Divinity II: Ego Draconis • Page 2

I put on my robe and lizard's hat.

The system offers flexibility without the drudgery of too much fine tuning, with equipment offering further tweaks via permanent charms and exchangeable enchantments, boosting stats and skills. There's an excellent feeling of control over your character's spec with no punishment for multiclassing other than the necessary stat-spreading. My personal choice was a bit of a polymath, throwing a chunky fireball as an opening line from across the room, followed by a rush attack to get within snogging range and buffs to health and resistances to make sure the job got done.

The combat itself, in contrast to Divinity's rather physical running and jumping third-person exploration, is a little disappointing. Whilst spells fizz and whistle suitably, and short combos flow together pleasantly, there's a definite feeling of disconnection to the blows. It's perhaps a symptom of the distance between camera and player, or the fact that third-person perspectives obscure much of the actual steel on bone action. But too often the actual cut and thrust felt a little wishy-washy, with none of the impact so necessary to engage the player. Animation also feels a little bit 1996, with repetitive monster movements and stilted, juddering movement from some characters.

Conversations, conducted in a pleasing array of well-voiced regional British accents, offer a fairly binary set of moral choices, although quest outcomes are decided on actions, not words. In fact, with a couple of notable exceptions, there are very few palpable consequences to be had from playing either good or bad cop. Treat someone with vicious contempt and they'll still offer you pretty much exactly what they would have done otherwise. There's certainly no reputation to be gained for your character, no real ramifications for behaving badly. It's something which could have deepened the experience considerably, and certainly given more pause to conversational decisions.

One nice thing about the conversation system is the ability to mindread. This Slayer power comes at the cost of an XP debt, usually directly related to the usefulness of the information gleaned. Rewards for this mental snooping can range from stat and skill boosts to passwords, anecdotes or quest information, right down to completely useless musings on what the NPC had for lunch. Given that you're told how much of a penalty to expect before you have to commit, it's not hard to work out how useful the thoughts you're about to steal will be but nonetheless it's a fresh and interesting option to have.

It's possible to make it look this pretty on PC, but not unless you're packing a pretty hefty rig. So to speak.

Not long before you inherit the full suite of Draconic powers, Divinity II proffers another interesting gameplay vol-au-vent by establishing you with a hefty base of operations, complete with trader, enchanter, trainer, alchemist and necromancer. These tradesmen make sense of the various ingredients, ores and recipes which you collect over the course of the first half of the game. Although their services are all available from other people, spread around the Broken Valley where you'll be spending a good portion of the early game, collecting them in one are makes them far more convenient. Once established in your tower, their services are also expanded and become upgradable - making your home a nice little side project.

In fact Ego Draconis' non-linear approach to things like this, with a definite lack of railroading allowing you to abandon the world saving for a while whilst you nip off to pick up a book for your necromancer, is one of its real strengths. The explorable world is pretty vast, and has many nooks, crannies and non-essential dungeons to explore. A fast travel system makes this exploration a pleasure rather than a chore, too, with too-tough areas never more than a couple of minutes away once you feel up to them.

The quests themselves are interesting enough, occasionally verging into excellent, although they're stymied somewhat by a poor logbook system and a lack of map indicators.

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Dan Pearson

Dan Pearson

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