Beyond Divinity Review
First it was simply divine, now it tries to go beyond, in Larian's role-playing follow-up.
Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 28th April 2004
- Developer: Larian Studios
- Publisher: Digital Jesters
- Release Date: 30th April 2004
Having to play lots of different video games on a weekly basis certainly has its drawbacks, the most obvious been that most don’t seem like fun anymore, you start looking at games for their “pro’s” and “con’s” rather than actually getting engrossed and enjoying the game at hand. Therefore there are only a select few that actually stand out from the rest and remain in my memory as a great, enjoyable game.
One of these games was ‘Divine Divinity’ which had me almost obsessed with the addictive game play and depth of the gaming environment. Many days and nights were spent guiding my hero through giant spider infested forests, making deals with merchants and taking quests off villagers and from what I’ve heard, I was not the only one looking forward to the follow on game, Beyond Divinity.
Carrying on from the original plot, the game is set 20 years after Divine Divinity you play a servant of the “divine one” who has had his soul ‘forged’ with that of an evil Death Knight by a demon going by the name of Samual. Whilst neither characters really ‘get along’ the situation is much more serious because if one of them dies, they both go hence they are forced to work together to free themselves from the clutches of Samual and ultimately, escape from the demons warped dimension.
From the very beginning you control the two characters which can be controlled either as a group or independently. The Death Knight is pretty a set character from the start but the other character can be moulded to suit you before you start the game. Beyond Divinity gives you the option to make your hero male, female or even a child and there are even character edit options ranging from facial details, hair styles and body types. Once you get your character looking right you need to choose a path from the way of the warrior, mage or survivor. All paths have their advantages and disadvantages, Warriors are generally stronger and better in battle, the mage is better with magic and the survivor excels in sneaking, luck and has a generally faster restoration rate.
Although your initial choice of path affects your characters stats at the beginning of the game these can be easily adjusted later on thanks to the level up system. After gaining a specific number of experience points your characters ‘level up’ leaving you with 5 points each to spend on extra stats. These points can be used on abilities such as strength, speed, agility, intelligence and constitution and the open ended nature of the points system means that once you start playing the game you are more or less free to turn your character from a warrior to a survivor, a wizard to a warrior and so on.
Along with the statistical points system, a level up also allows you to learn new skills for your characters with ‘skill points’. Skills aim to improve specific areas in your character such as their cross bow accuracy or crushing weapon damage. Once skills have been learned there is an option to unlearn them but its costs gold and plenty of it.
The game starts off in the dungeon in which you have been imprisoned and like its predecessor the game play combines a mixture of real time combat, object finding, puzzle solving and of course path finding. Enemies include giant spiders, various types of skeleton, ghosts and monsters, all of which are rated on a level system indicating their difficulty.
The game is split into ‘acts’, five in total and each act contains a summoning doll that basically acts as another member of your group. Although these characters are restricted by range (they die if they leave their range) they tend to come in useful during quests but don’t drastically change the gameplay in any way. Another newbie in the series is the implementation of ‘Battlefields’ which are found in every act. This system allows you to transport your characters away from the main game and enter into a different dimension where you can gain points completing quests for villagers, trade with merchants and learn new skills from teachers.
As with Divine Divinity, Beyond Divinity takes place in a huge, dense and highly detailed world with a range of interactive objects and non-playable characters. Environments range from forest settings, villages and dungeons and the 3D character models are what you would expect from a game of this type. There is also the ability to zoom in and out of your immediate area and other effects such as character sickness after poisoning and the various magic animations were brilliant.
The games sound is pretty standard, you have the ‘fantasy game’ musical soundtrack playing in the background, the sounds of swords clanking and gold dropping in battle and then there’s the voice acting which is generally good with the exception of the Death Knight sounding like something out of a cartoon!
I was a loyal fan of Divine Divinity and all the hype surrounding the new addition to the franchise suggested that Beyond Divinity would follow in the footsteps of its predecessor. The game play is highly addictive if not a little frustrating at times, you can lose a battle ten times in a row but you’ll still want to go back and try ‘one more time’ because you know you can do it, you just have to find the right way. The puzzles are also annoyingly addictive, you get sick of wondering around aimlessly but deep down you know the answer lies nearby, the combination of battle, path finding and quest solving keeps the game fresh and no doubt you will still be playing this game in a few months time, another game to add to my ‘games that stood out’ list.
Review Score: 7.8/10
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