E3 2012 has been over for more than a week, and we’re still writing articles? Yes, well, hopping from E3 coverage right to WWDC will do that. But let’s get past my tardiness to focus on what really matters here. Larian Studios is bringing Divinity: Original Sin to OS X and PC in the second quarter of 2013, and it’s one RPG fans are going to want to watch very closely.
Truth be known, I almost didn’t schedule a meeting with Larian. My focus was iOS game coverage, and I wasn’t expecting much on the Mac side. Aside from browser-based MMOs, in fact, Divinity: Original Sin was the only OS X game I demoed.
It was all I needed.
Divinity: Original Sin is a prequel to the games in the Divinity universe, I’m told, but that means nothing to me. I haven’t played any of them, as they were never released for the Mac. But considering it’s a prequel, a knowledge of the universe likely won’t be required.
What will be required is a love for traditional turn-based RPG story and combat. Taking a traditional top-down, isometric view, Original Sin looks and feels like the kind or RPG I love to play. Don’t think this is just a throwback to yesteryear, however. Larian is bringing plenty of great technology into the mix.
- Single player with drop-in multiplayer gameplay.
- An impressively interactive setting allows you to move anything that’s not too heavy or nailed to ground.
- Found items can be applied to your inventory. For instance, if you apply a poisonous mushroom to your sword, you have a poisonous sword.
- Dialogue options determine your relationship with NPCs, and multiple players take turns with the dialogue. If players disagree with how to continue, a “dice roll” resolves the conflict. Dialogue can also be used to avoid combat if your intelligence level is high enough.
- Unlike in most RPGs, you can’t just mess around in people’s houses. If you steel something when the owner can see you, he will challenge you. Determining whether the stolen goods are worth killing an innocent civilian (and dealing with any repercussions) is completely up to the player.
At my closed door demo at E3, Larian’s David Walgrave and Farhang Namdar played through a level of Divnity: Original Sin, showing of the impressive graphics and snazzy spell effects.
The game looks gorgeous while honoring the appearance of its forefathers. You can tell a lot of love is going into the game’s appearance, and that carries over to combat, as well. David and Farhang were careful to point out that all of the combat moments are “hand placed,” and that multiple winning methods are made available in the environment. In one big battle, the mystic heroine (she was brought back from the dead, don’t you know) cast a freeze spell on the giant monster while the condemned warrior (released from his chains) took care of the smaller creatures (when the creatures stepped on the freeze spell overflow, they would lose their footing). When the warrior had the chance, he turned his attention to the still frozen monster and was able to win pretty quickly. This shows the importance of cooperative multiplayer, but the game can be played in single player, as well, using AI scripts to control party members (four maximum).
If that’s not enough, Divinity: Original Sin will also come with a level editor, including dialogue options. The scripting language is “readable by a human,” so players can create their own adventures. Considering level editors are rarely included with Mac releases, I asked specifically if we’d get it. The official answer was that we “should,” so we’ll see.
During the demo, a writer from another site seem mystified by the whole thing, asking why they’d bother when everyone’s playing MMORPGs like World of Warcraft and the myriad browser-based and mobile options out there. Farhang and David simply replied that they feel there are a large number of people out there who want this kind of classic RPG experience.
I’m not personally a large number, but I’m a big part of that group nonetheless. E3 2012 gave gamers plenty to look forward to across various consoles and handheld systems. The fact that I came out of L.A. so jazzed about a by-god Macintosh RPG is simultaneously surprising and fantastic.
Keep an eye on Larian through next year. I know Appletell will be. You can learn more now at www.divinityoriginalsin.com.