Couch co-op clickiness
While playing through the lukewarm Sword Coast Legendslast week, I kept telling myself there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Once I finished my slog through the Sword Coast, I could revisit Rivellon in Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition. Though I didn’t play much of the original (Patrick’s review is here!) when it played last year, I enviously watched over my brother’s shoulder while he played through the slick cRPG.
We wanted to play together, but didn’t have two computers capable of running the game at the time. Here we are a year and change later, with two controllers, a couch, and some thoughts.
Split-screen co-op functions much like ToeJam & Earlfrom back in the day: both players share a screen when they’re close to one another, but if they drift far enough away, the screen splits and each player has their own camera to control. This can be jarring if you separate and rejoin multiple times in rapid succession(imagine someone flailing their hands in front of your face really fast to obscure your vision) , but it otherwise works surprisingly well. I also didn’t anticipate being able to wander so far away from you partner. There were multiple times in the ten or so hours we played where he would be in town and I’d be fighting enemies on a distant beach.
Controlling characters works better than expected in that it actually works without making me want to throw my controller into the toilet in exchange for a mouse and keyboard. You can move your character around with the left thumbstick, or you can click it to create a small cursor. This effectively allows you to maneuver your avatars like a point and click RPG and is blessing when you want to go to the bathroom while you traverse to the other side of a map. Combat is easy enough to handle, with multiple radial menus and shortcuts providing quick-enough means to an end.
An RPG can live or die by its inventory, and Divinity: Original Sinwas never exceptionally manageable in the first place. While the presentation is pleasant (little chests, barrels, and gore piles show up as a cute lil’ grid when you look through them), picking up items can be a tad tedious. Holding down the X button brings up a search circle around you so that you can look at multiple items simultaneously, which minimizes minutia but still isn’t completely ideal. If you hadn’t played the PC version before you’d probably think it was a little slow but nothing out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, even with hands-off experience I know how much faster that can be, and in a game as large as this one, poor inventory accessibility goes from a wrinkle to a wound after awhile.
Moving items out of your way is probably the offensive activity here. Instead of just clicking and dragging it out of your way, you have to hold down that search button, choose the item, go to a separate small menu, choose move, and then determine where you’d like to place said item. That is entirely too many commas and clauses to complete an action that you’ll do often. It does work better if you use the point and click control scheme, which I found myself utilizing often. Overall, I wouldn’t call these controls unwieldy so much as inconvenient.
But if you can manage to acclimate to these puppets’ strings, there’s a fantastic game underneath. Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Editionis one of those rare fantasy RPGs that has charm, charisma, and doesn’t feel completely generic. Now that almost every NPC is voiced, the world feels even more alive and personable. The co-op conversations, in which your main characters can agree, disagree, argue, and jest with one another, eventually leading to traits that have a tangible effect, are perfect for couch sessions. Turn-based combat doesn’t seem like it would flow as well, but it does. Each time my brother covered an orc in oil and I set him ablaze, we high-fived like a couple of douches. The environmental/elemental battles always find a way to remain exciting.
I’m no Chris Carter, so I can’t finish a 100 hour game in two days. There’s still a garbage dump’s worth of shit that I haven’t in Divinity. So far, the extra quests and dialogue feel right at home, and the addition of dual-wielding has made my rogueish spellcaster even more formidable. Even after the little that I have played, though, I’m confident in saying that this one’s worth your time. Just remember to pick up every shell on the beach and send one to your brother’s inventory every time he checks his phone. See how many shells you can send before they notice.