. The quest log system is even more unfriendly than the one found in Dragon Age. In fact the whole menu and equip system feels a bit tacked on as opposed to being more integrated.
The combat while in human form is standard hack and slash mentality, but suffers more due to the fact that the dragon sequences are so much more kinetic than the rest of the game. The skill tree that you use to upgrade your character is one of the more in-depth schemes I have seen, and you will find yourself really sinking your teeth into the amount of customization you can apply. At the outset of the game you can opt to choose between one of three various skill sets. Thankfully you are not bound to this throughout the game as you can change at various places along the way. The warrior class is the most noob-friendly of the bunch, with rogue being more for ranged players and of course the quintessential mage for magic and spells.
A couple of other interesting aspects that set Divinity II apart are the mindreading and creature creation additions. At the beginning of the game you are given the ability to read NPCs minds by expending XP. Some characters are harder to read than others, but doing so will give you more insight into quests and even hidden ones. Get addicted to the ability and it will take you much longer to level up your character as your XP will be spend diving into the minds of others, but use it wisely and the game can really change for the better.
The other addition is a bit more grotesque in nature as it allows you to create your own soldiers using body parts you collect throughout the game. Akin to a quest found in Dragon Age you will find scattered across the world and eventually be able to stitch them together to create monsters to fight at your side. This mechanic works in practice, but is also quite disturbing when you think about it.
These twists including the dragon form are all well and good, but it won’t help you blast through a game this massive without the core experience being worth the effort. Ego Draconis has its fair share of problems, and most notably some problematic glitches. The one thing I can say as I started to play through Divinity II is that it feels like a loose PC game. This is not necessarily a bad description, but one that veteran gamers will understand. There is literally so much to see and do that some of the more common actions feel a bit unrefined. Combat works, but manages to feel sloppy. Jumping and targeting are a pain at times, especially without a mouse, and managing the large skill tree and inventory issues feels downright clunky. There are so many aspects about the game that need improvement, that devotion is required to truly enjoy the game.
Thankfully underneath it all is a well constructed RPG that really is worth investing in if you enjoy the genre. The main quest is long and the narrative is actually quite entertaining. This is helped by the fact that the voice acting is actually quite good. Characters convey a sense of emotion in their statements and the various accents and personalities really do a great job of drawing you into the world. The soundtrack is also fantastically arranged delivering some great orchestral pieces. The visuals are not quite up to snuff when it comes to other titles, but it does get the job done outside of the goofy animations and of course glitches that can ruin the experience. If you manage to avoid them it really is beneficial, but you can live with them if you enjoy the game.
Divinity II: Ego Draconis is not going to change the genre with its new elements, but it is worth checking out if you really are a fan of the genre. The staples of the genre are represented and executed well enough, and the new elements are sufficient. If you have maxed out your clock in Dragon Age and cannot wait to get your hands on the next in the genre Ego Draconis is not a bad choice. It will satisfy your hunger for RPG action, and if you are willing to give it the benefit of the doubt it could end up surprising you. Fans will likely find plenty to love for their money, but anyone else should likely steer clear.
Review copy provided by publisher.